Interview with Lakewood Photographer Greg Murray

Ava Hitter, Entertainment Reporter

Lakewood photographer, animal-lover, and author of Peanut Butter Dogs and Pitbull Heroes, Greg Murray, spoke with The Lakewood Times to discuss his path into a photography career and business, his love for animals, his newest books, and his experiences in Lakewood as a whole.

In regards to his closeness with animals and his decision to leave his corporate job and pursue a field in animal photography, he says “I loved art since a very young age. As a child growing up in Lakewood, my mother would often sign me up for various art programs in the summer. She was a cake artist and I loved watching her work. I also grew up with all types of animals in our home: Dogs, cats, lizards, birds, fish, guinea pigs, rats, snakes and more. I loved all animals. After graduating with a business degree from Loyola Chicago and spending 10 years in various office jobs, I knew it was time to combine my love for animals and art. Lakewood has been amazing to me. The residents and institutions, like the Lakewood Public Library, love to support their own. I’m so glad I moved back here in 2014 and am excited that our children will grow up attending Lakewood schools.”

Murray has always had a special love for animals, especially the underdogs. This affinity led him to his involvement in ending the 10-year Lakewood pitbull ban with the “I’m with Charlie” campaign. In regards to his position within the protest, he says “When Charlie was taken in by Animal Control and deemed dangerous based solely on the way he looks, his owner, Jennifer, reached out to me for help. She contacted me because I was already involved with other residents in trying to get rid of the ban. For the next 10 months, I could often be found organizing protests, filing public records requests, communicating with Charlie and Jennifer’s lawyer, keeping local news outlets apprised of updates, reminding residents to attend council meetings, making pro Charlie/anti discrimination Facebook videos, meeting with city leaders to discuss strengthening our dog ordinances, and delivering ‘I’m With Charlie’ yard signs. To be clear, our success in ending the ban was not due to a couple of people. We succeeded because hundreds of people protested, filled the council meetings and voted in the 2017 council election.”

Murray’s love for photography and animals has led him to a successful career in animal photography, culminating in the release of three books, Peanut Butter Dogs, Pitbull Heroes, and Peanut Butter Puppies. When speaking to The Lakewood Times about his path into writing them, and what the experience was like, he saysPit Bull Heroes was inspired by our fight to end the pit bull ban in Lakewood. I traveled the country in 2018 and photographed 49 special pit bull type dogs. It was an amazing experience. I was able to meet so many wonderful and special dogs and their humans. The peanut butter books were fun series I made to make people smile and laugh around the world. They feature dogs of all types enjoying peanut butter.  The three books combined have sold over 25,000 copies around the world.”

Murray’s path into animal photography is an inspiration to anyone who desires to follow their own dreams in life and be successful in their careers, and a wonderful representation of the power the Lakewood community in creating change in the city.