Issue 1 – Summer
Vegan Focus: What led you to here – what are you doing today? How did you decide to do more in your advocacy?
Emma: John and I have always been artists at heart. Our passion and motivation for animal protection was really the catalyst that inspired us to take the leap to leave music and find our authentic voice. We knew we had to advocate for animals and dedicate. We knew we had to dedicate our lives to creating a more compassionate, beautiful world.
In advocating for animals, we recognized the importance of our creative endeavors. John, leveraging his musical skills, delved into the realm of filmmaking, acquiring expertise in cinematography, video editing, color grading, musical scoring, sound design, 3D animation, and photography, among others. This exploration allowed him to discover his authentic voice, enabling him to communicate naturally and effectively.
My creativity has always felt most authentic in the forms of strategy, writing, and visual organization. During my time at the sanctuary, I learned how to tell stories in a way that inspired people. I learned how to conduct conversations as an artform, and lead people into embracing compassion. I use what I learned about storytelling and engaging people in how we craft our films and the stories we tell through photographs. I’m writing a book to serve the vegan community and increase the impact of vegan activism in everyday conversations. I took my love of visual organization and learned how to edit photographs, illuminating the beauty of farmed animals by highlighting their best features.
Storytelling is powerful. Through our art, we are seeking to individualize farmed animals, and demonstrate their intelligence, sentience, and emotional complexity. People connect with stories. And stories inspire transformational change. Everything we create is driven by storytelling. Every photograph comes with a card that details that individual’s name and story. Every film tells the story of someone.
Vegan Focus: What’s it like to tell the story of a rescue animal through photos?
Emma: Storytelling is at the heart of our photographs. Through our art, we want to individualize farmed animals. We want to help people realize that everyone has a story – absolutely everyone. We hope that our photos help people connect with farmed animals in a way that they never have before, and realize that farmed animals are just like us.
Capturing moments that show their unique personality or beautiful moments of love and friendship requires spending a lot of time with the animals! We really get to know them, their personalities, and their quirks.
For instance, one of our friends – Marley the cow – is very playful. She grew up with a dog as a best friend, so sometimes she thinks she’s a dog even though she weighs about 1,200lbs! When she starts to jut her head in the air and walk towards you, that’s her sign that she’s about to start jumping like a dog! So we know she wants to play!
Vegan Focus: What does “Everyone has a story” mean to you?
Emma: In our relationships with humans, we know everyone has a story. Everyone comes from a different background. Everyone comes from a unique family culture. And this background informs who they are, how they act, the choices they make, and so on. This is commonly accepted for humans.
But this is also true for animals. They too have a story. And they too have a personality that is informed by that story.
Animals are individuals, just like us. Some are happy-go-lucky. Some have trauma that causes them to act out. And everything in between.
One of my favorite examples of this is the story of Milo and Domino the cows. Both Milo and Domino were rescued from the same place. A farm that had descended into a land dispute between the tenant and owner. When authorities arrived, they found horror all around. There was broken glass everywhere, dead animals strewn about the fields, and even animals tangled in barbed wire trying to escape. It was hell on earth.