Rebekah Nemethy is a fellow animal rescue podcaster. She hosts My Rescue Rocks, now in its second season. Rebekah shares her story as an artist and podcaster, her spectacular photography, some photography tips, and a number of inspiring animal rescue stories.
Rebekah Nemethy's Photography Tips
Whether you want to believe it or not, each pet's photo is marketing. Sad marketing often leads to pity, and not adoptions. Here are some tips to keep your rescue dogs looking happy and help them get adopted.
- Never show a pet in a metal enclosure and try to avoid chain link fences if possible too. These elements give the psychological impression of a prison which is associated with bad behavior. We don't want to strengthen the bad dog stereotype. Always take the dog to a happy place, in the grass, on a piece of comfy furniture, even up against a plain old wall will be a huge improvement over any kind of crate or cage. A last resort I use is the over-the-shoulder pose, if there is no decent photo location at your facility, have someone hold the dog over their shoulder with their back to you, you can easily use a bright blue sky or a plain wall, indoors or outdoors, as a simple background.
- Get their happy face on! You want your pups panting with their ears perked. Why? Because a dog with his tongue out most resembles a smile to our simple human brains, and the perky ears give the viewer the impression that he is interested, curious, or playful. Who doesn't love a good head tilt?
- You won't always be able to get all three of these ideal gestures (tongue out, perky ears, head tilt) in every shot, but you sure can try. Play with the dog before you take his photo, if he's running around chasing a ball he's sure to be smiling afterwards. Have an arsenal of silly sounds at your disposal. I always carry a squeaker, a clicker, and I've got my Donald duck voice down pat. I also have a giant bag of treats and I've been known to take the bag out and shake it over my camera.
- Dogs with floppy ears really look 100% happier with their ears up, so personally that's what I go for in every shot. Dogs with cropped ears look nicer with a smile.
- I totally advocate dressing up dogs too. Cheap scarves, flowers, bow ties, etc., can be found at your local craft store. Not only do dogs in costume stand out, but in my mind they also give the dog some credit for having a decent temperament. I wouldn't let someone take photos of me in antlers!
- Use text overlays for names, quotes, and captions to grab attention. Put the dog's name on the photo, give him a thought bubble and write something cute about what he's thinking inside. If you use Photoshop you can find inexpensive overlays that are pre-made, but there are tons of free apps out there that will allow you to add your own text or stickers to a photo. If you're not tech savvy then you can make physical signs and posters for dogs to wear or stand next to. Get creative, do silly things, and stand out!
- Lighting is a topic I could write a book about, but I'm going to keep things simple for the beginners out there. Never use on camera flash, just turn it off. Unless you have experience with off camera lighting or you can control the direction of your flash, I recommend you use natural light whenever possible.
- Inside, you should turn off all the lights and use natural light through windows. Outside, on a sunny day, make sure you situate your rescue pups either fully in the sun or fully in the shade, not, for example, under a tree where there's splotchy light. Overcast days, however, are the easiest lighting conditions to get great photos outdoors. Just make sure the sun is at your back, even on overcast days.
- Be aware that these tips are coming from me directly and not from HeARTs Speak. As a member, I highly recommend anyone interested in shelter photography go get the HeARTs Speak Field Guide to learn more about the technical aspects of shelter photography, studio lighting, post processing, working with cats and dogs, and how to best promote pets on social media. There is no other guide out there like it.
HeARTs Speak application window for Perfect Exposure Project grants
Also, right now through March 31st, HeARTs Speak is accepting applications from shelters interested in participating in the 2016 Perfect Exposure Project. This is for open admission shelters only and a limited number of grants will be given out, but if your shelter is chosen HeARTs Speak will provide a free 2-day workshop AND donate a camera and lighting equipment to keep the great photos rolling out. Apply here: http://heartsspeak.org/2016/02/applications-now-op…
Reflective Photos is Rebekah Nemethy's beautiful photography website, for both pet photography and fine art photography.http://reflectivephotos.net/
My Rescue Rocks is Rebekah Nemethy's animal rescue podcast. You can find it on iTunes or play it directly from her website.http://myrescuerocks.net/
Lisa Prince Fishler was the first pet photographer who gave Rebekah a positive vibe and introduced her to Hearts Speak (often spelled HeARTs Speak), a global organization of artists dedicated to animal welfare.
HeARTs Speak is the organization founded by Lisa Prince Fishler.http://heartsspeak.org/
Pets Alive is the animal rescue organization that provided the source for several of Rebekah Nemethy's interviews in the first season of My Rescue Rocks. They rescue a number of dogs, cats, horses, and other animals at their facilities.http://www.petsalive.com/
My Rescue Rocks selected episodes
Joseph Knipp and Robert the pit bull in a wheelchairhttp://myrescuerocks.net/2015/07/31/how-rockin-rob…
Lisa Prince Fishlerhttp://myrescuerocks.net/2015/07/31/letting-our-he…
Nina Huang with her greyhound Apollohttp://myrescuerocks.net/2015/09/01/the-healing-po…
Nancy and Harold Rhee - we kicked off Rebekah's second season and had a blast!http://myrescuerocks.net/2016/02/02/foster-frenzy-…
Consumer Reports - where Rebekah Nemethy works as a product photographerhttp://www.consumerreports.org/cro/index.htm
Snap Judgment - the podcast that influenced Rebekah's podcast style http://snapjudgment.org/podcast
All of Pawprint's music is composed by Luke Gartner-Brereton. Luke is a musician based in Australia, and he composes a wide variety of songs and musical loops http://vanillagroovestudios.com http://soundcloud.com/luke-gartnerbrereton
If you want to learn more about Nancy and Harold, go to our About Us page at thisispawprint.com/about
or listen to our introductory podcast episode, "Fifty Puppies and a Podcast." http://thisispawprint.com/000
Thanks again to Rebekah Nemethy!
Pawprint (or Paw Print) is a weekly podcast dedicated to animal rescue, adoption, and the heroes who make it happen. Adopt or foster a dog, cat, rabbit, or other wonderful pet through your local shelter, humane society, SPCA, pound, and animal control.