Month: June 2014

Kittens everywhere! Creating more adoptions with better adoption photos

This time of year our local shelters are overrun with beautiful kittens! The challenge becomes how to photograph them quickly and easily to get them noticed. I recently spent the day at a local shelter photographing kittens on site. We brought one studio light with us ( a Westcott TD5 with a shoot-through umbrella softbox) and a reflector. This type of lighting is one of my favorites to use with shelter animals because it doesn’t flash. It’s a constant, bright daylight-balanced light source that is very soft and easy to use. It also doesn’t get hot, which is a plus. For the background I used a wide roll of paper that I bought at a teacher’s supply web site. It’s thin like wrapping paper, but designed for teachers to use as a background for their bulletin boards in the classroom. So it’s wider than wrapping paper — in this case, 42″ wide — which is the same width as the folding table I used.

teresa berg adoption photos

pet photography in the shelter can be challenging

With my wonderful assistant and a volunteer from the shelter that would pull kittens from their cages and walk them to our photo “corner” we were able to photograph over 40 cats in one day. We were set up in separate room that was usually used for adopters to fill out their paperwork, but the shelter was closed that day.


It’s always a plus to find a quiet space to work, as cats are wary and easily spooked. Kittens are easily distracted with a string or a toy, so my assistant used toys, feathers and treats to keep them happy while we quickly photographed them. I would advise shooting at 2.8 to make it a little easier to get the eyes in focus, and use paper without a strong horizontal pattern, as that always distracts the eye when it’s not “level”. Other than that, I was happy with our project. Kittens are a lot of fun and using a table enabled us to work standing (I sat in a rolling chair when I was shooting) instead of sitting on the floor which is a big plus. A ribbon or some jewelry gives them that little pop of color and they don’t seem to mind. Good luck with kittens!