Hope Harris’ photos save lives of shelter cats

Every Tuesday for the past seven years, Curtis Park neighbor and professional photographer Hope Harris has loaded up her cameras, headed to the Front Street Animal Shelter and photographed cats for adoption.

Her photos are posted to the shelter’s Facebook page, where cat lovers interested in a new furry friend can view the portraits. Her charming pictures have helped increase adoption numbers to 80 percent of the shelter’s cats.

At a recent session, Hope took photos of 16 cats, including three young kittens that shelter volunteer Marsha Menzel has bottle fed since infancy. Hope uses various backdrops, costume jewelry and accessories to playfully enhance the setting.

“Hope Harris is a lifesaving photographer,” says Gina Knepp, Front Street’s Animal Care Services manager. “Her passion for animals teems in her work. We credit Hope with saving thousands of cats with her extraordinary photography, bringing life, passion and personality to each individual cat. We will never be able to repay her for her kindness.”

Hope’s inspiration? “I had seen a video of a woman on the East Coast who had an idea to start taking beautiful portraits of animals at an animal shelter, and it made a huge difference in the adoption rates,” she says.

Hope grew up following her Air Force father to different military deployments. She started taking animal photos while living in Izmir, Turkey. Hope studied photography at the Ray-Vogue School of Design in Chicago, which allowed her to explore her artistic creativity while learning the intricacies of the large-format 4-by-5 camera. She is inspired by the works of Richard Avedon, Sara Moon and Irving Penn.

Hope eventually moved to Sacramento, where she worked at the Black and White Photo Lab. She has lived in Curtis Park for 14 years. She shares her home with cats Lily and Skippy. She loves the neighborhood’s people, trees, greenery, parks and sense of safety.

In her studio at the Sierra 2 Center, Hope does fine art photography, family and pet portraits, and commercial work. Her photos display a sense of simplicity, feeling, and sometimes whimsy.

A gallery of her portraits may be seen at www.hopeharrisphotography.com.

Note: As we were going to press, Hope told us that all three cats photographed in this issue of Viewpoint have been adopted.

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