Pitt bull available for adoption at Brandywine Valley SPCA
Vito cools off in one of the kiddie pools available for dogs in the outdoor play area at Brandywine Valley SPCA in West Chester.

Once a month I have adventures at the Brandywine Valley SPCA (BVSPCA) in West Chester volunteering to photograph the dog’s “headshots”.

These are the first impression that they make to potential adopters. We’ve all been on an adoption website and clicked through the photos making snap judgements based on the photo we saw.

Volunteer holding Puppy available for adoption at Brandy Wine Valley SPCA in West Chester.
June is scooped up by volunteer Kate.

My job is for the two to three hours that I’m photographing dogs to create an instant impression of the essence of that dog’s spirit and personality. Then, the next time you fall down the rabbit hole clicking on puppy after puppy, you can get a sense of the dog that will be a perfect fit for your home.

Large black Pitt bull available for adoption at Brandy Wine Valley SPCA in West Chester.
Kingsley stretches his legs in one of the outdoor play pins at the Brandywine Valley SPCA in West Chester.

“I forego snuggles now so that they can have a lifetime of snuggles forever with their new family.”

I don’t snuggle the dogs as much as one might think while I’m there. Sure, I want to, but there are a lot of dogs without a single photo on the website. This means there are a lot of dogs that will get completely clicked over if they don’t have a photo. Every second spent not photographing prolongs the adoption of a dog. I forego snuggles now so that they can have a lifetime of snuggles forever with their new family. However, I do sneak in a squish and boop of the snoot from time to time because I’m not a soulless machine.

Shepherd mix available for adoption at Brandy Wine Valley SPCA in West Chester.
Danny rests a second from chasing tennis balls at the Brandywine Valley SPCA.

I can’t do this work without the army of volunteers and leadership of staff that make up BVSPCA. I am assigned a runner who corrals puppies (which is a lot like herding cats) and brings them to me to photograph. Gussie is a wonderful long standing volunteer who is normally running puppies to me rain or shine and during the blazing heat of the summer or freezing temperatures of the Winter. She is often joined by one or two other amazing humans who have taken time out of the middle of Friday to help make sure each dog receives a spectacular headshot.

Puppy available for adoption at Brandy Wine Valley SPCA in West Chester.
Johnny smiles for the camera.

The volunteer community that encompasses BVSPCA is noteworthy. I cannot recommend it enough to anyone looking to make a difference in an a dog or cat’s life. They single handedly have the most organized and flexible format for volunteering I’ve seen in a shelter environment with opportunities to assist across a spectrum of needs and schedules.

Volunteer holding puppy available for adoption at Brandy Wine Valley SPCA in West Chester.
Marcus returns the adoration, nuzzling into volunteer Emma, at the Brandywine Valley SPCA in West Chester.

Whether you’re visiting the Brandywine Valley SPCA to volunteer or adopt (or both), I look forward to seeing you there. You can check out any of the dogs featured here that are currently available for adoption by checking out the BVSPCA adoption page. You can also see these and more pups from our session on the Lifestyle Dogtographer Page or @kristenkiddphotography on instagram.


Kristen Kidd Photography is a family portrait photography studio in the North Wales suburb of Philadelphia, Pa. We specializes in helping two-legged and four-legged families stop and reconnect with the love in their lives through fun and unique photo experiences and custom designed wall art collections.