When something special happens at the ASPCAlike a press conference announcing new laws that protect animals, or the arrival of a super-cute bunch of kittensyou'll find ASPCA staff photographer/creative director Samarra Khaja on hand with her camera. Samarra takes the photographs that accompany the articles in ASPCA Animal Watch, and it's also her job to make sure that everything in the magazine looks great.
Skills and training required for the job:
A fundamental knowledge of photography, general art study and computer skills. Samarra has a degree in Fine Arts, with a concentration in printmaking, drawing and, photography.
Hardest part of the job:
All the organizing that happens behind the scenes. "And when I get to a photo shoot, I also have to prepare to wait, wait, wait," says Samarra. "Patience and a lot of film are the greatest things to have!"
Footwear requirements for an animal photographer:
Small animals, especially kittens, don't exactly sit still for photographs, so Samarra tells us, "I always take my shoes off, so as not to step on them!"
Funniest thing that ever happened at work:
"I've had my arms nibbled on by wild horses while trying to get photos of their siblings. I met a camera-shy sheep who ran from me every time I took a step towards him." And then there was the ferret who got into her camera bag and ran off with her empty film canisters...
Her advice for aspiring animal photographers:
"Start now! It doesn't matter what kind of camera you have or what animals you are able to photograph. Why not start with your family pet? And remember that every photographer has taken a bad picture, so don't worry if things don't initially work out the way you like. If the images are blurry because you or the animal moved, try again!"
If you were her cat, you'd have a long name, too:
"I am the Mommy to three cats: Chloe Royale, Ming Chai and Echo Meow." Says Samarra.