The power of social media is no secret and facebook is definitely the leader of the pack. What I often see on facebook is desperate pleas for funds (which I understand completely) and graphic images of wounded or miserable dogs on deathrow. I get it. We’re all trying to do our part. But what if, instead of sad bleeding dogs, we saw dogs that were smiling, ready for their new homes? If you’ve stopped by here before I’m sure you’re already tired of this rant.
Now let’s consider facebook. If you or your rescue group or shelter has a facebook page (and they absolutely need one) you can watch the analytics and see which images travel. Try this experiment. Post a photo of a sad pathetic dog and watch the stats. THEN, post a cute photo with an uplifting or humorous quote and watch what happens. According to facebook, Teresa Berg Photography has 1750 friends –this image was shared (as of 9:26am) 394 times and has a “reach” or was seen by 4301 people. In less than 24 hours. Where else can your group get that kind of exposure? Just be careful what and how you post, encourage everyone you know to “like” your page, and post something positive along with a photo of an adoptable dog — then stand back and watch the magic.
There are any number of places you could choose to create portraits of cats and dogs for their adoption ads. There is usually more light outdoors if you can find a quiet spot without a distracting background — and if you’re photographing dark colored dogs you need all the light you can get! You should look for a bright shady spot away from other dogs, bicycles and noisey traffic–all things that are way more interesting to your subject that you are. If you want him to look at the camera (and you do) then isolate him from distractions.
Choose the background carefully (how about a hedge or a brick wall ?) and then face your subject towards the light. In other words, shoot IN TO the shade, don’t stand in the shade and have the bright sun behind your subject. Get down on his eye level (yes, this involves bending at the knees and getting on the ground. It’s worth it) and surprise him with one sharp crazy noise — he’ll look right at you — and you’ll create a photograph that will reach out and grab someone’s attention.
Looks like a great new point & shoot camera is hitting the market, the Samsung EX2F. This compact camera looks like a great choice for animal rescue photography.
Why? Two different types of image stabilization (great for maintaining sharpness in low light conditions) –fast 1.4 lens and a great zoom range. AND lots of megapixels (12.4) and good video options, too. If you’re frustrated with the results you’ve been getting from your current compact digital camera, but you’re not willing to jump in to the world of expensive and sometimes complicated DSLRs, check this one out. At $499 it’s well-priced for all the power and features.
I can’t wait to test one out!
- 12.4Mp Resolution
- 3.0″ AMOLED Display
- 1/1.7″ BSI CMOS Sensor
- 3.3x Optical Zoom, 12x Digital
- 5.2-17.2mm Zoom Lens (24-80mm)
- Full HD 1920 x 1080 Video Recording
- Dual Optical/Digital Image Stabilization
- Dual Capture: Simultaneous Photo/Video
- Smart Camera: Wi-Fi Sharing, Backup, etc
- Creative Movie Maker Software Included
Several people have written me with concerns about how to get an animal shelter interested in using volunteer photographers. Many think that improving the online photos will make little or no difference to their adoption efforts. Of course, we know differently! It’s not always easy to convince someone to try something new –especially when they’re over-worked and under-staffed. Be patient with your local shelter!
Some of our recent webinar students have waited for several months to get their “foot in the door” with the local animal shelter, but have found great success in working with independent rescue groups. We talk about how this works, how to make the approach, and how to actually set up the shots during the webinar. The webinar download is available for $40 (just click the webinar tab at the top of this page to purchase and instantly watch it!).
And for those of you who haven’t seen the CBS Sunday Morning News story, this is a really great way to convince someone at your local shelter to give it a try!