Instructables

Documenting and Promoting Rescued Animals

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Picture of Documenting and Promoting Rescued Animals
So, you want to help save animals.  You're awesome.  You know the internet can help you.  You also know how important good pictures are to getting the animals you care for to people who are right for them.  But what's a good picture, anyway?  And who has time when right now there are dog dishes to be done!  Phones to be answered! Cat litter boxes to be cleaned!  Vets to be visited!  Hamsters to be fed!  Wait, what was I talking about again? I'm tired.

This guide will answer these questions.  I'm an academic who has interviewed lots of shelter and rescue workers, taken lots of pictures, and read lots of things so I can help you maximize both your time and the chances of your animals to be seen, supported, and adopted.
 
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Step 1: What's a good photo anyway?

Picture of What's a good photo anyway?
There are two kinds of good animal photos: ones that provoke a response in humans and ones that show what the animal actually looks like.  You want both.  And we'll talk about both.

But first!

Good photos have the animal in focus.  Good photos do not include cage bars.  Good photos avoid red demon eye.  This is not as easy as it sounds.  Some general tips.

1.  Give yourself ten minutes with the animal and expect to take a lot of photos.  But don't take more than fifteen minutes--you're busy, and sometimes the animal just isn't feeling it.  Coming back hours, days, or a week later will make both your lives happier.

2.  Having two humans makes photo-taking much easier.  Get someone to help you quick or have volunteers take photos in pairs.  That way one person can concentrate on soothing the animal, keeping their attention, and making sure they don't bolt out the door and over the field while the other can focus on the pictures.

3.  Take dogs and outdoor animals outdoors.  Position cats and indoor animals so they're facing a window or other light source.  This helps put a shine in the animal's eye and saves you from needing to use a flash--the prime cause of demon red eyes.

4.  It's easier to get animals in focus when they're not moving.  If you can, tire the animal out and then take your photos.  You can also try using the "sports" or "action" setting on your camera, if it has one, to capture quick motion.

5.  It's also easier to get animals in focus when there's no cage bars in front of them.  Bars freak out the camera and often cause it to lose focus on the animal--another good reason to take animals outside or move them from a kennel or cage for their photo.
Mindmapper111 months ago
I am sorry I dont get this at all. If this about taking good animal pictures to encourage folk to take them on then so called cute animals wearing bits of clothing doesn't do it for me. Making an animal look cute does not reflect the true animal, they are not always cute and they dont always behave! Young animals like young childern make a mess, are sick and poo when you least need them to!
The instructable doesnt actually explain how to to take a good pet photo, thinking of the back ground, lighting, position etc. I think getting these right would make a huge difference to the pictures and thus the appeal. Having said that taking pictures of animals is as hard if not harder than taking pictures of children!
As an animal lover cute pictures and pictures of cruelty to animals does not reflect the true nature of the situations, they are simply designed to deceive the potential adopter by running on those two specific tickets. Surely that defeats the object?

the picture is to get the person interested

Samantha Close (author)  Mindmapper111 months ago
Thanks for taking the time to read through the guide, and I completely feel you about the difficulty of taking care (and pictures!) of animals.

I didn't go too heavily into the details of lighting, backgrounds, and etc. for a few reasons.  One is that there are already great guides online for this written by people with way more experience and knowledge of animal photography than me: have a look at Berg's five basic tips for dog photography or Cowbelly Pet Photography's extensive guide.  The second is that, as wonderful as those guides are, they're aimed at photographers.  Many shelter and rescue volunteers and foster parents simply don't have the time or resources to work with different kinds of cameras or lighting set-ups.

I do disagree, though, with your last point.  I don't think taking cute or funny photos of the animals is deceiving and try to make that point in step 11.
Thanks for the reply. So you can honsetly say that using cute pictures does not sway people? Of course it does thats why they always use nice looking people, pretty kids and cute animals in adverts!
horses3410 months ago
Grumpy Cat!!!
Samantha Close (author)  horses3410 months ago
:-)
omnibot11 months ago
Aww, they're adorable ^_^ I'll keep this in mind for animalrescues.
Samantha Close (author)  omnibot11 months ago
Thanks!
TheMrCOOLguy211 months ago
How's this?
This is my uncles dog that he is training/rehabbing for adoption!!!:)
13, 6:15 PM.jpg
Samantha Close (author)  TheMrCOOLguy211 months ago
You've got a great picture going there! I love the dog's expression--it's so hard to catch an animal smiling with ears up like that. The colors and blurring look good too.

As advice, I'd move the text around a little so the "Adopt Me" doesn't cover the dog's awesome upright ears. I'd also put a border around "The Thomas Foundation" text on the side (or change the color) because it's a little hard to read the black text when it falls into the shadow below the dogs' legs.