Keith Uehara

Photo from Keith Uehara

Photo from Keith Uehara

Pet owners know just how hard it can be to get your furry ones to sit still for a photo, and K9 Kokua volunteer photographer Keith Uehara uses his talents as a professional photographer to benefit the organization and the community.

“A lot of owners will tell me they want a picture of their dog or cat, but they’re not disciplined. But I always get the shot,” he says. “I won’t rush, we’ll take our time, but I’ll always get the shot for the parents.

“Babies, brides and pets are sensitive to your demeanor and your energy. You have to be calm at all times. If there’s a lot of anxiety, the pets are going to pick up on it. No matter what, you have to stay calm. I think that’s why I get my shot.”

K9 Kokua is an organization that focuses on dogs owned by Hawaii’s homeless population. The group provides food, medical attention and more for these animals, and Uehara is happy to lend a helping hand in support.

“For most people, their pets are their children,” Uehara explains. “There’s such a unique bond when you have pets.”

Throughout the year, K9 Kokua offers pet photography sessions. (The most recent was a Valentine’s Day arrangement at VCA Family Hospital in Pearl City.) The goal of the photo sessions is to raise money for the organization, and for past events customers would book a time slot and pre-pay on K9 Kokua’s website.

“This is so the owners wouldn’t have to wait; they would have a reserved time,” Uehara explains. “I would take their dog and get the portraits done, and they can pick up the prints later at the venue.

“I also would have everything online, so customers could buy more. A portion of the additional sales would go to K9 Kokua.”

He adds that some owners like to take pictures with their pets, while others are content with having their “furry child” as the main focal point. Normally he chooses to not use props, but for special events such as Christmas and Valentine’s Days, festive props are used.

Uehara first became involved with the organization because he wanted to donate his photography services to help raise money for the nonprofit.

His photography company, Keith Uehara Photography, focuses on wedding, family and baby portraits. (Visit for his pet photo galleries.)

In addition, Uehara does pet portraits (“Furry Friends”), which he started six years ago. Uehara loves what he does, and is more than happy to volunteer his time.

“When I can do something like that for someone, I guess that’s what I really enjoy,” he says. “Capturing the emotion and just making those images that they can have forever makes everything worth it for me.”