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Paws Up For Ft. Sam Houston ISD Photography

FSHISD Photography for Pet Adoption

Photography Students Help pet adoptions and more

Fort Sam Houston ISD’s CTE Advanced Commercial Photography program at Cole High School has gone beyond its classroom walls. Students use their skills to support shelters’ pet adoption efforts, a clinic, and a store in San Antonio and New Braunfels. 

“I’m helping the shelter because there is always someone out there looking for their own fluffy friend, I’m just making the search easier,” explains Thalia Sagon, a student studying photography.

Students are not only helping a cause, but they’re learning about themselves. Alexandra Rojas, a photography student, goes on to say, “I am very proud of myself throughout working with the animal shelter. I was able to get amazing photos when I had some doubts in myself.” 

Artistic Pet Portraits Fundraiser

After studying Photoshop and graphic design skills, students conducted a fundraiser. They offered artistic pet portraits to Ft. Sam Houston faculty and staff.  First, staff provided a snapshot of their pet.  Then, students edited the photos and created original artwork.  Finally, students presented the artwork featuring the pets.

Photography student Gabrielle Cunningham shares her experience in the project, “I enjoyed being able to use my creativity to provide staff of Fort Sam Houston ISD with quality portraits of their pets. This project helped further develop my understanding of Photoshop. I learned how to use several different brushes, filters, and color effects to create portraits that the staff would love.”

Fort Sam Houston photography students
CTE photography at fort sam houston isd
fshisd advanced photography

Veterinary Clinic Decor

The FSHISD Commercial Photography program partnered with the Spay and Neuter Network of San Antonio.  Students provided commercial photography services for promotional materials and clinic decor.

Jordan Craig, Executive Director of Spay Neuter Network says, “With so many daily demands, it is hard for us to capture our team in motion during a surgery day. Having the photography team from Sam Houston ISD photograph our interactions with the public and the pets we serve was incredible. Our team was overjoyed with the results. Seeing the students embrace the mission was impactful and we are excited to partner in the future.“

Learning Business, Designing Marketing Materials 

Students also created public relations materials, saving the organization money. Student photographer Grey Kaplan shares his hands-on experience, “One of the big goals in commercial photography is learning how to run and manage a photography business. This includes working with customers, meeting certain demands and deadlines, and making sure that you’re confident, but also kind and helpful.”

Not only do students learn how to shoot and edit, but also how to deal with challenges. 

Kaplan explains, “Due to the shifting conditions and busy environment, I was forced to either adapt and go with the flow and risk not getting any usable pictures, and that was not an option. People were running around, each room had different lighting, and the sun was constantly shifting when we were outside. The hands-on experience prepared us for almost anything we could think of facing in classwork and in our future in photography.”

Spay and neuter clinic fort sam houston isd
FSHISD photofraphy
fort sam houston CTE photography
ft sam houston CTE photography

Pet Portraits 

In addition to those projects, the students also partnered with Mike’s Dog Store.  They created ‘Santa Paws’ Portraits to spread joy to pet owners. In addition, students and honed their business skills, including mastering Photoshop and supporting school fundraisers.

First, students set up a full portrait studio at the store and Mike’s brings in the ‘purr’fect Texas Santa. Next, the students run the entire process. This includes promoting the event and running the donation transactions. In addition, students pose and photograph the pets to create portraits. After editing the images, students upload to the class photography website for pet owners to download and enjoy.


Giving Back while Gaining Skills

This project takes students through the full business process, including managing a tight holiday timeline and giving back to their community.

Mike’s Dog Store owner, Tina Kuykendall, shares the importance of this project, “Over the past five years, Mrs. Marafioto’s photography students provide an amazing service to our customers, creating memorable photos of their pets with Santa. Watching these kids interact with the pet owners and wrangle the pets, while facilitating a very professional photo shoot, is always the highlight of our year.”

Photography student, Henriette Cooper, shares her experience and how it helps her grow, “The Santa Paws experience helped me with my photography and business industry skills by helping me to get out of my comfort zone. During the experience, there was a lot happening. It was very fast-paced and we had to pay attention to the pets, lighting, the lights we brought, and the people. Although it was uncomfortable at the start, I started getting used to the pressure and the situation. It became a lot of fun, especially being able to interact and see the pets. I was able to experience all of the roles which included photographer, greeter, assistant, and cashier.”

Fort Sam Houston photography
Ft Sam Houston ISD CTE photography
photography students CTE FSHISD

Pet Adoption Project

The program developed a unique partnership with the Humane Society of the New Braunfels  to capture heartwarming “Valentine” portraits of dogs available for adoption. 

The students went above and beyond in creating compelling web and social media campaigns centered around the Valentine’s Day theme.

Making a Difference for Future Pet Adoptions 

By leveraging their skills in digital marketing, the students hope to connect potential adopters with their future furry companions.  Under the guidance of their instructor, Brenda Marafioto, students used their photography and Photoshop skills to produce high-quality images. Their goal is to highlight the unique personalities of each dog. These creative assets are provided to the Humane Society for use on their social media platforms.

The project provides the students with authentic commercial photography experiences and hands-on involvement in a real-world project. They gain valuable skills in photography, digital media, and marketing.  “We are thrilled to be part of this meaningful collaboration with the Humane Society of the New Braunfels Area. Our students are not only learning valuable skills but are also making a positive impact in our community. It’s a win-win for everyone involved,” says Brenda Marafioto, Cole High School photography teacher.

Photoshoot of Dog up for Adoption
photoshoot of dog up for adoption

All animals from their sessions have found homes, highlighting the impact of their work. Through their lens, Cole High School students are changing lives, one snapshot at a time. Their work embodies compassion, leaving a legacy of love and service in their community.

Student Alexandra Rojas, speaks of her experience at the shelter, “Each animal I took pictures with had different personalities. Some were scared, energetic, shy, and much more. I’m glad I was able to learn how to adjust to each animal. My favorite part was interacting with all the animals. Before taking their pictures, my group wanted to hang out with the animal first so it could get comfortable.”

Great job, Fort Sam Houston CTE Photography students and educators! 

Sources: New Braunfels Humane Society, Cole HS CTE Photography

Blog contributions: Nicole Sanchez, Intern, UT Austin

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