Not all rescues or shelters have a professional photographer who can come onsite (or to your home or adoption event) and take photos of your pets, which means great photos are up to you! And great photos entice adopters! People CAN and DO fall in love with a pet through their photo! Here are a few tips and tricks:
- LIGHTING – Natural light will always be the best light. Indoor photos – try to take photos near a big, open window. Outdoor photos – while this seems counter-intuitive, the best outdoor photos are in the shade right outside of direct sunlight (to the side of a house, under a tree, etc.). Pro Tip: The most ideal time of day for natural lighting is 1-2 hours after sunrise and 1-2 hours before sunset. That said… if your spare bedroom for your litter of kittens is in the basement, that’s kind of hard to do! Mirrors can give great extra lighting, white or very light colored walls are great, a few extra lamps or a desk lamp with the spotlight turned toward the wall behind the pets can help. But for goodness’ sake, do not use the flash on your smartphone camera if you want a great photo – it will shine directly into their eyes and they will look like a gremlin!
- REMOVE CLUTTER – Take the extra throw pillows off the couch, toss the laundry pile on the floor (out of the “scene”), put down a solid-color or two-tone blanket, and snap away! If you just finished cooking dinner and the counter is full of dishes, try to angle the camera down to cut that out of the photo! A plain and clean background makes for the best photos – a freshly mowed lawn rather than the lawn mower will make for a more appealing photo!
- PATIENCE – Okay, maybe this should have been number one. Don’t expect to take one shot and be done… this is one of those times that you just keep shooting and moving until you *might* have one good photo out of 100! Plan ahead to actually spend thirty minutes or so with your pet one-on-one – start out with a play session, or petting session, and turn it into photo time.
- TOYS, LURES, TREATS – You’ll need to use some (or all) of these tools to get your foster’s attention. Squeaky toys can get you the perfect head tilt, treats can get you a wide smile and tongue lolling out, and feather pole lures can get your kitten to show some spunk instead of run straight at you! It can also help if you have a full-on play session 20 minutes before you even try to snap your first shot – tire them out and get a great photo of your pup with his head on his paws in the lawn, or your kitty curling up in a bed or on the back of the couch.
- EYES – If your foster pet’s eyes are in focus, even if they aren’t looking directly at you, your photo will look a thousand times better! Getting down on their level can help with this, and will also make the photos more intimate than from standing over your foster pet.
- FIND AN ASSISTANT – If at all possible, enlist a friend’s help! If a friend is helping you, make sure they stand close to you and squeak a toy, shake a lure, or hold a treat right next to or nearly behind the camera – you want the pet’s focus to be right at or near the lens of the camera to keep them in focus and capture the emotion and soul behind their eyes!
- CROPPING VS. ZOOM – If your kitty lays down in front of a window and you know if you move from your spot on the couch she’ll run, don’t zoom in on her – take the photo at regular zoom and crop it after. There’s a little known secret that when using a camera phone (as most of us will when photographing our furry foster friends) images remain clearer if you take a photo from farther away and crop it down smaller rather than zooming in to take the shot.
- EDIT, BUT DON’T OVER-EDIT – So, Instagram filters are great, but they are also recognizable and often used for fun. You don’t want to over edit a photo, but adjusting for additional brightness if your lighting wasn’t great, or increasing contrast to make Spot’s black patch stand out more won’t hurt anyone! If you use a filter, use the slide to take the edge off – use it at 30% or 50% instead of full-force.
- RULE OF THIRDS – I’m not going to try to explain this one, because it’s more artsy-fartsy than the rest. So if you’re interested in taking your foster photos to the next level, here’s a short and concise article on the rule of thirds, with examples.