Technology has made us lazy. People do not venture out of their homes when they can have their home needs delivered to them. For this reason, animal shelters need to put policies in place to photograph incoming animals as quickly as possible and post the photos on their website and social media sites to alert these home-bound pet owners. If the owner is found, the next trick is to try to get them out of their homes to reclaim their pet; I have had many owners of lost pets ask for home delivery (most do not want to dirty their car with pet hair).
Although some animals on intake are like trying to photograph a two-year-old child, they will be constantly on the move and will attempt to bite you. When dealing with such animals, shelter personnel will be tempted to be safe and photograph the animal through a cage, on a catchpole, or through the window of a feral box. Photos like these are the ones that your viewers will complain about most. The only reason for a poor photo is staff safety.
Consider your audience when photographing animals. In every animal shelter that I have worked, I always had a group of people who trolled our website looking for pictures that they could complain about. But, in fact, they were usually right; staff would be too quick to take a photo and post it. The problem with hastily taken photos is that you capture the animal in a pose that not even the owner would not recognize.
The “first” photo that is taken of an animal should be one that can recognize the animal for the owner. If you cannot handle the animal, then explain why and provide as much detail in the description of the animal.
If an animal is unclaimed, it becomes time to take additional photos of the animal; we call these the glamour shots. Hopefully the animal has calmed down enough to capture natural photos of it. Some shelters create space to set up a small studio with lights and backdrops, while other shelters have volunteers walking the animals take photos of animal on their walks. These images are key in “selling” the animal to a potential adopter.