Thomas opens dog photography studio in Railyard
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – Local photographer Audrey Thomas believes every dog has a story to tell.
The 26-year-old Green Bay native has made it her life’s work to capture those stories through the lens of her camera, one four-legged friend at a time.
“A couple of weeks ago, my mom asked when dog photography became my dream job,” Thomas said. “And it kind of made me think. It really never was, because any time I entertained a thought, I would think, ‘Well, that is way too cool of a job to be real for that to be my thing.’”
Audrey Thomas Photography, located at 520 N Broadway St. Suite 205 in the Railyard, is one of the area’s only exclusive dog photography studios.
Thomas grew up loving dogs, is mom to a tripod Great Dane named Zora and considers herself a crazy dog lady.
“The love of a dog is so unique and special,” she said. “While the love they offer is equal across the board, each dog’s personality and quirks are so unique, and I love the challenge of cracking the code to each pup when they’re in front of the camera.”
Thomas’ love for furry friends is equal to her passion for photography.
“It’s funny to try and think of when I started photography,” she said. “The lines are a little blurry there. My parents heavily documented our family as my brothers and I grew up, so cameras and boxes of 4x6s were everywhere. And I was obsessed with our trips to get our film developed. In fifth grade, we got my dad his first digital camera, but I basically stole it the next day. I’m not sure he ever took a single photo on it.”
And her passion grew from there.
“I got my first DSLR in high school and took photos of whatever I could,” she said. “Eventually, a friend asked me to photograph her family, and I realized it was something I wanted to do all the time.”
Thomas graduated from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College with an associate’s degree in digital photography and started her career as a wedding photographer shortly after.
“I sort of got into weddings accidentally, but quickly fell in love with the way I got to connect with those clients on a deeper level,” she said. “You typically spend two to three years with each wedding couple as you work together from engagement to the wedding day, and I’ve been so blessed to continue those relationships and document my couples as they hit major life milestones like new homes and starting families.”
Along with shooting weddings, Thomas spent time photographing dogs at Lucky 7 Dog Rescue, which her best friend, Maddy Szymanski, opened in 2015.
“I completely fell in love with the process, challenges and rewards of dog photography,” Thomas said.
She also serves on the Lucky 7 board of directors and has taken several trips to pick up adoptable dogs from other states and bring them to area shelters.
She said it was her combined love for dogs and her passion for photography that eventually led to her change of focus.
“The factors that led to my business’ transition were ultimately me landing a great studio space in the Railyard, wanting a little more of a routine schedule that freed up my weekends and of course the COVID-19 (pandemic) was a huge stressor on the events industry in 2020 and definitely had me thinking a little harder about making long-term decisions for my business,” she said. “As time went on, all I could really think about was the pups, and here we are.”
Thomas said the Railyard was the perfect landing spot for her changing business.
“I also live in a condo in the Railyard,” she said. “I love spending so much time here, watching and being a part of the growth of downtown Green Bay alongside so many other incredible businesses and organizations. It’s a wonderful, dynamic community.”
The building also holds a special place in Thomas’ heart.
“When I first toured this building, I was attracted to the preserved history and natural light,” she said. “My grandma actually worked in this same building in the 1940s, washing peas on the production line for Larsen Canning.”
Thomas held an official ribbon-cutting ceremony July 29 surrounded by friends, family, clients and elected city officials.
“The Railyard is kind of the place to be,” Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich said. “There is just a lot of energy in this corner of the city. And it’s because of people like Audrey … Thanks to you for being here, for believing in Green Bay and believing in On Broadway and the Railyard and investing with us in this corner of town.”
Thomas said her hopes for the future are simple.
“I just want to help as many people celebrate their dogs as I can,” she said. “There is no better feeling than an owner tearing up and saying ‘You really captured their essence,’ when they see their dog’s photos for the first time. That’s how I know I did my job, and those photos will truly be cherished and looked back on forever.”
Thomas said she thinks people get professional photos for their dogs for many reasons.
“Our dogs age so quickly, and it’s such a special thing to have high-quality images of them throughout the seasons of their lives,” she said. “Most of us are capturing our dogs via cell phones day-to-day, and that’s great for catching them at home in their element doing all the sweet and silly things they do. But when you’re in the studio, you’re really taking the time with lighting, posing and special attention to all of their best features to capture something truly beautiful and timeless.”
Thomas said she takes pride in being able to provide her service to dog owners.
“When I photograph my own dog in this way, I notice things about her and appreciate her beauty in ways that a cell phone photo just can’t communicate,” she said. “I want every dog owner to have that.”
For more information on Audrey Thomas Photography or to book an appointment, CLICK HERE.