Episode 4: Mindy Dutka – Dogs I Meet

Mindy Dutka

Mindy Dutka

Boston based photographer, Mindy Dutka, has been crafting her pet photography skills for the past several years. Combined with her passion for animals, especially dogs, Mindy creates opportunities for businesses, rescue organizations, and families to use photographs to tell stories that inspire, fundraise, and give back to these beloved animals that don’t have a voice of their own. Mindy believes that every dog has a tale, and these tales should be shared and heard.

 

Learn more about Mindy and Dogs I Meet:

Dogs I Meet website: dogsimeet.com

Keep up with Mindy and Dogs I Meet on social media:

Facebook: facebook.com/dogsimeet

Instagram: instagram.com/dogsimeet


Mindy:

Hi, I’m Mindy Dutka, and you are tuned into the Animal Innovations show.

 

Narrator:

You’ve tuned into the Animal Innovations Show, where we feature people, products, services, and ideas that are helping animals and the people who care for them, live better lives.

If it’s innovative, and if it helps animals, you can find it here first.

So, get ready. Here comes this week’s newest innovation for animals.

 

Chris:

Yey! That was a great introduction. Thank you, Mindy. And welcome. So glad you’re here.

So, why don’t you start us off? Tell us about who you are and how you’re innovating to help animals.

 

Mindy:

Okay, so I am the founder, or I like to give myself the title of the Chief Storyteller, of Dogs I Meet pet photography.

Just like it sounds, I am a dog photographer, although I did get a call today for cats, so I can photograph cats as well.

But there are, I would say, three segments, three different areas of my business that I focus on.

One is dog photography for businesses that are pet-related. So, something like, you know, a veterinary clinic, dog trainers, pet products.

And then I also focus on businesses that are dog-friendly. Of course, the world has turned upside down, and there’s COVID. But it used to be that there were, you know, several different businesses, and they allowed their employees to bring their dogs to work.

And for them it was actually a recruiting tool because, especially with millennials. I mean, who doesn’t like it? Now, everybody gets to work with their dog.

 

Chris:

Right. I was just gonna say, they’re here now, right?

 

Mindy:

Right, you know. So, now, you know, the dogs are the star of COVID. They are keeping everybody’s sanity. (laughs)

 

Chris:

Exactly. I think that is so smart. So, I’ve never heard of anybody that’s doing that. As you know, I mean, there’s lots of people that photograph animals and pet photographers and stuff, but you really niched down and said, ‘I’m gonna go focus on those pet-friendly businesses and really photograph their residents or their people.’”

 

Mindy:

Exactly. I mean, nowadays, you know, everything is content-driven, and more and more and more, especially again with the changes of COVID, it’s online. People are focused on their content, and they tend to do the visuals as an afterthought.

But to me, that’s reverse. The visual is what comes first, especially with an overload of content. That’s what’s going to capture people’s attention.

Stock photo, you know, it has its purpose, but its stock photo. It’s not you. It doesn’t tell your business’s story. It’s not your people. It’s not your stuff. It’s not your clients. It’s not, you know, their pets.

So, actually, one of my biggest clientsand then they have a wonderful storyis Veterinary Emergency Group.

What’s unique about them is that they don’t separate you from your pet. Okay? So, you go into an emergency situation. Everybody’s stressed. Their tagline is they “find a way to say yes”.

So, you know, you can stay with your dog, your cat, your animalyou can sleep over.

 

Chris:

Really?

 

Mindy:

Yeah. I mean, you know, the stress level just goes, you know, down for the animal and down for the human. But they want to capture that.

So, you know, I go in, and I do an on-site photo shoot for a couple of days because it’s more of a documentary, you know, and it’s like a hospital. You can only photograph. Come through the doors, and you need to be there to take pictures, you know, and they value telling their story and photos about them.

And also, it shows their employees that their employees matter. You know, when they’re there, and they want them to see themselves in the picture, not just, you know, a stock photo.

 

Chris:

Was this just an idea that came to you? Did somebody ask you? I mean, how did you get into doing this? This is such a really cool thing.

 

Mindy:

I mean, I started off doing, I mean, and I still do, you know, private commissions with individual people and their dogs, which I do still do.

But I wanted to reach businesses, and I didn’t particularly want to do, like, big commercial photoshoots for, you know, the cover of, you know, like Purina dog bag. Or, you know, something like that.

And I was particularly really interested in companies that allow dogs to come to their office. So, I just sort of evolved and, you know, then I kind of drilled down to the why and all the branding things that you do, and put it out there.

 

Chris:

Nice. Now, you’re up in the Northeast, right?

 

Mindy:

Yeah, I’m right outside of Boston.

 

Chris:

Have you had any trouble finding clients? I gotta figure there’s lots of pet-friendly companies out there.

 

Mindy:

There really are. And, you know, it’s a very tech-friendly area and very, you know, I don’t wanna age myself, but, you know, a lot of millennial companies, a lot of really large, innovative, tech companies.

And they tend to beI mean, there’s plenty of othersbut they tend to be the ones that, you know, allow employees to bring their dogs to work. So, yes, there are many companies around for me to market to.

 

Chris:

Yeah.

 

Mindy:

The pet industry itself is just exploding, and now, even more so than it was before.

So, there’s, you know, there’s these dog trainers and doggy daycare. And it’s just so powerful for them to have me come and photograph them working with the actual dogs that they work with for other people to see.

And the other thing, you know, again also, with people’s websites or social media, the quality of the photos is very, very important. And I know, that will really even realize how important it is.

And like anything else, I mean, you know, I’ve spent years studying. I have thousands of dollars worth of equipment. You do technology. I can’t do that. I gotta hire somebody for that, you know? But everybody’s in iPhone, and they’re like, ‘I could take pictures of that’.

 

Chris:

(laughs)

 

Mindy:

I don’t need to take pictures, but there is absolutely, you know, a big difference in what you get.

 

Chris:

Yeah, what have you noticed? I mean, these companies, obviously, they’re commissioning you, right? They’re bringing you into theWhat do they do with these photos? Are they using them on the website? Are they framing them?

I mean, give me some context. I mean, do theysounds like they are—can you explain the value?

 

Mindy:

First of all, the veterinary group, that’s how they choose to decorate their hospitals.

 

Chris:

Oh, cool.

 

Mindy:

So, you know, select and large canvases go up on the wall so that their staff and their employees can see that, as well as the clients who come in, and they can see their, you know, like, their story right up there.

And they use them as well for their website. They use them for social media. They use the pictures for brochures, so there’s lots of different ways to use the photos.

Some of the corporations, they actually use it on their websites. And I guess the human resource for recruiting.

Chris:

Oh, that’s a good idea.

 

Mindy:

You know, so that’s one of the things that they use it for. And they’ve done, like, back in the day, when people went to offices. You know, I’ve been there for happy hour, you know, I’d photograph that, you know. So, it’s just it’s a fun day for everybody.

 

Narrator:

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Learn more at www.animalrescueprofessionals.org and get certified today!

 

Chris:

So, how long have you been a photographer? Is this something you’ve done your whole life, or is this something?

 

Mindy:

No. I started Dog I Meet four years ago.

 

Chris:

That’s it?

 

Mindy:

That’s it.

 

Chris:

Only four years ago? Okay.

 

Mindy:

Four years ago. So, I had owned my own event company for many, many years, and I had a couple ofI’ve done a lot of other things, and I just sort ofI also relocated.

I’m from Manhattan, and I relocated up to this area. So, I was actually doing something else in the interim between these two businesses.

And I just kind of said, “Hey, I want to do something that I love. Like, I want the next career that II’m gonna have to create it.”

And I love dogs. I just love dogs. And so, I’ve always been a dog owner and dog lover, and I love photography. I’ve always been just fascinated with how it freezes in time. You know, a memory.

Sometimes, it creates a memory. You know, if you think of kids that look back at pictures, sometimes, it’s the photo that they’re remembering that their parents showed them than the actual memory.

But I just love how they tell a story and, you know, they freeze a moment in time. And to me, my tagline is “Because every dog has a tale.” T-A-L-E.

And they do. They have many tales, many stories. And whether it’s the dog story or the story that they bring to their humanI mean, you know, who rescued whoeverybody has a story.

 

Chris:

Right.

 

Mindy:

Dogs are so meaningful in our lives and so constant. So, you know, whether it’s your own dog, and you wanna honor it, you know, like, you know, a picture that really shows their dog and shows who they are. You know, that’s important.

And then for businesses, as we talked about. And then the third segment of my business is rescue because one of the things that was really important to me is to help dogs, but photographyit really does. It saves lives for a dog.

A good photograph is the difference between life and death. And I understand, you know, shelters and placesthey’re busy. They’re not photographers, but theyyou know, a dog comes in. It’s stressed out. It’s dirty, it’s scared. And they take these pictures like a mug shot. You know, of a dog in a cell, like in cinder blocks.

And people just kind of go through it, and, oh, you know, “That dog doesn’t connect with me.”

But when you put a picture of a dog that looks likeyou know, that dog could be sitting in your living room, and you see that dog’s personalityit’s a whole different thing. All of a sudden, you know, there is a connection, and people, you know, do want to rescue the dog.

Also, I’ve done a lot of international work, where I’ve been to Mexico, Puerto Rico, andwhere else?Cartagena. And I seek out different rescue groups, whichby the way, I’m also blown away at these people that dedicate their lives, you know, and it’s all volunteer, so I kind of look at it as theThat’s like the Charles Dicken, and the best and the worst of people. You know, people do horrible things to animals, but then, there’s this group of people that just are amazing.

 

Chris:

Right.

 

Mindy:

But without photos, people don’t know that, and they don’t understand that. And these organizations that are grassroot, these rescue groups, they’re doing amazing work, and they don’t have any way to raise money to continue to do the work if people don’t see the photos, if people don’t know what they’re doing.

So, you know, that’s another piece of it of, you know, taking pictures, bringing them back, putting them on my social media, on my Instagram, on my Facebook, and letting people know about these wonderful organizations and where and how they can donate to them.

 

Chris:

Yeah. So, what’s your vision for Dogs I Meet? Where do you see this going?

 

Mindy:

I don’t know. You know, it’s evolved since I started, and it evolves withyou know, pieces of it that resonate with me, and different opportunities just sort of popped up. Like, I was ableI photographed a spay neuter clinic in Mexico, which led to all these rescue groups that I found there.

So, I actually was doing a lot of work in Puerto Rico before COVID. We were due to go down there, and I had connected with someone that ran a vet from Taft, and they were interested in working with us there and starting a visiting student clinic.

So, there’s all kinds of different things, and for me, my background planning events gives me an edge that I can project manage things. So, it’s more than just photography. I can kind of see the whole big picture, and what needs to be done, and what needs to be put in place to make all the pieces work. So, I don’t know.

You know, I just want to keep meeting dogs, and spotlighting rescues, telling stories, and getting more clients because those clients that pay me allow me to do all the rescue work which is pro bono. So, without clients, I can’t continue to do, you know, my passion projects.

And certainly, you know, also even individuals. People have come back to me, you know? And sadly, dogs just don’t live that long, you know? And they’ve told me that the photos that they have, you know, are priceless, and it just means so much.

I mean, I’ve always liked photography, but it’s been in the last, you know, five, seven years that I’ve  really focused on it and study to get to a different level.

But I had a dog from the time I was probably 16, you know, almost 30. And I look back. I thought I took a lot of pictures, but I think I have three that are decent of that dog, you know? And I think people will find that, you know. They’ve got hundreds of pictures on their phone, but, really, is there any that does their dog justice of what they are and, you know, so that you can look at it?

I know, even for me, now. I just recently sadly lost my dog on 16. I have her pictures all over the place, and they justthey make me feel good. It feels like she’s here with me because I have these pictures of her.

 

Chris:

Well, Mindy, I think it is really cool. I think is really innovative what you’re doing and trying to, you know, bridge that gap with the human animal bond. So, if people are interested in learning more about you and about the work you’re doing, maybe they’ll wanna hire you. Tell us how to find you.

 

Mindy:

You can find me at my website, which is www.dogsimeet.com. I am also on Instagram, which is www.instagram.com/dogsimeet/, and you can find me on Facebook with www.facebook.com/dogsimeet. I’m happy to put my email out there: [email protected].

So, I welcome anybody. I always say, “Let’s talk dog!” So, everybody gets a free consultation, you know, to find out what it is, and brainstorm what works for them.

I do have for businesses that are within about 50 miles of my location, and they’ll see that because I call it “Dogs I Meet At Work”. There’s a segment on my website. I have package prices for them and all other businesses. And I do travel, so, you know, we work out a custom package, depending on what they need.

 

Chris:

Very cool. Well, Mindy, I’m so excited you came on today to share. Thank you. Everybody come and go check out www.dogimeet.com.

So, I want to thank you for being a guest on our show today. I really appreciate it. And just as a reminder to all of those that are watching and listening. If you’ve got an idea for somebody I should interview on the showa product, a service, just an idea, even—just go to innovations.show and let us know about it so we can get some more guests on the show.

So, thanks again, Mindy, I really appreciate you coming on.

 

Mindy:

Well, thank you so much. It was such a pleasure to be on, and I really appreciate that you invited me.

 

Narrator:

Thanks for joining us for the Animal Innovations Show!

If you want to volunteer to help animals, check out www.doobert.com, where you can join tens of thousands of Dooberteers supporting rescues and shelters around the world to help animals.

And, if you know of something or someone innovative that’s helping animals, let us know by going to www.innovations.show.

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