Letter from the Editor: Animal Collective

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Photo by Brock Wilbur

Greetings, dearest friends and readers. Welcome to the May 2023 edition of The Pitch magazine, wherein we finally dared to live out our longtime fantasy: an entire issue dedicated, wholly and completely, to little guys who just want to be little guys. No big thoughts, just big love.

This edition of our publication evolved behind the scenes more organically than just picking a topic and everyone diving in. Originally, this was going to be a magazine dedicated to Mental Health Awareness, as May is the month our society has designated as The Appropriate Time To Address That Whole Thing. 

For most of us here, our familiars are so integral to our lives that they’ve become equally integral to our work and space. Cats, dogs, turtles, and other “freelance fellows” are commonplace in our office. Last week, our conference room hosted a reunion of kittens who, born of our associate editor’s cat Shoresy, have now found homes with the rest of the staff. Yes, we’re all close enough now that we do actually adopt each other’s offspring. Keeping it all in the family.

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Courtesy Brock Wilbur

We didn’t want to just serve you an issue that was a glorified, snuggly pet calendar, as tempting as that would be. Instead, we sunk our teeth into the stories, movements, problems, and power in what the current moment challenges us to do regarding our tiny extended family members and their families at large—wild and domesticated—from the Midwest and even far away oceans. 

That said… we still wouldn’t deprive you of staff pet photos. We fell down a rabbit hole of discussing just how many—mostly blurry—pics one must snap of a pet to get an image that conveys a tiny, cute thing they were doing. Is pet photography really that hard for all of us?

To answer that question, we called up Angie House of Elly May Moments. She’s a local pro-shutterbug with her own biz, capturing animals with their owners and also shooting the images you see on pet products in major chain stores. Amid her stories of drool and hair, photoshop, and squeaky toys for sightlines, her most important bit of advice boiled down to one thing: meeting your pet at their perspective.

“You’ve got to come down to their level,” House says. “You’re working with a subject that is, maybe, 30 inches tall. You’ve got to be at their level to connect with this, and then you engage with them from there. Obedience is helpful, and using plain backgrounds can really make a pet pop, but the easiest thing that anyone photographing a pet can do is just meet them where they are and go from there.”

House—who has used everything from YouTube recordings of puppy sounds to mimicking the sounds of a stranger knocking to command pet attention—regrets how little time we have on this rock with our furry friends.

“I wish more people booked time for shoots with their pets before it was so near the end,” House says.

My Letter from the Editor exactly a year ago today was the story of a TikTok cat that had just passed and how her owner was dealing with the grief in a public, relatable, darkly comedic, and important-to-discuss way. That story of one single pet being removed from someone’s life, what comes crashing down, and what gets built in honor/tribute… that’s all followed up in the Pot Roast story on page 10 from Lauren Textor.

We’ve got interviews with pet doulas on how others choose to process grief, information on accessibility for humans and humanitarian efforts toward sharks in a piece about our new aquarium, and the murky politics around the service pet world—and the people exploiting the system.  

This issue has some moments that are really brutal to grapple with and a lot of moments built as shrines of pure delight. As you navigate it with us, please take a moment to let your heart breathe and  simply be thankful for all the animals in your life—present, past, and hopefully future.

Pitch in and we’ll make it through,

Brock Signature


Categories: Culture