Grace Chon: Cedars-Sinai POOCH Volunteer Program

OK, I’ll admit it—I’m a sucker for any type of dog photography. That’s why when I came across Grace Chon’s new series of portraits shot to create trading cards for Cedars-Sinai’s POOCH volunteer program, I knew I had to feature it on the blog. Grace is based in LA and specializes in portraits of animals and their people, making her a perfect fit for this assignment. We caught up to chat a bit about the shoot, read more below!

How did you get involved with this?

Cedars-Sinai has an incredible therapy dog program called the POOCH Volunteer program. Each therapy dog/volunteer pair has their own trading card that they can hand out to patients. Cedars-Sinai wanted to redesign these cards and reached out to me about shooting some new images.

How does this project fit into your style?

Cedars-Sinai wanted to capture images that celebrated the bond between each dog/volunteer pair. They weren’t looking for stiff, posed portraits, but rather images that felt real and candid. I absolutely adore shooting images of people and animals! It’s one of my favorite things to do and I’m hired frequently for my ability to do it in a natural way.

Were there any challenges involved with this project?

We had to shoot 30 dog/volunteer pairs in two days, so our biggest challenge on this shoot was staying on schedule. Working with pets (and not studio trained animals) can be extremely unpredictable because you never know how a dog is going to react to being on set. There are hot lights going off, there are strangers walking around, there is a camera clicking in the dog’s face – it can all be really scary and overwhelming. I emphasized in pre-production how important it was that we stay on schedule so we could get everyone photographed without going into overtime. Luckily I also shoot very fast! I probably had about 20 minutes with each volunteer pair from the moment I shook their hands. Most had never been in front of a camera before, so I had to ease them into feeling comfortable and happy and open enough to show me how much they love their dogs. And I’m proud to say thanks to everyone involved, from all the volunteers, to the hospital staff, to the producer on set and everyone else on the crew, we made it ahead of schedule on both days!

What has the reaction to the images been so far? 

The feedback has been great! The hospital is getting a great response from the volunteers and patients and I’ve had a great reaction from people who view the images. I mean the little dogs are wearing little ID badges! Can’t get any cuter than that.

32123Did you learn anything through the creation of this series?

The people and dog volunteers that spend their free time making others happy are truly incredible. If only every hospital had a therapy dog program like Cedars-Sinai!

To see more of Grace’s work, visit

(Via: Wonderful Machine)

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