Awkward Pet Photos Can’t Be Missed This Pride Weekend

What do you get when you marry a little bit of Pride with a lot of dog, a couple sprinkles of drag Queen, one hot photographer and a pound of worthy cause?

By Jennifer Grant

Pride Weekend Fundraiser Called Awkward Pet Photos

It’s Awkward Pet Photos: Pride Edition! This is the fourth installment of the funniest, most memorable family photo shoot opportunity ever conceived. The really wonderful part is that each photo raises money for Fetch and Releash, a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing and rehoming dogs from all over the world.

There is no physical shelter space for Fetch and Releash, instead, they have created an innovative safety network of foster homes, volunteers, and vet clinics that care for the dogs in and around the GTA. These volunteers work hard to help the dogs overcome any behavioral challenges or ailments so that they can find their forever home.

Image: Mark Binks

Get Leashed had a chance to catch up with the lovely Amanda (of Benevolent Beasts), who is a professional dog-walker AND has been the brains behind this unique fundraiser since its inception.

Image: Benevolent Beasts

This is the fourth edition of Awkward Pet Photos, congratulations! What is it about this type of fundraiser that connects with people?

I think people connect with the awkward angle –  there’s less pressure to get the “perfect” posed photo with your pet! Guests of Awkward Pet Photos really get into the spirit: arriving in weird outfits, dressing up their pets, and taking advantage of the cheesy props. Our photographer, Mark Binks, has volunteered his time since Awkward Pet Photos first started. Before we met, he had already taken many awkward holiday photos with his own dogs, so he is 100% into the concept.  If you don’t have any ideas for poses, don’t stress, Mark will direct you! He gets the funniest shots, and everyone just loves working with him.
The most common feedback we get is, “Thank you, these photos are hilarious! I’m laughing so hard going through all of these!” It’s a reminder of how much laughter and joy pets bring to our lives!
 Image: Mark Binks

 How did this concept come about?

I launched a dog walking service, Benevolent Beasts, in October, 2017, and as the holidays were approaching I wanted to put on a “pet photos with Santa” event in my neighbourhood of Little Italy. However, when I Googled Santas-for-Hire, I discovered they’re not exactly cheap!
As I continued to search images of holiday pet photos for new ideas, I came across vintage photos of people in ugly Christmas sweaters posing with pets in equally tacky outfits. Instantly, I knew I had found my event idea!

Image: Mark Binks

Can any pet come along? Can I bring my rabbit?

Yes, any pet is welcome, as long as they’re legal in Ontario. No venomous snakes, please! But we’ve had cats, a bunny (at the Easter edition), and even a ferret!

Why a Pride Edition for your fundraiser?

A Pride edition of Awkward Pet Photos means a lot to me, because I have been proudly serving the LGBT community since I started my pet business.  Also, I think a Pride-themed family portrait opportunity underscores that Toronto is filled with all types of beautiful families, and many of them are pet parents.  The Awkward Pet Photos series showcases the diversity of Toronto’s families, and I hope to continue that tradition on June 2, 2018!
Image: Mark Binks

So, let’s get into some details then…

Mark Binks – Fashion & Advertising Photog

So, this is how it works – for a donation (starting at $20), you get a private 5-minute photo session with the gorgeous and supremely talented, Mark Binks. Swoon. You are guaranteed the most hilarious and endearing family portrait to showcase over your mantel. Again, all money raised goes to Fetch and Releashed to help rehome homeless pups.

Photo of Mark Binks Toronto Fashion Photographer


Mark says “His loves include, in no particular order, dogs (all dogs ever), riding his bike, eating fish tacos, standup comedy and hip-hop.” He’s a talented man with  soulful eyes, a passion for dogs, and an easy manner that relaxes you straight away.  So, basically, you are going to loooove getting your awkward photo taken by this down-to-Earth pro.

The Indomitable Miss Fluffy Soufflé

If you’re lucky, and you time it all correctly, Miss Fluffy Soufflé will be on hand to crank up the awkward factor on your one-0f-a-kind pet photo. She is one of the leading drag superstars on the Toronto scene – hilarious, engaging, and generally inappropriate. LOVE.


 Image: David Hawe

Be there or be square, this Saturday, June 2nd at Pet Uno (675 College Street, Toronto, ON. 12 to 3pm).

Check out the event Facebook page for contact info on Amanda at Benevolent Beasts. I can’t stress this next part enough: Reserve. Your. Spot. I’m thinking of reserving a couple because, seriously, Mark Binks, guys….