One of the most important aspects of an animal shelter’s operation is the quality of the photos that are taken of the animals entering your shelter. It speaks volumes of about your public image: some people will equate the quality of the animal’s photo to the actual care you take of the animal in your care.
I would get frequent complaints about animal control officers photographing cats through livetraps or the plexiglass doors of feral boxes. Let’s face it, a photo on your website sometimes determines if an animal will be found by its owner; many owners will not make the effort to look for their pet at the animal shelter. Pet owners will always have an excuse to not search for their pet; today’s pandemic has finally given them a good excuse.
When an animal first enters the animal shelter, a photo should be take of the animal’s head and body for the purpose of identification. If you cannot safely get a good photo, then describe why in the animal notes and go the extra mile in writing the animals physical description and where the animal was found. Once the animal has settled down, you’ll want a better photo to encourage the animal’s adoption.
Getting the glamor shots is a good job for volunteers. Most volunteers will take the animals out on bright sunny days so as to set the camera’s exposure to gain the greatest depth of field. Active animals will require the brighter days so as to catch them at a faster shutter speed. On gloomy days, many shelters will set up studio lights in the shelter to photograph the animals under the better lighting conditions.
Photographing animals can become a contentious issue with volunteers; as they compete against one another for first “photo” spot. I have had incidents in which the volunteers become hostile against one another. The purpose of the photos is to improve the chances of an animal being found by its owners or getting adopted; the best photos that you post on your website should depict the animal’s best side and not who took the photo.