rescue dogs

Using Holiday props for adoption photos: Do they help?


Any sort of attention getting device can help get a dog adopted. There are statistics showing that bandanas are the number one prop most photographers should consider when doing an adoption photo. Why?  Because the dogs look FRIENDLY.  They look playful  and not scary. Imagine you’re a mom or dad wanting to get a small child their first pet — do you choose the dog slumped in the corner looking at the floor?

pit bull puppies poster

order this poster and use it as a gentle reminder to all your friends to ADOPT not SHOP

Those of us who love dogs know that great dogs sometimes just don’t do well in a shelter, or even in a boarding facility. The withdraw and look sad (to us) and scary (to someone less familiar with shelter pets).

But what about holiday props?  I, personally, have never liked pet portraits with lots of decorations. My style as always been the clean neutral backgrounds with just a pop of color or even (gasp) JUIST THE DOG.  But this time of year it’s tempting to use a holiday related prop to grab attention for that pet.   And I think that’s fine, as long as you also photograph the pet without any props so the rescue group can swap out the photos if the holidays come and go and the dog is passed over for adoption.   Nothing looks sadder than a holiday adoption photo in February or March… it just calls attention to the fact that the dog has been there ALL that time. Many people will assume there is something wrong with him.

teresa berg: do not copy

Even a big blue dumpster will work as a backdrop!

Does your rescue group have an image problem?


Every group these days needs an online presence. If you are running a rescue group or even if you’re just an active volunteer with a group, sooner or later you will need to pay serious attention to the group “image.”  I’m not just referring to pretty photos (although photography is very close to the top of the list). I’m talking about website, blogs, adoption listings, logos, signs, and finally your ambassadors.

I know — you’re saving dogs– not working on an English degree, but you must communicate clearly and effectively with the world around you if you want donations, helpers, and credibility. Rescue groups are constantly interacting with city government, animal rights organizations, and community business leaders in order to save dogs. If you’re asking for donations for an event, or money to buy dog food, you need to make a good impression.

Many people don't know how many shelters have a constant supply of puppies. Don't shop, adopt!

Many people don’t know how many shelters have a constant supply of puppies. Don’t shop, adopt!

So if you’re not comfortable speaking to strangers, making eye contact and writing an informative email message, find someone who is and designate them an ambassador for your group.

Your group’s website needs to be up-to-date and error free. Keep the photographs fresh and interesting. Update the calendar of events. Nothing spells neglect faster than a website where nothing has changed in two years…

And finally, make sure your message is a positive one. No matter how angry you are at the local shelter for doing something wrong,  don’t make people feel bad just because they stopped by your website.  Very few people want to support someone who is constantly ranting and complaining. They want to help the one with a better idea!