SLATINGTON – Sitting Monday morning in what was once a main street restaurant in Slatington, tears in Maggie Ewald’s eyes as she spoke about all the ways people can help others by putting their passions to work.
For some, that could mean volunteering with children or the homeless, fighting human trafficking or helping uplift their local community, she said.
For her, that means showing others what shelter dogs and cats look like through her camera lens and raising money for rescues in the area.
“They can only be heard through us”, said Ewald. “There is no other way. We as people must stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Ewald is putting his passion for helping rescues into practice through a new studio, Slobbery Dog Photography, 662 Main St., which opened over a recent weekend.
The space, about 10 times the size of her home studio in Orefield which she affectionately called “The noodle”, is full of light entering through the large front windows. The red-and-white checkered floor, as well as a counter near the back, betrays the building’s old purpose, but there are animal dishes near the door, baskets full of toys, and large footprints on it. the walls of dogs with tennis balls halfway through, tongues hanging out.
To the left of the front door, mismatched letters are written “FUM” on the wall, and just inside the threshold, books about dogs are stacked on an end table.
“I wanted to create a space where you feel at home when you walk in, where you feel comfortable and in which you can relax immediately” said Ewald.
Ewald has been a professional photographer for 13 years, focusing on weddings and families. It wasn’t until the past year or so that she focused on four-legged subjects, after a few years volunteering at local shelters and seeing a need for community support.
And while the studio is animal-oriented, it also welcomes human clients for sessions.
“Slobbery Dog was born with the idea that, yes, it’s a business and I hope clients will book me and invest in wall art and invest to come here to have their dog photographed.” she said. “But it’s kind of the way I can give my time to photograph the dogs at the shelter, but also to photograph to raise funds and donations.”
Last summer, she started a Senior for Senior program, where she asked clients to find a senior shelter dog or a dog that had been in a shelter for a long time and donate her session fee to her. In return, she would photograph the client’s dog for free.
Then, in November, she launched a fundraiser for the Lehigh County Humane Society, for which she photographed 31 dogs in eight hours.
She laughed, remembering the effort, and described it as a “crazy” day.
The initiative was a success, with 300 calendars sold, she said. Another calendar project raised $ 880 for Peaceable Kingdom in Whitehall Township.
This year, she hopes to expand the Senior for Senior program, securing donations for a different rescue or shelter each month.
“I know people want to help – they just want to know how” she said. “And sometimes people, like a lot of people, will do it for nothing in return, but sometimes people want to have something, to have a shoot, or to have pictures of their dog.”
Ewald had been looking for a bigger space for some time, she said, especially for clients who wanted to bring in four or five dogs at the same time for a shoot. But a tight budget meant that Allentown or Bethlehem were left out.
She wanted a place with a “Small town atmosphere” and I found him walking through Slatington. After contacting friends and district officials, she found her studio.
“These are companies that will come to these small communities that can also help revitalize it and bring some life and bring something different – something new”, she said. “I have always been impressed with the cleanliness of this area. It’s friendly, like people are walking past and just waving.
The pandemic, she said, gave her a chance to refocus her priorities and focus on her passion to help shelter animals, especially after 14 weddings she was scheduled to photograph were postponed. last year.
“The first two weeks I just sat there in front of my computer and I was lost”, she said. “It seemed like there were all of these things that motivate me and thrive on, and they just disappeared.”
But instead of dwelling on what she lost, Ewald saw an opportunity.
“So in all of this, this horrible situation – and it’s so much loss; I know people who have had to shut down their businesses, I know people who have lost loved ones – it’s almost like a silver lining ”, she said. “We have been able to enrich our lives in many other ways. I think a lot of the good came out of a lot of the bad. “