Social media is what moves public opinion and grabs attention these days. And it’s done a lot for Animal Rescue. Those of you who have been around for a while will remember the days of only getting dogs adopted by going to adoption events. WHAT?
Then we had Petfinder.com and everything started moving faster. Add Facebook and Instagram. Now many groups focus on social media and rarely do adoption events! I personally think it’s less wear and tear on the volunteers, but I guess we need every possible advantage in marketing these pets. Here’s a great article from BuzzFeed about how one shelter has set up a photography program to help adoptions.
And here’s a great story about a little boy who is making videos and getting dogs adopted using videos he makes himself and posts to http://www.YouTube.
Isn’t it great when technology really works?
Our 2017 Tiny Dog calendars are available this week –and until they’re sold out — at our Etsy shop here. But even better than that, these beautiful dogs will become a traveling exhibit of framed art to inspire people to adopt! We’ve taken 14 of the rescue dogs from the calendar model group and added their “rescue stories” in text on the photograph and then framed them for display. Stay tuned for photos of the exhibit. Maybe something that will work in your area?
We all know that black dogs are hard to find homes for — mostly because it’s hard to get good photographs. We want to show their happy, playful sides but many times all we get are the dark blurry blobs with glowing red or green eyes. No wonder we can’t find them homes!
Here’s an example of a black lab mix that we photographed a couple of years ago. We know that black dogs need more light. If you’re using a reflector (and I strongly suggest that you do!) be sure you are using the SILVER side, not the white side. And try putting the reflector directly between you and the dog. So you’re bouncing light right in to the dogs face. Don’t blind them with reflected sun, do this in the shade on a bright day. Another trick is to put them on a reflective surface like a light gray concrete sidewalk, like Annie is on. Or if you’re indoors, a light colored floor.
Now TURN OFF the flash. If you’re using your manual settings (and you should!) raise the ISO until you can use a fast shutter speed. I often sit on the ground and sit behind the reflector. I use a flexible round silver reflector about 40″ wide, like this one. And I rest my hands with the camera on the top, (obviously) pointed at the dog.
If the dog is nervous because of the big silver disc in front of him, give him lots of treats and try not to move it around too much. I’ve even laid it on the ground and let them eat treats right off the reflector, so they know not to be afraid of it. Wait until your dog is in position, take a test shot so you know the light is just right, then make a crazy noise to get his attention and SNAP! you’ve got a winner. Remember, FRIENDLY is the key word. Incorporate a toy, a bright colored bandana, or pretty collar to make her look like a member of the family.
Need more help with your photography? We’ve got classes coming up! Saturday, March 12 at our studio in Dallas we have our DOG SHOTS class. One day only with live models and lots of hands on shooting. We’ll walk you through how and why to use the manual settings on your DSLR and even help you with dog body language and composition. We’ll be shooting outdoors and indoors using natural light. The class is $395 and includes your lunch. Call the studio if you’d like to sign up – 972-250-2415.
I apologize –our live Periscope broadcast (which was scheduled for yesterday) had to be re-scheduled. Stay tuned for a date next week. While you’re waiting, sign up for Periscope and get familiar with how it works (you’ll need to have a twitter account first). It’s really simple and fun.
Some love just for our blog readers
Have you tried it? Periscope is a new social media platform (owned by Twitter) that allows you to watch a live, streaming video on your smart phone or tablet — and interact with the person broadcasting the video by typing questions that he or she can answer.
When I saw my first Periscope video I thought — what a great way to show people how we photograph adoptable dogs! So here’s fair warning: If you want to be part of our FIRST Periscope broadcast and watch me photographing rescue dogs in my studio, all you have to do is download the Periscope app and get familiar with it! It’s all F R E E. And with a little practice, you can ask me a question during the broadcast.
Everything you need to know is in this Wiki: http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Periscope
We’ll be broadcasting live on October 20th (start time to be announced, but it will be in the afternoon, Central Daylight Time) here at Teresa Berg Photography with some dogs, some treats, some crazy squeeky toys and, hopefully, YOU!
OOPS, I almost forgot — our ‘name’ on Periscope is TBERGPHOTO See you there soon!
Dallas isn’t exactly known for it’s lush gardens — but we do have BLUEBONNETS. It’s our state flower and Texans are just crazy about them. We decided this year, since we were setting up for client sessions in the bluebonnets that we would invite a few of our rescue groups to bring their puppies to our location for some bright spring photos. They are popular on facebook (any photo that travels helps get dogs adopted!) and look great on websites. Try it in your area. Use a landmark, some local color or famous spot to show off adoptable dogs –and see what happens!
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.
If you’re reading this blog you’re probably interested in pet photography and saving homeless animals — and about a billion of us are also on facebook — so why not use every possible resource to speed up adoption? My friend, Erin Hannigan, is not a photographer –she’s a world-class oboist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra but she is always looking for ways to get dogs adopted.
A couple of years ago she started posting photos of her foster dogs on facebook and because she had a following of music lovers, she tapped in to a whole new market for adoptions. Most of us have lots of dog lovers as our facebook friends so we see endless (BAD) photos of dogs on the euthanasia list at the local shelter or see photos our friends post. But Erin started doing quick little cell phone videos and cell phone photos of her fosters and TELLING THEIR STORY. People LOVE stories! Now people tune in on a daily basis just to see what the latest foster is up to over at Erin’s place. And it’s working! She has so much web traffic that her fosters almost always get adopted before it’s time to place them in the shelter (she fosters Moms with their pups). Music fans (and her personal friends) all over the country have shared the adventures and adopted Erin’s puppies. It’s a true success story. Here’s Erin with one of her foster pups.
So how can you use social media to help homeless pets? Maybe a blog? Or a facebook page talking about your adventures in pet photography? Or make some cute little videos with your cell phone and post them on YouTube! You don’t have to have professional photos. But make them clear and uncluttered. Play the cute card. This is just one creative way to help dogs get adopted. She’s now set up a facebook page just for her foster dog stories — so check it out and click LIKE so you’ll get the latest updates!
For those of you that love cats, like I do, take a minute to read Louie’s story. Just an ordinary rescue cat, adopted by a dog trainer, my friend Robin at Good Dog Fetch. Louie was only one cat but he made a remarkable contribution to his community. One helluva great guy. Click to read his story: Louie the Great.
The 2015 Tiny Dog Calendar voting contest began late last week. To give you a brief re-cap on how it works: I put out a “model call” on facebook and via email. Friends tell friends and before you know it, I have TONS of people sending me snapshots of their dogs, hoping I will like what I see and offer them a free modeling session. I choose the dogs that I think will send the right message (and look cute of course) and we photograph approximately 20 dogs over the course of a few weeks. These dogs then compete for votes (votes are $1 each) and all the money from voting goes to the Legacy Humane Society — one of my favorite local animal charities. The 13 dogs with the most votes get in the calendar. The TOP DOG also gets a $350 gift certificate to my studio. So competition is fierce! We will be selling the calendars online starting in October — but if you’d like to see the contestants and place a vote or two, please visit the Teresa Berg Photography blog and click on 2015 Tiny Dog Calendar.
And don’t forget — calendars make great gifts!