Category Archives: Shelter Photography
Ever wondered why all those dogs you see on your local shelter’s website look dirty and completely unappealing? While often times the dogs aren’t in their best condition (after all, they are in a shelter instead in your loving home!) and the shelter may not be the cleanest place on Earth, the real reason is often that the photographer simply doesn’t know the best way to snap a picture that with capture the essence of the dogs up for adoption.
Typically, the person taking pictures of shelter dogs is a volunteer at the shelter who has never had any formal photography training or experience. The camera used is usually of relatively low quality and time and resource constraints dictate that the pictures be taken as quickly as possible with little regard for quality. It may seem like a small thing, but this can have a devastating impact on the likelihood of a dog being adopted. Think about it, when there are literally millions of dogs up for adoption on the web, a shelter has mere seconds to make a great impression on potential forever homes. That impression is usually driven by the picture next to the description.
Because of this impact, shelter photography has become a hot topic in the dog rescue community. Blogs and websites are popping up to help promote the movement. Even non-profit organizations have started with the sole purpose of helping shelters take better photos of their adoptable dogs. The issue has gotten so much attention that it’s even been covered by national news outlets, such as the video below.
So what can you do to join the movement? Well, if you happen to be in the Dallas area, you can get in touch with Teresa Berg, the photographer mentioned in the video above (even if you aren’t you can check out some of her great photographs at her website!). If you are just looking for some information about how to take better shelter photos, do a quick web search on the topic and you are bound to find dozens of sites that can help. One we found was Focus on Rescue. They have some great resources and even offer webinars. If nothing else, we recommend taking a look at their Five Tips for Better Dog Photography. If you are looking for a little more, check out Seth Casteel’s website at Second Chance Photos. Seth has really put together some great content including videos and a guide from getting started to what equipment you should use. He also tours the country offering FREE workshops. However, they do fill up fast so book early or consider a webinar, such as the ones from Focus on Rescue.
If you are looking for someone to help your local shelter with the process, again, we recommend doing a quick web search to see if there is anyone in your area willing to help. On a national level, Shelter-Me Photography is a great non-profit organization dedicated to helping. They are based in Boulder, Colorado and offer to help shelters all over the country so long as funding allows. They don’t ask for any fees or charge a premium for their services, but rather ask that any dogs that are adopted after the photography include a $10 donation to help fund future endeavors.
Whatever you are searching for, there are plenty of options out there to help you take the perfect photo of that perfect dog. If you are simply someone interested in adopting a new dog, please remember that while the picture is worth a thousand words, most shelters don’t have the time or resources to make those words count. So try to have an open mind and an open heart and maybe you’ll find that perfect new best friend!