Sometimes it really does pay to find a local photographer (often a volunteer like a student) to take better photos of pets up for adoption. Dogs say that are scared and miserable may play into stereotypes of looking unfriendly and feared. But a good photographer can capture the essence of the animal, leading to better adoption rates. Sophie Gamand has found that one good photo can sometimes lead to a quick happy adoption, for shelter animals waiting years. Read tips to be a greener photographer.
Sophie has tons of great tips on her website to help other photographers have the same success as her, for all kinds of creatures. From focusing on cute behaviours (like shaking paws) to always ensuring trusted handlers are nearby (and getting permission before working with toys, as some dogs may be scared of them), this is a wonderful resource.
She says to remember that many dogs are going to be worried when finding someone taking photos of them, either because they’ve been abused or they may be getting excited that you’re about to take them home. So be gentle but persuasive, and ask about habits and traits.
Also be sure to get the lighting and background right. An animal shelter filled with kind volunteers may have a dark dingy background, which is not good to show animals in their best light (black fur needs more light). See her site for examples of making them look fun, which is what they want!
Inject some fun into the process! One of Sophie’s most successful photographs was of a blind senior lab, who kept facing the wrong way for the photo she seemed keen to take. So rather than get frustrated, she worked this into the photo, and it went viral and almost broke the internet. Needless to say, this old lady found her loving forever home pretty quickly.