Updated: Mar 13
My favorite part of being a photographer is the never ending adventure. I get to meet so many new and interesting people as well as see some amazing places and interact with animals that not many get to. Aside from photography, conservation of our environment and the animals that cohabitate with us is a major passion of mine. Being able to help the people and organizations on the front lines of these efforts with my photography is an amazing opportunity that stills has me in awe and in June of this year I was fortunate to partner with the Judith A. Basset Candid Education and Conservation Center (JABCECC) in Santa Ysabel, California.
The center has domesticated foxes, coyotes, a wolf and more wonderful animals that they offer experiences with as well as photo sessions with some to help raise money for their efforts in rescue and conservation of these amazing animals! Of course I was thrilled at the opportunity to partner with this non-profit, given they have strong values in fighting for these precious creatures and now I get to be part of the fight as well. However, I didn't always know this would be the route that I would end up taking.
I started out solely in portraiture. My biggest concern was getting enough clients to keep the dream of photography alive and able to stay open. Constantly worrying about making enough money to support everything that goes into it and if it was sustainable. That all shifted about a year into business when my wife and I started traveling for her job and I needed to re-evaluate where my business was heading and what I truly wanted to do with it. I remember thinking to myself that, although I love the art of portaiture, there was just something missing that I needed. That lead me back to my passions with the outdoors and animals (To read more about how I transitioned from just portraits to multiple genres, check out my article "Portraits, Wildlife and Nature: How the Adventure Started" on my blog page!).
We had been traveling for a few months and my new direction was like lighting a fire. I couldn't spend enough time in the mountains hiking and shooting. I was falling back in love with nature for a second time and it was magnificent. We were on an assignment in Flagstaff, Arizona when my friend had texted me to ask if I would be available for a session at JABCECC coming up, she was going to be out of the state working on some projects and needed a photographer to cover a session. I jumped at the opportunity! At this time I was in the middle of reorganizing everything about Cooper Graham Photography and this was the perfect opportunity to take my passions and start helping with the change I wanted to see. This was the perfect way for me to continue to get the artistic flow of portrait photography AND get to be part of something that matters to me personally. This all pushed me even further into conservation.
I recognized a long time ago that our planet needs our help, but I always felt too small to make a difference on my own. The misconception of only being one person was completely squashed during the first photoshoot we did at the center. The enthusiasm of the staff there was infectious and I got to see first hand as the passion formed in the client as they held a fox in their arms. This magical experience solidified that my purpose with my art is to help fuel the passions of people to get involved. Knowledge is a powerful thing and if I can help educate change the world, even just a little, through what I love doing then I have succeeded tremendously in my life!
For information about booking your very own experience at JABCECC go to