Makeover Photography for Animal Shelters

by on December 20th, 2010
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The large black dog was cowering behind the cage door. This is how we usually see the photos of the shelter dog. Lately this image has been changing. There is a movement to make photographing shelter dogs more like glamour shots. The adoption rate has been greatly affected by the quality of the photos at some shelters.

Humane Society of New York

Fashion photographer Richard Phibbs has teamed up with the Humane society of New York to help change the plight of shelter animals there. His photos seem to catch the animals personalities and show them in a different light, literally. Most of the photos I saw were with the animal against a white backdrop. Most had a scarf, necklace, or bow tie to add some color. He has gone so far as to compile the photos into a book, “Chasing Beauty”. He is donating part of the proceeds to the Humane Society.

Shelter Dogs

“Shelter Dogs” compiled by Traer Scott is another book done in up close, black and white photographs. A photographer based in Rhode Island that is raising awareness of the many animals that are abandoned each year. She took beautiful, endearing photos of homeless dogs where she was a volunteer. She is also donating part of the proceeds to the ASPCA. Her photos are some of my favorites. The dogs are not dressed up, but face to face, heartfelt portraits.

Tips for Better Photos of Shelter Animals

Photographing the animal at the own height is always a good practice. Most photos are taken from a standing position. Crouch down, get on their eye level, this will make for a better quality photo.

Don’t take the photo through cage bars, if at all possible. Taking the photo with another person does help to convey how large the animal is. Having a person hug the animal or help you to get a playful look out of them is worth the additional effort.

Give the animal a toy. Put a ball in their mouth! Tie a bandana on their neck! Help convey the thought that there are many years of life left in this dog to share with you.

Help save a shelter animal, volunteer!


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