Dog photographer Jack Jackson is showcasing heartwarming stories of members of the LGBTQ+ community and their rescue dogs via his Rescued By Love photography project and exhibit. This cross-Canada tour will be starting in Bradford, ON in early March, hitting Vancouver, BC towards the end of March, arriving in Winnipeg, MB in April, Halifax, NS in May, and ending with a Calgary, AB stop in June.

Throughout the tour, Jackson will also be interviewing and photographing new particpants for the project. We asked Jackson about what the project means to him and what goes into being a professional dog photographer!


Modern Dog: How did you get started as a dog photographer?

Jack Jackson: I just started taking photos of dogs on my phone, but I got obsessed with action photography so bought myself a camera, and then I got even more obsessed. That makes it sound quick, painless and easy – it’s not always been easy, it’s certainly been painful (two wrist surgeries later) and learning anything new takes time. I took a few different short courses in the early days whilst I was figuring out manual mode and photoshop but crucially I got a mentor – the lovely Jason Krygier-Baum – and that’s when things really started progressing. My move to Canada was the beginning of some fairly major life changes.

I left the security of the corporate world behind me and started working towards something that I loved. I felt like a kid in a candy store, like I was making up for lost time – it was dizzying and my output was prolific. I’d found work that I loved in a city that I loved and I couldn’t get enough of it. I was constantly learning and still am – I think there’ll always be something to learn. That’s the beauty of photography.


Modern Dog: What was the inspiration for this project?

Jack Jackson: It was a coming together of a couple of things – my now project partner had reached out to me via Instagram about my dog photography and we just hit it off. She’s a portrait photographer with a background in dog rescue and I’m the dog photographer and part of the queer and trans community. And then of course, there was Jet.

I was in no position to get a dog, I ended up on my own, no job, mid gender transition, not even knowing if I could stay in the country that I loved. It was the worst period of my life. I was paralyzed by fear but I knew, despite even my housing being uncertain, getting a dog would help. Jet Jackson bounced into my life and changed absolutely everything. She was the inspiration for both Don't You Want Me (DYWM) and it’s emergency support fund and became my model for my dog photography. Often, as a result of discrimination, ignorance and hate: mental health, addiction and trauma are stacked high in our community and I believe visibility and awareness help keep people alive.

The situation I ended up in is unfortunately not uncommon in our community. I feel lucky to have survived it, I almost didn’t. But I was in my 40’s with years of life experience behind me and crucially, support from my dad. Many people don’t have that, and many people don’t survive. And that continues to be one of the fundamental driving forces in me working the way I do. It’s for the voices and stories we didn’t get to hear, that’s the real inspiration for DYWM.

Amie, Diana, and Family

Modern Dog: What do you think accounts for the particularly strong bond between rescue dogs and members of this community?

Jack Jackson: I guess so many of us understand what it feels like to need a home, to need a family. We understand what it feels like to be completely alone in this world – you know, that makes it sound sad, and it is sad – but it’s sad that homophobia or transphobia are often the cause of that isolation. On the flip side, when the dog finds its person, all kinds of magic can happen. I was just on a zoom call today with a new project participant and her wife to prepare for their portrait session and we were all in tears. She was talking about the period just before she got her dog, and just like me, she knew she needed a dog that she couldn’t afford, and just like me she said the dog saved her life.

She’d ended up in a really terrible situation, which in part had its roots in homophobia. She felt worthless, she couldn’t get help from her parents (ultimately because of her sexuality) and she felt like a burden to her wife. But thank god she got that dog, because this person is beautiful, successful and talented, and managed to leave her country to make a better life for herself and her wife in Toronto, she’s won awards at university and I feel incredibly lucky to have met her. And her dog too – it got given up by it’s previous owners twice, but she promised the dog she’d make it work, and she has, and the dog has blossomed. 


Modern Dog: What has the response been like for this project?

It’s been really heartwarming. I’m so glad people see not only the potential of DYWM, but the power of it too – the power of storytelling to really change the lives of LGBTQ people, rescue dogs and also to cause a shift in mainstream perceptions, particularly around gender. The power in dogs who are unwanted or deemed disposable being able to save people’s lives is incredible. We’ve been so lucky to have the support of the local community and businesses too.

We were approached by Pet Valu last year who not only donated to the Emergency Support Fund, but are also sponsoring DYWM to travel across Canada to exhibit the project and do more DYWM photo sessions – how cool is that!. Pet Valu have been fantastic to work with and have been the springboard we needed in bringing more awareness to our work, community and rescue dogs. We’ve also been approached by a book publisher and there’s talk of a documentary too – there’s lots on the go, and to be honest, I'm still pinching myself. The people and dogs I’ve photographed for DYWM have ended up feeling like family. They are the reason for the success of DYWM and they inspire me every single day. 

Nanook and Bri

Modern Dog: What do you have planned for your future photography projects?

Jack Jackson: I’m sure there will be other photography projects, but right now, I can't see beyond DYWM. I feel like we’re only really getting started. After the Canadian Tour this year, I hope to document more people with their rescue dogs in Europe and also try to integrate myself into some more remote communities. The possibilities for DYWM are endless really. In terms of my dog photography, I’m talking with a canine nutritionist about doing the photography for her book – dogs and their humans eating the same healthy food – so much fun!!! I also want to work on a photo series with just dogs, maybe taking on more classic and art inspired themes. And that’s the beauty of dog photography – and photography (and dogs) in general, there’s so much you can do, so much to learn, so much to love and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get enough of it.

Are you a member of the LGBTQ+ community with a rescue dog that has had positive impact on your life? Apply to particpate in the project here.