One of the organizations I volunteer with is Operation Kindness the oldest and largest no-kill shelter here in north Texas. They ended up (on the same day) with one orphaned chihuahua puppy and one orphaned kitten about the same age. So they paired them up to see if they could comfort each other and the rest was just magic. Their videos have over 4 million views on Youtube and the have their own facebook page. And I had a photo session with them, too!
My point is that this type of social media attention can really help bring in donations and positive attention for a foster care program at YOUR local shelter. Operation Kindness uses foster families to care for puppies and kittens that are too young to safely live at their facility. In fact, we foster kittens for them here at the studio (more about that later). Look for these stories in your own communities, photograph them, video them and share them with your local news agencies. Chip and Adele have been on NBC, Good Morning America Online, Buzzfeed, ET Online, and this weekend, The Dallas Morning News. Every one of these media outlets is looking for a positive feel-good story with good photographs. It’s easier than you think to get their attention. So take it from Chip and Adele — a little good news is a wonderful thing.
We love color and the way it JUMPS off the screen — especially when potential adopters are searching a long list of adoptable dogs — we like the way the color reaches out and says “PICK ME.” So this week we’ve been working with a couple of favorites – the savage seamless paper and the blue and yellow you see below. If you go to www.adorama.com or www.bandhphotovideo.com and you will see a dazzling array of different colors (just type BACKGROUND PAPER in the search box). This narrow width is very portable and perfect for one dog — and affordable! Less than $30 per roll — and one roll will last a very long time, since the only wear and tear is where the dog or cat actually stands. No more wrinkly tablecloth backgrounds!
In this case, we just cut off a piece and taped it to the wall at the top and the floor at the bottom so we didn’t even need a background stand to hold the roll of paper. This works great if you’re working in a space where you don’t have much room or if you’re like me and hate to use more gear than you really need. We set up two colors side by side on a day when we’re expecting a lot of rescue dogs, that way we have a quick and easy choice and the chance to put a little variety on their website. I will say that almost every dog we photograph looks good on this dark blue, so if you’re only going to try one, try BLUE!
If it’s one thing we always find at animal shelters and around our neighborhoods, it’s concrete. Instead of passing it over for the grass or dirt — make it work to your advantage. Concrete makes a great natural reflector! Putting a black dog on a sidewalk or driveway can make a huge difference in your final shot. And it’s one reflector they are sure not to be afraid of! If you can find a spot of color in the background (like the row of pine trees in the photo below) you’ve got a little bit of magic. What you don’t see is that there was a parking lot behind the pine trees –which we neutralized by throwing the background out of focus (this was shot at f2.0 with an 85mm lens) and laying flat on the ground to shoot slightly “up” at the puppy. So take your fastest lens with you and use the concrete to have some fun!
We still have three spots left for our Portfolio Shooting Day in Minneapolis in August. Leave a comment on this blog if you’d like more information.