TruLife® Acrylic Features: Photo Contest Winner Carolyn Penn-Martin

Recently, TruLife® Acrylic partnered with HeARTs Speak in the Artists Helping Animals Photo Contest.



In this contest, artists and animal lovers who care and advocate for animals through shelter photography submitted over 100 entries and received thousands of votes. Each photograph was spectacular and showed the unique beauty of the animals and the shelters that care for them



The Winner of the HeARTs Speak Photo Contest is…

Shelter photographer Carolyn Penn-Martin submitted “Delilah”, the winning photograph.



“The photo I chose to enter in the contest was of sweet Delilah, who is a senior at Villalobos Rescue Center. It reminds me of what every animal should have that comes through a rescue or shelter; a sense of warmth, security, and family. Every pet deserves a family.”



TruLife Acrylic caught up with Carolyn Penn-Martin and learned more about her passion for shelter photography, Hurricane Katrina, and a few tips on animal photography.



When did you join HeARTs Speak, and what was it about their mission and vision that spoke to you and what you do?


I have been with HeARTs Speak for just over a year now, and their mission statement to increase the visibility of every shelter pet is what I live every day working for at the Villalobos Rescue Center, and caring for the dogs.



Before I started photographing the dogs, I was a simple caregiver for the animals that came into the facility. All that the employees and volunteers want is for the dogs to find the home that they deserve.



What are the challenges for animal photographers?


I think one of the biggest challenges for animal photographers is trying to speak the same language as they do, and finding the one thing that gets their attention.



I find that if you can accomplish that, then you can show off who they are and capture it at that moment.



What tips do you have?


Always have a spare pair of hands and a lanyard full of noisemakers! They both save my life because I can barely whistle and I am horrible at making funny sounds. You often need to use noise as a way to get the animal’s attention.



Do you have any case studies or stories of how taking photos of animals has helped them get adopted or raised awareness for the cause?


I have one experience that resulted in two great stories. I took a trip to Maryland to assist with photographing a horse in need. While I was there, I visited a small county shelter and took pictures of all the dogs in the shelter.  Afterwards, I heard that two dogs (Bo, a white pit bull, and Boss, a brindle pit mix) were adopted because their new families saw my photos on the shelter’s Facebook page.



When did you realize photography was a passion of yours?


I have lived in New Orleans almost my entire life and lived through Hurricane Katrina. After the storm passed, there were many stories of people being rescued and not being allowed to take their pets with them which resulted in seeing strays everywhere.  It was a hard pill to swallow.



Since high school, I have always had an interest in photography, but it wasn’t until after Hurricane Katrina that I bought my first Sony camera.



Once I started working for Villalobos and saw some of the cases that came through, it broke my heart. The animals don’t ask for the life that some of them have dealt with, and someone needs to help them. If I can do it through a photo, it makes me feel like I made a difference.



Where was this photo taken?


This photo was taken during a promotional shoot for Villalobos’ Pooches & Pajamas sleepover program that is held at The Olivier House in New Orleans, LA.





Was this shot planned?


This particular photo was not planned. Delilah decided to hop on the sofa, and I turned around and just snapped the shot.



What camera and lens did you use? Why?


I used a Sony a58. The lens used for this picture was a 50mm Prime. I was shooting in very small, tight quarters which meant that my 70-200mm wouldn’t work for that location.



Are there any important technical details of the shot? Timing? Exposure? Lighting?


I got lucky.



What has the reaction to the photo been?


Everyone at the rescue is in love with this photo! We all adore Delilah and love that she was featured in the Pooches & Pajamas program. She is a fabulous bed partner and obviously looks great on someone’s sofa.



I can’t tell you how much I love it. When I look at it, if it was the size of a window and I was peeking in, that being all I saw, it would look real almost life-like.



The clarity and vibrancy are phenomenal. I never thought that a photo could look that good hanging on my wall. I get nothing but compliments whenever anyone sees it.



Where can we see more of your work?


My website:




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