Photographer Who Shot That Iconic Prince Photo Is Also An Amazing Dog Rescuer

Nashville photographer Amiee Stubbs shoots a lot of concerts -- and a lot of rescue animals; more on that in a minute -- but she wasn't at the April 14 Prince show in Atlanta on assignment. Amiee was there as a fan -- a big one, who'd shelled out $350 for a third row center ticket to the show. She wasn't going to take any pictures. Amiee didn't have her professional gear on hand, and, anyway, Prince doesn't allow attendees to snap pics -- a policy Amiee, who's seen Prince live seven times, appreciates, and generally abides. But toward the end of the concert, Amiee couldn't resist getting up close to the stage, and taking a quick photo on her iPhone. She tried to be discreet about it; she assumed the photo would be just for her, to remind her what an amazing, sexy, impressive, moving performance she'd gotten to witness. She figured she'd get to see him perform many, many more times. Amiee shared the photo, after the terrible news of Prince's death, less than a week later. 13055411_1046970195385488_8166577371989052621_n By now you've probably seen it on NBC and CNN, and who knows how many other of the dozens of publications that have licensed the photo (or have used it without permission). You may have read this wonderful interview in the Los Angeles Times, wherein Amiee discussed the picture, and how she hopes it gives his devastated fans the feeling that they were there themselves, in the presence of this miracle of a musician. "I'm just so glad I took that photo I shouldn't have taken," she told the paper. 12512298_1137193946313926_2129433408196077806_n What you might not know is that Amiee's other passion, along with music, is animal rescue.  And she's an incredibly accomplished photographer in that realm, as well. 10941831_949659791734010_3135167870451476868_n "I can do dogs during the day, and rock and roll all night," she says. 12376650_1198057143560939_5421083691411022544_n You probably couldn't have planned this career. Amiee spent years in the corporate world -- blowing off steam with a night gig as a professional wrestler. (Her husband, Dan, is also a former pro wrestler. Obviously, they are our heroes.) 1935467_1137319622968025_3689596383570777456_n Amiee had long taken pictures as an amateur. While going back to college in the late 2000-oughts, she enrolled in a summer photography class as a lark. By the end of that class, she'd decided to major in photography. (To which we say: thank goodness.) 10462712_823780044321986_8326648329175150626_n Around the time for choosing a semester-long photo project, Amiee and her husband brought home a foster dog named Buster -- a deaf Pittie who earned his name by busting up their garage with his enthusiastic playing. Amiee decided to focus her project on dogs, and dog rescue -- to such an extent that her professor suggested that perhaps one week she could try turning in photos with no dogs in them, only people. She declined -- and, she says, her professor later "sent a nice apology." 10489764_823780094321981_727415253665360864_n Over time, Amiee began snapping adoption photos for local rescue groups, trying to help more dogs get into homes. She also got a dream gig -- albeit, an unpaid one: taking photos of the animals at the Nashville Zoo. In 2012, a veterinarian at the zoo told Amiee about volunteering with Animal Rescue Corps, a group that rescues animals from abuse, neglect, cruelty, natural disasters, and other unlivable situations. 12190045_1098109923555662_4101532675164911021_n Rescue is really, literally what they do -- working with law enforcement, ARC goes into the most horrific situations, helps collect evidence, and gets the sick, injured, and desperately at-risk animals out of danger and into safety. 10406422_824340480932609_3643326556435016723_n The vet invited Amiee to come along and document the next rescue operation. Amiee said yes. That was 28 missions ago. 972186_600618973304762_424388282_n At a typical rescue mission -- to the extent there is such a thing -- Amiee is among the first volunteers on the scene. She walks through puppy mills where matted, unwell, over-bred dogs are stuffed into feces-filled cages. She is there to witness starving dogs, left chained up or caged, when their owners have skipped town. 11017188_990966344270021_2074866686146482710_n Every kind of horror inflicted on dogs, Amiee is there to see -- to photograph. "I'm crying. I'm shooting. I'm angry," she says. 11139405_991101114256544_8673724977721099737_n The way Amiee gets through it, is by reminding herself that when she is done with her work, the dogs will be unchained, and uncaged. They will be groomed, and given love, and veterinary care. Her being there to see them, means that these animals are on the way to being ok. She knows their tails will wag, as they are walked out. 10623116_993645457335443_7708459417954118699_n And here's where concert photography meets animal rescue. 12189667_1098109536889034_5367066491854731525_n Amiee hopes that her photo of Prince helps fans who weren't at the concert, feel like they were there. That's what she's aiming for with her rescue pictures, as well. 12512746_1198057450227575_7823927258225670571_n To make you feel like you were there. In the puppy mill. At the hoarder's house. Wherever these animals were unlucky enough to be kept, until they were lucky enough to be found, and freed. 12439153_1137193832980604_167757191346743788_n Maybe her photos will then draw a few more people into animal rescue, and adoption, she hopes. Perhaps someone who'd been thinking of buying a dog, or a rabbit, will decide to adopt instead. "I want these photos to move people," she says. 8352_1137968039569850_3140698652473231140_n Just to bring it all back to Prince: Like all of us, after the musician's shocking death, Amiee began reexamining Prince's life, and work. She found herself moved anew by the song Animal Kingdom -- specifically a line Prince, who was a vegan, wrote about "not eating his brothers and sisters in the sea," Amiee says. Here's how it goes:
No member of the animal kingdom nurses past maturity No member of the animal kingdom ever did a thing to me It's why I don't eat red meat or white fish Don't give me no blue cheese We're all members of the animal kingdom Leave your brothers and sisters in the sea
Amiee stopped eating meat other than fish in 2012, after working with ARC for a few months. Since Prince died, Amiee has now given up fish, as well. "I don't want to eat it anymore," she says. She was also, understandably, curious if Prince had pets. She could see him with a couple of cats, maybe -- but found no great evidence to suggest the presence of actual felines or other critters at Paisley Park. That's ok. He did enough through his lyrics and activism. And anyway, "they probably would have gotten hair on his awesome clothes," Amiee says.

Hope Bobbitt

6 years ago

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