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Photographing Shelter Dogs

  • 1.  Photographing Shelter Dogs

    Posted 10-31-2018 12:27 PM

    Interesting article from Faunalytics that provides advice for photographing shelter dogs. 

    "Some excellent advice for companion animal and shelter animal advocates: photographing a dog on a plain indoor background gives them the highest adoptability rating."

    I honestly would have assumed it would be better to get the animals out in real-life shots or with people.

    What have you seen work when photographing shelter/rescue pets? 

    You can read the full article here:


  • 2.  RE: Photographing Shelter Dogs

    Posted 11-01-2018 07:03 AM

    Oddly, I just finished reading an article (can't remember where) that said never photograph dogs with a plain background, but always in an environment that makes them look approachable and friendly, i.e. on a couch, with a child, playing ball, etc.  That makes total sense to me, although obviously a plain background would highlight their looks.


  • 3.  RE: Photographing Shelter Dogs

    Posted 11-01-2018 05:34 PM

    Thanks for sharing the article! I totally figured the same thing which is why that article saying to do it on a plain background really caught my attention. When you really dig into her experiment of the outdoor sunny location vs. plain white background vs. "caged" setting and the way the experiment was administered (online through SurveyMonkey) I'm sure there are a lot of variables that caused her to come to the conclusion that plain background is better. And I'm sure in actual practice, the results vary!


  • 4.  RE: Photographing Shelter Dogs

  • 5.  RE: Photographing Shelter Dogs

    Posted 11-02-2018 01:57 PM
      |   view attached

    This is an interesting study, and definitely, agree that there's room for testing lots of other factors around the results! Her conclusion that "While these experiments provide some insight into the world of adoption photos, the information they give shows us that the specifics of shelter dog photography may not be as important as many people seem to suggest" definitely hits on one of my favorite mantras of "not letting perfect be the enemy of good". There are countless small things we can do to improve shelter photos that will inevitably lead to more exposure and more attention for our animals and organizations. I think it's hard to draw broad-based conclusions about some of the factors, given that appeal and attention are so subjective.

    However, another recent research project is this one, that helps identify some of what adopters identified as most important in terms of how the dogs appear and what they are shown, as well as how often they used things like online photos to make decisions about adoption prospects.  Infographic for this study is attached and has some really interesting info!

    In terms of achieving some of what the author touches on and beyond, there are lots of ways to achieve a fairly uncluttered and almost solid-looking backdrop in a shelter environment by using a shallow depth of field (or portrait mode, on a cell phone!), even outdoors or in kennels/cages. We have some resources and examples that help show and describe this here: and 

    I hope this is helpful in taking some of the data and creating real-world applications :) 


  • 6.  RE: Photographing Shelter Dogs

    Posted 11-02-2018 02:26 PM

    Thanks for sharing this study Charlotte! I'd like to see the photos the author used in her tests. I still have the prior and more comprehensive study she mentions bookmarked from when Maddie's Fund mentioned it    Caitlyn, that's a great infographic. I agree with "happy" all the way! What I've found works best depends on what's feasible, fastest, and least stressful for the shelter staff/volunteers and the pets to get photos that aren't blurry or dark -- for me that's most often been in the pet's kennels. 


  • 7.  RE: Photographing Shelter Dogs

    Posted 11-10-2018 10:41 AM

    Totally agree! I think it has to be that blend of efficiency and effectiveness, and in-kennel photos are so much easier for someone working or photographing alone


  • 8.  RE: Photographing Shelter Dogs

    Posted 11-09-2018 06:36 AM

    Does anyone have any feedback or opinions regarding photographs and videos for cats?  There is always quite the lively discussion at our free-roam cat rescue (Fearless Kitty Rescue) over glamour shots vs. cats playing vs. cats with humans.  We are exploring and leaning towards cats with humans and cats playing for videos, but no real consensus when it comes to photographs? 


  • 9.  RE: Photographing Shelter Dogs

    Posted 11-10-2018 11:16 AM
      |   view attached

    I haven't seen much research on this particular topic but what we typically recommend with one of our shelter photography programs at HeARTs Speak is to recommend variety, depending on the ultimate use of the image. For instance, sometimes the beautiful headshot style photos are great for an adoption listing, where folks are scrolling through and looking at many different photos, whereas the more interactive photos with humans and play shots are amazing for social media and attracting attention in that medium. And your instincts are definitely perfect for video -- play and cuddling or interacting with people is wonderful, just be sure to keep video under 60 seconds or so, and even better if it can be 30 seconds,  to really capture and keep attention! There has been some more recent research about how valuable video is (even over photos in some cases!, and it's certainly true that in the social media world, video performs very well and may get your page/posts more attention than a static photo :) 

    Including a few other resources that might be helpful! 


  • 10.  RE: Photographing Shelter Dogs

    Posted 11-11-2018 06:25 AM

    Thank you so much, Caitlin. Much appreciated.


  • 11.  RE: Photographing Shelter Dogs

    Posted 11-12-2018 09:23 AM

    Here's a nice little video by Prairie Paws AS in Ottawa, KS with some great tips on photographing shelter pets on a limited budget.


  • 12.  RE: Photographing Shelter Dogs

    Posted 11-24-2018 06:26 PM

    Brooke Bourgeois at Jefferson Westbank Animal Shelter is great at this. I interviewed her years ago and she couldn't boast enough how these photos aid in adoption.;timeline_context_item_type=intro_card_work&timeline_context_item_source=100003551442933&fref=tag&rf=129456483853962