Pet Portraits 101 — Use a living room chair and a window. Everyone has those, right? Even your local shelter might be able to provide enough space to do something like this!
We’re looking forward to new projects and new ideas to share for 2015 –but until then, don’t hesitate to join us on facebook and share some of your successful adoption stories and photos. Enjoy your holidays knowing there are a lot of happy dogs sleeping in their new homes because of your hard work.
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.
Welcome to the new visitors from Yahoo! Shine — we know there are lots of pet lovers out there with cameras — so jump in and help out at your local shelter. We can help you learn to photograph adoptable pets. Just read through some of the articles and links provided here, select a reputable shelter or rescue group, practice (a lot) and you’ll be off to the races. Unlike our little model here.
Whether you are using a camera-mounted flash, a studio flash (or monolight) or a continuous light system (which we recommend) setting up an on site studio inside a shelter can make a big difference in the quality of the photos you produce. Don’t misunderstand — any type of on site photography is tricky, because you’re dealing with frantic, sometimes traumatized dogs in a noisy scary environment. Our first choice is always to photograph the dogs and cats AWAY from the noise and smells of the shelter environment….but sometimes that’s just not an option.
So for those of you trying to make better photos ON SITE , I have this list of tips:
1. Use a seamless paper background. It’s cheap, comes in every color and adds a bit of professionalism to your photos. A wrinkly blanket or sheet is a lousy substitute for the clean crisp look of a paper background. You can buy a roll of background paper from a camera supply like Adorama or B and H Photo for around $30 and it can last a very long time.
2. Get as far away from the noise of the kennel as possible. If they have an outbuilding you can use or at the very least some quiet conference room, try that first. Your subjects will be much calmer.
3. Try to time your photo shoot for AFTER the pet has had some exercise. A tired dog is much easier to photograph.
4. Use a helper. You absolutely, positively will frustrate yourself if you try to do this alone. Plus, with someone holding the dog’s leash and shuttling pets in and out of the shooting area you can work much faster and photograph many more pets in the same amount of time. Trust me. Get a volunteer or another photographer to help you.
5. Use natural light if you’re lucky enough to find space next to a big window. If not, use some sort of BIG light source (tiny camera mounted flashes should be diffused or bounced off the ceiling) and do not use flash pointed directly at the pet. Continuous Lights like the Westcott TD6 make your job much easier because they don’t “flash” at the pet –and for beginners, offer a what-you-see-is-what-you-get light source that will work with any camera without fancy flash triggering devices.
Those are my top five tips! We have covered how important it is to read dog’s body language in previous posts and videos. So practice with your own pets until you feel comfortable enough to work at the shelter — but don’t give up. All those homeless cats and dogs need you!
To keep the background simple, seamless paper is the best
The smart people at Hearts Speak are setting up photo studios and training shelter volunteers to make better adoption photos in NYC. Yay!