Cameron O’Steen, photographer-founder of the Yoga Animalia Project

Cameron O’Steen—a photographer who created the Yoga Animalia Project, which involves traveling to farm animal sanctuaries across the country, and shooting portraits of the animal residents there—recalls his earliest experiences with farmed animals, as a kid growing up on his grandparents’ ranch, north of Los Angeles. The first real friendship he forged with one of these animals, he remembers, was with a donkey named Eeyore. Over the years, O’Steen has worked as an animal caretaker at a handful of farm animal sanctuaries, and was speaking for this interview from Indraloka Animal Sanctuary in Mehoopany, PA—his home base, of sorts, for part of the year; other parts of the year, he travels to Veg Fests and, of course, to the sanctuaries he visits to photograph for the Yoga Animalia Project. The photography side of the equation, O’Steen explains, began in a highly different realm: He started helping a good friend who owned a wedding photography, and proved to have a good eye and a real gift. He started applying his new skill to shooting pictures at animal sanctuaries, including one in Salt Lake City, where he didn’t really know the animals—yet it worked, and he O’Steen captured some good images. He was encouraged by this, had a bit of a light bulb moment, and decided to keep going; he’s shot at 70 sanctuaries thus far. (As he was recounting all this, it should be noted, a rooster named Dharma, at Indraloka, was crowing up a storm. Loved it—Talking Animals, indeed!)  O’Steen discusses the criteria for including a sanctuary in the Yoga Animalia Project, plans for a coffee table book of these photos, and more. [Photos/Animals: O’Steen with Madalitso, from Indraloka Animal Sanctuary, in PA; Luna from Kindred Spirits Sanctuary, in FL; Little Dude, from Barn Sanctuary, in MI;  Flower, from Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge, in NC.] (http://www.yogaanimalia.com)

ALSO: I spoke with Gracie Grieshop, of Pet Pal Animal Shelter about an unusual fundraiser that was then on the horizon (Sept. 7), called “Diamonds in the Ruff,” offering new and used jewelry for purchase, by way of supporting Pet Pal. (https://petpalanimalshelter.com)

 

COMEDY CORNER: Demetri Martin’s “Pets to Cats”  (http://live.demetrimartin.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Joni Mitchell’s  “Black Crow”

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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