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Capturing Joy: Rachal Rosalee Pet Photography

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Beloved Kindergarten teacher is also popular Hornell-based artist

GALLLERY and story by: Johanna Elattar

In the quaint town of Hornell, where the charm of small-town life is palpable, Rachal Childs seamlessly blends two passions that define her life: teaching young minds and capturing the essence of beloved pets through her lens. By day, Rachal is a dedicated Kindergarten teacher, shaping the lives of her students with patience and creativity. When Rachal is not teaching, she transforms into a skilled pet photographer, co-running Rachal Rosalee Pet Photography with her partner, Lee Cummings.

Rachal’s journey with photography began long before she considered it a professional endeavor. “I’ve been around cameras my whole life,” she shares, a twinkle in her eye reminiscent of the joy she finds in her work. Initially, her subjects were family, friends, and pets—each click of the shutter capturing precious moments and intimate expressions. This early practice laid the foundation for her distinctive style, characterized by an acute attention to the little things in her subjects and their surroundings.

For the past five years, Rachal has been a Kindergarten teacher in Hornell, nurturing young minds with enthusiasm and care. About three years ago, she took a bold step to combine her love for photography and animals, establishing Rachal Rosalee Pet Photography. The business, a labor of love shared with Lee Cummings, has since become a cherished venture in the community.

A self-proclaimed dog lover, Rachal draws much of her inspiration from her own Black Lab, Oakley. “Oakley was adopted through the Humane Society. He’s four years old now and has been a constant source of joy and inspiration,” she says. Oakley’s playful nature and loyal companionship epitomize the bond between pets and their owners, a bond Rachal strives to capture in each photograph.

Specializing primarily in dog photography, Rachal has honed her skills in capturing the true essence of her subjects. She explains, “Photography is about seeing the little things in the subject and surroundings.” Whether it’s the glint of mischief in a puppy’s eye or the serene wisdom in a senior dog’s gaze, Rachal excels at revealing these subtle nuances.

Her approach is both candid and intuitive. “I like taking candid shots of my pet subjects. I do this by getting a quick read on the pet’s personality,” she elaborates. Puppies, with their boundless energy and unpredictable movements, present a unique challenge. Yet, Rachal’s patience and understanding of animal behavior enable her to capture even the most fleeting moments of their exuberance.

Running a pet photography business is not without its challenges. In today’s economic climate, many people find it difficult to allocate funds for professional pet photos. “This is a hard time for people financially,” Rachal acknowledges. Despite this, the emotional rewards of her work are immense. “One of the biggest rewards is when I deliver the photos to the clients and see how happy and grateful they are,” she says, her smile reflecting the fulfillment she derives from her work.

Among her numerous clients, one experience stands out vividly: Grandview Canine Care in Arkport, NY. This “doggie daycare” introduced Rachal to a diverse array of dog personalities. Each encounter was a new adventure, filled with unique quirks and endearing traits. These experiences have enriched her portfolio and deepened her appreciation for the individuality of each pet.

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Rachal offers invaluable advice to pet owners looking to capture special photos of their animals. “Be honest and open about your animals—whether they have biting issues, don’t like certain people, etc. Also, clean up and brush your pet before the photo shoot,” she advises. Understanding what motivates the animal, be it food, toys, or affection, can also make a significant difference in the success of the shoot.

Looking ahead, Rachal has heartfelt plans for her photography business. She hopes to offer “end of life” photo sessions for pets nearing the end of their journey. These poignant images would serve as lasting tributes to the unconditional love and companionship pets provide. Additionally, she plans to volunteer her services to the Humane Society, taking photos of adoptable animals to help them find their forever homes.

Rachal Childs’ story is a testament to the power of passion and dedication. Whether in the classroom or behind the camera, she brings a unique blend of empathy, creativity, and skill to everything she does. Through Rachal Rosalee Pet Photography, she continues to celebrate the profound connection between humans and their pets, one photograph at a time.

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