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!
A very successful adoption day was held on Saturday here in north Texas. Over 2200 animals were adopted in one day. Why not try it in YOUR area? Yes, adoption fees were waived, and so the shelters didn’t get their customary fees to help defray the cost of rehabilitating adoptable animals — but look at the positive interest in generated in the community! Thanks to good local news media coverage and lots of social media by the individual shelters, it seemed like everyone in the Dallas area was at one shelter or another on Saturday. Congratulations to all these hard working people.
Your local shelter or rescue group will tell you — spring brings litter after litter of unwanted puppies and kittens to their doorstep. So now is the perfect time to plan an all day adoption photo event. Plan a few weeks ahead and notify several of your favorite animal rescue groups that you will be at a certain location all day to photograph their adoptable puppies and kittens. NOTHING is cuter than a puppy or kitten but after a certain age they enter their awkward in-between stage and they’re much harder to adopt. So plan to photograph puppies around 7 weeks and kittens at 5-6 weeks — and take advantage of the great spring weather (at least here in Dallas it’s spring!) and set up a great outdoor set with some flowers and some shade. Make sure puppies have had their shots as there are certain soil borne pests you don’t want to expose them to. Can’t visualize an outdoor studio? Scroll down and read one of our previous posts about shooting outdoors at the shelter.
Or if you prefer to shoot indoors, use some light spring like colors for your backgrounds. Your photos will JUMP off the screen compared to all the other bland out-of-focus shots on Petfinder or facebook. Getting these pets adopted is all about how to make them stand out in the crowd, so don’t copy what someone else is doing, come up with something different. And make it memorable! How cute would it be to photograph puppies in a little red wagon on the sidewalk (maybe even in front of a picket fence)? Or at the playground on the merry-go-round, or in a dolly buggy. The great thing about puppies and kittens is that they like to huddle together — so find something fun to put them in and start making some great photos.
learning to photograph pets in the studio is not as hard as you think.
Remember to stay in the shade, get down on the pet’s eye level (very important) and keep the background simple and clutter free. You can do this!
Does the shelter or rescue organization that you work with have a surplus of older dogs? Black dogs? Kittens? Chihuahuas? Chances are that you see some trends and it’s smart to try and anticipate what kind of “marketing” you’ll need for whatever that surplus seems to be. I tend to bounce from one specialty group to the next, like most people, putting out fires. Right now it seems to be the senior dogs that are getting overlooked. Maybe because it’s “puppy season.” Well, to me that’s just a shame because older dogs make great pets for many families. So when I photographed this older guy, Rex, recently for Operation Kindness we decided to build a campaign around the idea that older dogs are not all used up! So we photographed Rex leaping for a tennis ball –one of his favorite activities. We don’t want to mislead anyone — so if he really wasn’t a tennis ball lover we would have found some other way to highlight his good qualities — but you get the idea. Figure out what makes that certain group that you want to “market” special and then make a few cute photos to illustrate those points and let them fly on social media. Print a poster for the lobby (if you’re working with a shelter that has an adoption center), ask if you can put up a poster at the local bank or market. There are dog lovers everywhere so don’t be shy!
a few clever words can make your message travel
We still have some openings for our DOG SHOTS class held at Teresa Berg Photography on Saturday, May 31st — so if you’re a beginner and still having issues with your camera or you just want to learn it the right way — call the studio at 972-250-2415 and we’ll answer any questions you might have about the workshop. It’s a full day of learning for beginners with Teresa and some very handsome live dog models.
Wish me luck. Tomorrow a group of photographers is leaving Dallas and heading to a boarding facility called Camp Diggy Bones in Lavon, Texas. They’ve been in the animal rescue news lately because a now-defunct animal rescue organization called Happy Endings out of Waco, Texas abandoned 249 dog there. Yes. 249. They were being boarded there at a reduced fee when the rescue group went belly up and now they’re in limbo.
Please re-read some of my many posts about working with a responsible rescue organization! Lots of crazy things happen when well-intentioned people get in over their heads. Don’t get pulled down with them.
Because Camp Diggy Bones is out in the country and is NOT an adoption center, these dogs have little or no chance to get adopted without good adoption photos. They are the toughest group to find homes for — big dogs (many of them black) that look like pit bulls.
So we got some local pet photographers together and some Unleashed workshop graduates and we’re spending the day photographing these dogs. Our goal is to create portraits showing happy playful loving dogs who don’t look like every other dog on Petfinder.com or Adoptapet.com. The nice people at Paws in the City will list them and process the landslide of applications our photos will help create.
I am working on a portable outdoor set that I plan to take out there with me. Check back in a few days and we’ll post some of the results.
getting ready — our little outdoor studio
Need to post a gentle reminder this holiday season? Order our
order this poster and use it as a gentle reminder to all your friends to ADOPT not SHOP
puppy poster and share the love… available HERE
in the etsy store
I just finished shooting our 2014 Tiny Dog Calendar. This is our 5th tiny calendar and every year, I enjoy it more. For those of you who haven’t seen them, it’s the format that is tiny, not the dogs. We have it printed at a local printing company with an Indigo digital press and it’s sized to fit in a CD case. The case flips open and creates a stand for the calendar pages which you select each month.
Each year I self-publish this calendar and give the proceeds to a local charity (usually an animal rescue organization) This year we put a new twist on it by allowing people to vote online for their favorite dog photo at a cost of $1 per vote –with all the voting dollars going to the local Humane Society. We sold 2749 votes and created a lot interest for the calendar — which we have now sent to the printer. For those of you planning a similar project, here are a few key points to remember:
1) The time to sell calendars is in the fall. Shoot when you want to, but if you can’t have them ready by October 1st, you will miss the majority of your sales. They are big for the holidays but after January 15th, retailers practically give them away.
2) Pet owners LOVE having a calendar model in the family — they will buy lots of copies to give as gifts and even pay for the privilege of being published in your calendar.
3) They are a great way to publicize your cause, your group and your photographic skill. And they are a TON of work.
4) There is risk. The best profits come from the larger orders — so shop around. Most printing companies will work with you but the cost for a small order is very high. Once you get over a 250, the price drops significantly and you can start to make a profit, but someone has to pay the upfront costs and most charities don’t want to risk their hard-earned funds. So you may be pulling the money out of your pocket to get the job done!
As soon as the calendars arrive, we’ll have them available on this blog, my website and at the studio — I hope you’ll purchase one and use the inspiration to publish a calendar for your favorite animal rescue charity!
Thank you, Labradors.com for donating a lot of time and effort to support Lab Rescue groups around the country! And thanks for the recent article you can read here: http://www.labradors.com/resources/204/teresa-berg-saving-lives-with-the-magic-of-photography
Every time we get a new article published, more people find out how much improving their photography will improve their adoption rates!
This time of year many non-profits are evaluating what worked (and what didn’t) for fundraising as they plan the new year’s budgets and programs. I thought I’d share a few things that work for the rescues that I work with.
Every year I photograph 13 dogs for the Dallas Fort Worth Dachshund Rescue Foundation for their annual calendar “Picture A New Life.” These calendars are sold online and at their events and they are big glossy 12×18″ artsy wall calendars. The group chooses the dogs that will be photographed –all dachshunds that have been adopted through their program — and it’s a great way to show off the quality of the animals they save. 2013 is our 6th and we sell out every year! If you’d like to order one, all of the proceeds go to the doxies and they’re available here.
In addition to donating to their silent auction every year, I try to also donate to the Collin County Humane Society in some other way. This year, we are going to have a food drive at the studio. Everyone that brings a 10# bag of dog food gets a coupon for a free 8×10 print valued at $50. We’re hoping to fill up a truck!
Profits from The Tiny Dog Calendar benefit Dallas area animal rescue charities
I also personally publish a desktop calendar that I think is adorable. We call it The Tiny Dog Calendar — and it sits up on a desk or table in a plastic stand which is also the CD case that it arrives in. Easy to stuff in a Christmas stocking and easy to mail. Every year I choose some of my favorite shots and sell them in the studio and online. After printing costs, profits are donated to a local animal charity like Paws In the City and we also sell these at local dog-related events.