Blog

Subscribe

Get the ASPCA Professional Blog direct to your inbox.

Recent Comments

I've been involved in rescue since 1989.  We started C.A.R.E. in 1992, our no-kill Sanctuary in 1998 and...

These are great tips.  Don't forget to bring lots of colorful bandanas, cute little shirts, collars to...

By Cathy Armato on Plan Ahead: Prepping Animals for Mega Adoptions - 7/31/2014 at 10:27am

I rescued my boy from AWL(in Australia) I'm a dog trainer. Each year, I like to send them a letter &...

Slammin’ Shelter Photos: Getting The Shot

You know it when you see it—a photograph that captures the essence of an animal, an image that gets right to the heart of the work you do at your agency. But how do you get that shot? We grabbed some of the finalists from the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge Photo Contest and asked the ASPCA’s expert photogs, Brenna Jennings and Meg Allison, to share their thoughts and advice.

Macie
Photograph by Jessica Kovalcik for Portsmouth Humane Society

Why it rocks: What a wonderful example of the kind of image that shows a cat in her best light—and can help her get adopted! “Can’t you just picture her laying on your windowsill soaking up the sun?” says the ASPCA’s Meg Allison, GIS Data Manager. “That’s why this picture is so great—it brings the cat front and center, and she seems perfect for any home looking for a four-legged friend.”

How to get the shot: Says Meg: “Duplicating this shot is really easy and can even be done by one volunteer. Cats love to get scratched, so why not use one hand to scratch/distract the cat while using the other to handle the camera? Make sure you are in an area flooded with natural light and your camera has a fast shutter speed or is set to the Action setting. When you are done, you can just crop your hand out if it made its way into the photo.”


Max
Photograph by Lynda Tersigni for Ashtabula County Animal Protective League

Why it rocks: “This photo makes me all warm and squishy,” says Brenna Jennings, ASPCA Web Design Manager. “There’s not much in the frame but it tells such a storythe love in Max’s face as he gazes up at his human, the soft pat of the hand. We can write stories about everything that’s left just out of that box. It’s beautiful.”

How to get the shot: Advises Brenna: “Watch for these kinds of moments, and be a reporter and observer during them. The less intrusive you and your camera are, the more likely you’ll be to capture easy, relaxed moments like this one. So genuine.”


Professor McGonagall
Photograph by Shaina Sheaff for Denton Animal Shelter Foundation

Why it rocks: “She is like the Mona Lisa following me everywhere with her eyes!” says Meg. “Really, I think this picture captures the simplicity of what animals need when looking for great homesa simple well-lit picture that connects them to people.”

How to get the shot: “This kind of picture can and should be duplicated in every shelter across the country!” states Meg. “All it takes is an area well lit with natural light and a background that is clean.” No backdrop or lighting equipment? No problem! “Walk around your facility, and I am sure there is at least one place that you could put a table or chair against a wall.”


Boots
Photograph by Katherine Kitzerow for Great Plains SPCA

Why it rocks: “I love Boots’ caught-in-the-act expression in this shot!” says Brenna. “The lighting is gorgeous and natural, and you can imagine that just before he heard the shutter snap, he was happily batting his toy mouse, visible in the bottom right of the frame. It’s the perfect non-action action shot.”

How to get the shot: “Capture shots like this by being a quiet observer,” says Brenna. “Think of a nature photographer, hiding in the brush quietly observing wildlife. (This technique also works great for human candids!)” P.S. A simple background will help keep the viewer’s eye on the animal’s face.


Slugger & Michelle
Photograph by Jill Caren for Eleventh Hour Rescue
Why it rocks: “This picture really captures the joy that Slugger has interacting with Michelle,” says Meg. “A potential adopter can see what a happy dog he is, and they are more likely to envision their lives with a happy dog than a sad, sulking dog.”

How to get the shot: Meg says: ”Pictures like these can be captured by being the quiet bystander. Watch your volunteers and and just wait for that perfect shot. Here, the dog is focused on the volunteer, so all you’d have to do is move yourself to take a picture of this sweet moment. Be patient! A staged dog doesn’t smile like Slugger!”


Marisol
Photograph by Lorinda Norton for Canyon County Animal Shelter

Why it rocks: “This is a classic portrait,” states Brenna. “Marisol’s gaze is fixed on something enticing, and the viewer is left to guess what it could be. The sunlight is bright and even, and you can feel her anticipation.”

How to get the shot: Photographing an animal with a stunning or patterned coat? A plain background will really make it stand out. “Shots like this showcase an animal,” explains Brenna, “as there are no distractions in the frame.” Be sure the full body is in view—in this case, “showing off that tri-color fur and perky ear!”

What’s your favorite trick for getting the shot? Please share in the comment box.

Click the links to see the finalists and winners and runner-ups in the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge photo contest.

Thank you to our staff experts, Meg Allison, GIS Data Manager, and Brenna Jennings, ASPCA Web Design Manager, for sharing their insight and advice on getting the perfect shot.

Related links:
ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge Photo Contest Winners
“Hot Shots: Getting Great Photos of Your Animals”
“Great Shelter Dog Photos (And Killer Abs!) In 7 Easy Steps”

Comments

Comment

I love this post. What’s interesting to me is that from a canine behavior-perspective, i.e. SAFER, the dogs are showing body language evoking low probability of aggression – a long lip in the case of the hound, mouth open in the case of the bully breed mix, a soft, loose body in the case of the tri-color dog. A win all-around!

Comment

I am actually the photographer who took the picture of Slugger and Michelle above (Michelle is in the photo) - and this is what I do in my free time and LOVE it. I work with several shelters on helping them get better images to showcase their adoptables in the best possible light. This means being patient and just waiting for the animal to be themselves, interacting naturally with their environment and getting comfortable with the people around them. It is not always easy, but the payoff can be a great forever home!

Comment

Ah -- thank you for the correction, Jill, and sorry about our error. We went ahead and fixed.

Love the pic!! Thanks for sharing the work you do with other shelters; I bet our readers will find that very inspiring.

Best,
Elyse
ASPCApro.org

Comment

Thanks Elyse for editing that.....and I could not imagine doing anything else with my free time! It is my stress reliever! Thank you for taking the time to bring to light the importance of a great image for adoptables! It can make all the difference! Jill

Comment

Hi,
I just stumbled across this article. I am the artist who captured the first photo. Thank you for featuring it! It actually was a very easy shot. Macie was relaxing in the sun on my bed. I noticed the beautiful light, grabbed my camera, set the exposure and snapped away. (The original photo, btw, includes all of her ear and part of her neck.) A sleepy kitty is not difficult to photograph. A wide-awake one is quite a different story! If I'd had someone scratching her at this moment, she probably would not have sat still. (At least not at this age.)I have lots of action shots of my kitties, but this one of Macie basking in the sun is one of my favorites!
-Jessica

Add a comment