Shelter photography – animal shelter photography – is important and under utilized. Good photographs of shelter animals, usually cats and dogs, is good marketing. Good marketing results in higher adoption rates.
In the video below you will see pet photographer Teresa Berg, who lives in Dallas make a 100% difference in animal adoptions for the shelter she works with pro bono (for free). Yes, that is right, adoptions rose 100% (doubled) due to marketing the dogs more professionally through good animal photography.
Cages are not good backgrounds for cat or dog photography. This creates the wrong ambiance, obviously. Andrea takes them out of their cages and creates a simple but pleasant background. She also adds necklaces or bows to the dogs. I would normally be a little skeptical about this but it dresses up the dog and sells the dog to a new caretaker, which is what it is all about – getting animals out of the shelter and into new homes. This beats euthanasia.
The second example of shelter photography is equally impressive. The photographer is Nanette Martin and she had her own website (THIS LINK IS BROKEN 1-2014). Nanette clearly cares deeply for animals.
This is the YouTube link: http://youtu.be/DUORkJ08PYY
She would freely admit, I am sure, that shelter photography does not have to be aesthetically pleasing to a high degree. It just needs to be pleasing. A clean, well exposed, well lit, well focused picture of the cat or dog in a nice posture and against a decent background will usually be an big improvement on what is normally available to potential adopters.
Andrea goes a step further and photographs in a studio setting – probably a mobile set up. Elisa my contributor at PoC did this for a while. Update: I have noticed that Nanette uses a studio setting as well when convenient.
Andrea makes a good proposal. If photographers allocated a bit if their time to shelter photography on a pro bono basis it would save tens of thousands of lives throughout the country.
Let’s hope more take up this offer. Anyone involved with shelter photography is free to publicize their work here.
This is an earlier post I wrote on the subject: Good cat photography can save lives.