Service Before Self Through Art

Cape Cod Life  /  August 2021 / ,

Writer: Elizabeth Shaw

Cape-based photographer Kim Roderiques has made a name for herself through her portraits and published works. Now, she’s using a new medium to help deserving nonprofit organizations across the region. 

If you’ve spent even just a moment on Cape Cod, you’ve probably seen Kim Roderiques’ photography. Her photos are the focal point of two of the most iconic Cape Cod coffee table books, “I Am of Cape Cod and Dogs on Cape Cod.” She has worked closely with authors to create two children’s books, “Max and Charlie Help a Hero” and “Kaylee Finds a Friend,” and is now shifting her attention to filmmaking, using the power of film to highlight organizations across the Cape that are making the world a better place. 

For more than 20 years, Kim has been photographing what makes her happy—dogs, kids, families, and Cape Cod. “I think it all began with my obsession with dogs. I had a very mediocre camera with me, and I’ve always loved dogs. I was working on Main Street in Chatham at my family’s clothing store and every time a dog would walk by, I would run out to take a photo of the dog, and it grew from there,” she recounts. “And then people would start asking me to take pictures of their dog or I would volunteer to do it. My other obsession is children; there’s nothing more beautiful to me than dogs and children. I don’t have children, so it fulfilled this wonderful void. Taking the dogs photos grew into taking photos of dogs with children and I decided to do it professionally. I’m self-taught, it just made me happy, it made me forget all the stresses in my life.” After establishing herself in the world of photography, Kim began to wonder, “‘Okay, I love animals, what else can I do with my photography?’ I’ve always had rescue dogs so I thought I’d get involved with the Animal Rescue League and the MSPCA. One of my proudest awards is my Guardian Angel award given to me by the MSPCA.” Kim began working with the shelters to photograph the animals, glamour shots in the hopes of increasing their chances of getting adopted. Her work with the MSPCA, grew as she joined their committee to organize fundraising galas at which she would also offer up her camera work. 

Kim’s latest endeavor, a foray into documentary filmmaking, fulfills her lifelong desire to give back to the people in her life, as well as to others who make the world a better place. And the natural subject for her new creative outlet would of course, be dogs. At Chatham’s Orpheum Theater on September 16th, 2021, Kim will be premiering her latest project, “The Way Home,” a film celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Animal Rescue League (ARL). Kim began working with the ARL after she and her husband had what she calls a “beautiful experience” adopting their first dog from them: Gentleman Jack. “I wanted to educate people and bring the organization forward on the Cape; it is well known in Boston but not as much on the Cape,” she explains. “So, I met Doctor Edward Schettino, the president and CEO of the ARL, and told him I really want to do something to make people aware of the organization and I could do it via documentary if I could get a grant.” Kim worked closely with Theresa Richards of Rockland Trust to secure a grant, and once it was approved, Kim tapped Geoff Basset, cinematographer and manager of the Chatham Orpheum, to bring her vision to life. Kim credits her “Yin and Yang” relationship with Geoff for the success of their projects. “I’m so type A, and explosive with my enthusiasm, and he’s very measured and very thoughtful; it’s just a perfect partnership.” The film focuses on the ARL and the relationships that have grown from the organization’s work, both between humans and animals as well as between animals. “We set out to make people aware of not just the dogs and cats, but all types of animals adopted through the ARL,” she says.

The second film she’s premiering is at the Cotuit Center for the Arts on September 10th is “Rise Above,” a documentary about Sarah Swain, the Cape Wellness Collaborative, and the amazing work being done to help those fighting cancer through integrative therapies. “I met Sarah Swain and her goat, Bobbysocks, when I was working on a book for the MSPCA,” says Kim. “The second after I met her, I looked her up and learned about the Cape Wellness Collaborative and I knew I had to do something with her. She had lost her mom to ovarian cancer, and she decided from then on she was going to help others fighting cancer with integrative therapies that insurances don’t cover.” Such therapies include acupuncture, chiropractic and nutrition. The Wellness Collaborative works closely with Cape Cod Healthcare to support and care for cancer patients, as well their caretakers. “It was a no-brainer to decide to focus on this group,” Kim enthuses. “I’ve always been a proponent of service before self, and I wanted to bring attention to the work she was doing. I went to Geoff and said I need to get a grant for this project. I then sat down with Bruce Biehrans, the chairman of the board at the Collaborative, and Sarah and Geoff and talked about what we envisioned. They were on board and ecstatic.” The film gives a voice to those who have worked with the Cape Wellness Collaborative, most importantly those who are currently fighting cancer and those who are on the other side of the fight. Both “Rise Above” and “The Way Home” will be accompanied by published pieces featuring Roderiques’ photography, a book for “The Way Home” and a “glorified magazine for now” as Kim describes it for “Rise Above”.

Like everything in her life, Kim’s pivot to filmmaking was born out of a love for dogs. After following the Instagram account @dancersanddogs—which captures stunning images of, you guessed it, dancers with dogs—Kim was inspired to start her own project. She found the Chatham-based organization A Chance to Dance, run by Studio 878 President and owner Adam Spencer, which helps children of all ages train and compete in dance competitions regardless of financial constraints. Kim photographed the dancers and their pets for a coffee table book, while Geoff Basset captured the behind-the-scenes magic, interviewing the children and parents involved in the program. The film and books were titled “Pirouettes, Pliés and Pets” and premiered at the Chatham Orpheum in the spring of 2020; the event raised $40,000 for the Monomoy Community Services, the MSPCA and A Chance to Dance. And from there, Kim realized the combined power of photo and video. “After that event, I turned to Geoff and I said, ‘This is the start of something spectacular,’” she recalls. And she was right. “It’s like a domino effect; while working on one project, I learn about other nonprofits and then want to help them, which then leads me to more organizations. That’s why I will forever be doing these documentaries. It’s a wonderful, entertaining way to let people know what’s out there.”

But this isn’t the first time Kim’s work has helped to raise awareness, and funds. In 2017, Kim worked with K.M Ginter to create the children’s book “Max and Charlie Help a Hero: Never Too Young to Give Back”, which follows Charlie and his dog Max as they spend a summer on the Cape and Nantucket, where they become inspired to raise money to help a veteran get a service dog. The book is based on the real-life story of Luke Stringer, who raised $30,000 for a local veteran and who went on to receive the Red Cross Youth Hero award. At the ceremony, Kim was slated to present Luke his award, where she met Luke’s grandfather Captain David Roache, a Vietnam War veteran, and knew what she needed to do. Upon seeing the pride in Captain Roche’s eyes, Kim invited him up to place the medal around his grandson’s shoulders. That simple gesture captures the essence of Kim, and her work. And the world is a brighter place thanks to the images and messages Kim Roderiques has dedicated her life to sharing with the rest of the world.

Elizabeth Shaw is the senior editor and digital editor at Cape Cod Life Publications. 

Don’t miss “The Way Home” and “Rise Above”, both premiering this September. You can follow Kim on Instagram, @dogs_on_cape_cod, visit her website, kimroderiques.com.

Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth Shaw is a former assistant editor, photographer & videographer for Cape Cod Life Publications. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Elizabeth spent many summers on the Cape, before she and her family moved down full time in 2016. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island as a double major in Writing & Rhetoric and Film Media, and started at Cape Cod Life the following fall. In her free time, she takes as many pictures of her dog, Watson, as possible, in between beach trips.