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the first annual SDP Holiday Tribute gift ~ {Ontario pet photographer}

i’ve toyed around with an idea for some time now …  yes, SDP gives back throughout the year in regards to raising funds and awareness for pet rescue groups and taking photos of foster dogs.  but for a while i’ve wanted to find a way to give back to an individual.

it’s without question that, in my chosen line of work, i meet a lot of awesome scruffnuts … but equally as meaningful to me is the opportunity to meet the many truly amazing pet guardians who share their lives … people who love not only their own animals, but anything with four legs … people who move heaven and earth to truly fulfill their pet’s needs and lives … people who love their scruffies unconditionally … people who give tirelessly to the welfare of all pets … people who rescue or adopt.  i’ve also seen my share of loss in the years that i’ve been shooting other peoples’ pets … so i know, first-hand and through SDP, how meaningful those captured images of our pets end up being.

with all of that in mind, it has often left me wondering about the pet guardians i don’t see … people who wouldn’t think to book their own photo session for their pet, or who can’t afford it, or who selflessly spend their money on anything but themselves.  well, this holiday season i want to give a scruffy dog session to someone just like that!

yes, a scruffy dog session giveaway! … no voting, no facebook ‘likes’ … not some online popularity contest.  this is about hearing your heartfelt stories and giving back in the best way i know how:  capturing meaningful and moving images of the special pet in someone’s life because it would mean the world to them. one very special session to a well-deserving, extraordinary person who perhaps can’t invest in a custom photo session, or someone who would be more likely to give an SDP gift certificate than purchase one for themselves, maybe someone who works tirelessly for the welfare of our companion animals, or someone going through a tough time and whose pet is the only thing getting them through … whatever the story, i want to hear it!

and since i would like to present this Tribute Gift in time for the holiday season, you don’t have much time to get your nominations in!  the submission period will run right up until midnight, December 22nd, and my hope is to announce the recipient of the SDP Holiday Tribute gift on the 23rd or 24th.

here’s what you need to submit:

1. your name

2. nominee’s name (yes, your own name if you’re nominating yourself)

3. nominee’s email address (we’re obviously going to have to send them their gift certificate!)

4. nominee’s location/city

5. nominee’s story: what makes them deserving? their situation special? tell me about their bond with their pet and what their pet means to them … maybe even what an SDP session would mean to them.  (there is no limit to the word count, but please bear in mind that i’ll have to read through what i imagine could be many submissions.)

6. a photo of the nominee’s pet or a link to a posted photo of the pet (why? because i’ll need something to post on the blog and facebook when i announce the winner.)

7. and perhaps a little about the nominee’s pet … but remember, this is more about the nominee and the reasons you are nominating them.

… and yes, you are allowed to nominate multiple people.

please submit all of the above information to: … and please title your email: “SDP Holiday Tribute Gift”

please know that the SDP Holiday Tribute Gift is a scruffy dog Starter session, and will be shot here in the Kitchener-Waterloo area in one of our awesome locations … however, this session can be upgraded and/or travel can be purchased.  also, this is intended for one pet — that one special pet in one special person’s life — but adding pets is always possible for the typical SDP additional pet fee.

if you don’t already follow the SDP facebook page, you might want to start, as this is where i will be announcing the recipient first.

so, think about the deserving, selfless, pet-loving people you know in your life who you think would truly cherish some photographic memories of their 4-legger, and send me their stories now!  you have until December 22nd!  i look forward to reading all of your nominations!

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  • {Photographers Giving Back} Scruffy Dog Photography | I Heart Faces[…] most recent and exciting endeavor I’ve undertaken, going on right now, is the Scruffy Dog Photography Holiday Tribute Gift. This session-giveaway targets deserving individuals in the world of companion animals, whether […]ReplyCancel

  • Andy MathisI think it is so cool that you chose NOT to use Facebook for this giveaway. No voting. No Liking. No stumping for votes from Facebook friends.


  • Valerie Beyerlove, Love, LOVE the idea Illona! Thank you for your generous spirit – you really do make the world a much better place 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Pam KeetchI love this…there are so many unsung heroes out there quietly doing amazing things. You rock Illona!ReplyCancel

  • Jean GulakWhat a great and original idea!ReplyCancel

  • Alex Mortimer @ Wakefield PhotographerSo nice to see a photographer who is so passionate about their subjects, the dogs and their owners! Also great to see a photographer who isn’t basing their competition on the popularity and the amount amount of likes a person can get from their Facebook friends! A true inspiration.ReplyCancel

    • illonathank you for your kind words, Alex. while it’s true that i tend to love dogs more than people, i have met SO many amazing and extraordinary pet guardians in my years of shooting, and can only imagine the number of similarly passionate, selfless guardians who can’t necessarily afford the expense of a custom photo session.

      as for the whole facebook thing … i agree … at the same time, i’ll continue to have the occasional FB contest. (a) it’s an easy way to hold a contest and give-away, but (b) yes, it tends to increase the “likes” on the page. what i hope people understand, however, is that the “likes” aren’t for my ego or some kind of measure of popularity … but rather, it’s for exposure, and NOT necessarily exposure for SDP. big numbers of ‘likes’ equates to potential influence … and that influence comes in handy when trying to deliver a message, or more importantly help with the adoption of a hard-to-place animal. although i can’t do it a lot, when i DO share a unique pet on the SDP FB page who is in need of a home, it gets adopted. so… there are ulterior motives to getting more ‘likes’ and followers.ReplyCancel

  • scruffy dog photographyaw, thanks so much, Valerie.ReplyCancel

  • scruffy dog photographythanks so much, Pam.ReplyCancel

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