By Kathleen Reynolds
Photographer Suzanne Hawken wondered why the only dog portrait book in the Napa Valley was the one about winery dogs.
“Why not have a book to celebrate rescued dogs and the people who rescued them?” asks Suzanne, who says she’s had rescued animals most of her life. “It’s also a meaningful way to give back to the animal shelters.”
Suzanne says 10% of the book’s purchase price will be donated to the Napa Valley rescue organization of the recue dog owner’s choice. The book should be available mid-February and will contain portraits of 40-50 dogs.
“For a nominal fee of $99, the owners receive a professional digital color photo of their rescued dog, to be included in the book, $25 of the fee will also be donated to a Napa Valley rescue organization of their choice. Each owner will also receive a 20% discount off the purchase of the book.”
“The dedicated page of the books for each rescued dog will include a short blurb about the dog, and the owners have the choice to have their names mentioned or not.”
Napa Humane, Jameson Humane, various vet clinics and pet stores have offered their support for the project.
Like most things in her career, Suzanne is self-taught in the art of visual storytelling, although she’s taken photos as long as she can remember.
“The first camera I had was the Polaroid Instant back in the early 1980s. You took the picture and then had to shake it to develop it.”
“I don’t normally photograph dogs, but I’m loving this passion project I have created. I specialize in lifestyle photos for both businesses and individuals/families along with event photography, product photography and even 360˚ virtual tours of hotels, restaurants and wineries, which are exceptional in helping businesses get found more easily on Google.”
She’s been a full-time professional photographer for two years now and has her own studio. Suzanne focuses on clients from the hospitality industry and is one of three photographers at Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga for proposal photography bookings.
Originally from Toronto, Canada, she schooled in England for 11 years and has been in the United States, where she is a citizen, since 2001. She and her husband, along with their two youngest of five children, discovered Napa as a weekend destination during the pandemic.
“We hadn’t left the house for four months, and realized we absolutely loved visiting. So much so that we moved here three months later.”
Her name might be familiar to you if you’re a frequent reader of the online social media site Nextdoor.
“When I first came to town, I heard that Nextdoor had a lot of negative posts and comments,” says Suzanne. “I set out to be the most positive person on Nextdoor. I post photos of hummingbirds and beautiful scenery around Napa. Now when I talk to people walking their dogs and they hear my name, they recognize me from my Nextdoor posts. It happens all the time.”
“I think the rescue dogs’ photo book will do well because people have come to trust me and know me from Nextdoor. It’s been a catalyst for getting the book off the ground. They know I’m a local person and write about positive things. I’ve made friends from there; I even get hugs from people.”
While local bookstores and businesses throughout the Valley are expected to carry her book, books will also be available on Suzanne’s website: sheshootsshots.com. Submissions for the bookare being accepted until January 18, 2024. For more information, contact Suzanne at email@example.com or 707-210-5500.