Save More Lives with These Photo and Video Tips
With today’s mobile technology, one of the most powerful tools available to rescue homeless pets is at all of our fingertips. Pictures and videos are great for marketing animals to the 24 million families in the USA that acquire new pets every year. But, before you grab your phone and start snapping pictures, some simple tips can turn them from bla to bang. Coming up, I?ll share some tricks for making the most of pictures and videos to help you market your animals best and save the largest number of pets possible. As an oldtimer to animal rescue, I am thrilled with how technology has helped shelters and rescues more easily share homeless pets. Today, using software like RescueSuite we can - in a matter of seconds - add photos and videos to user-friendly screens and automatically post them on hundreds of pet search web sites, in lost and found systems and microchip registries. I remember the old days before social media, when none of that was true. But, I also cringe when I see some of the photos and videos being spread around. You know that old saying, ?A picture paints 1,000 words.? Well, what words do you think a picture like this is painting? I assure you, they are not good ones. But, I?m here to help with 12 tips to help you make your pet photos and videos look more like this. They are all much easier than you might think! And, trust me, I am not a professional photographer, so if these tips can help me make my pictures and videos better, they can help yours, too! Tip Number 1 - and probably the most important tip of them all - it is all about the lighting. Getting good, sharp, clear pictures or videos requires good light. Photography has been described as ?painting with light.? And, the more of it you have, the easier it is to do well. More light means the depth of field - or the focus in the picture - can be deeper, meaning more of the picture will be in focus. It also means the shutter of the camera will open and close more quickly, meaning moving animals will show less motion blur. Colors will also be brighter and contrast will be enhanced. The best light is bright but soft and diffused and not too intense or glaring. Studio lights with diffusers are ideal. If those are not available, take shelter pet photos in the brightest area you can find. Indoors, find a bright window and let the light from the window shine on the pets? faces, avoiding backlighting whenever possible. Otherwise, take the pet outside in the daylight for brighter pictures and videos. And, while we are on the topic of lighting: Don?t use the flash, unless there is absolutely no way to avoid it. The back of the eyeballs of most animals is very reflective. In low light situations, when the pupils of their eyes open up and a flash hits them head-on, this can turn a happy pet into one that looks like it is possessed by demons. So, if at all possible, just say no to the flash. Tip 2 - Keep the background clean, simple and tasteful. A busy, dirty or cluttered background takes attention away from your subject and can be very distracting. Suggestion: You can set up a simple photography area, with a pleasant backdrop and studio lights with little money or effort. This can save countless hours struggling to get the right shot while improving the quality of your pet videos and pictures. Oh, I know what you are saying, I can hear some of you know, ?But, we don?t have any spare space to take pictures.? But the fact of the matter is that you are taking pictures now and by adding some extra attention to the areas where you are doing that, even if it happens to be in the dog kennels, you can make sure the area is clean, bright and ready to be shown to the public. Tip 3 - Change your perspective. People frequently look at dogs and cats while they are in a standing position. Therefore, photographing pets from that angle is not that interesting. A more intimate and captivating image can be created by lowering the camera to the animal?s height, so they can be photographed from their own perspective. Tip 4 - Compensate for color. Anyone who has photographed shelter pets knows that black or other dark-colored animals are more difficult to photograph. That is because less light reflects off their fur, meaning less of the ambient light actually reaches the camera. Be sure you are setting the exposure for the picture or video to match the color of the pet. Dong that is usually as simple as tapping on the animal?s face in your camera viewfinder. Your phone or tablet should automatically adjust the exposure to the area tapped, rather than on the surrounding area. Tip Number 5 - Think layout. Different social media and pet search sites have different standards for picture and video shapes and it can all seem complicated. But, following these simple suggestions can get you past all of that: Most importantly: when shooting videos, turn your phones or tablets sideways so that the video will be wider than it is tall. Doing this will ensure the video is formatted to fit computer screens, television sets and mobile phones. Failing to do this means people will have to look at tall, skinny videos on wide screens, meaning they have to look at black blobs next to your video. Let your pets faces shine by turning your camera sideways. Layout for photographs is a little less sensitive. But, different sites have different standards and the format that works best on all of them overall is square. This means you can take your pet photographs either vertical or horizontal, and then crop them to a square format, or approximately square. If you are a Rescuesuite Software user, horizontal videos and square-ish photographs will ensure that your pet photos and videos will look their best on all of the lost and found and pet search web sites. Tip 6 - Photo Bursts and Short videos for moving animals. We have all had the experience of trying to photograph a pet that won?t sit still. By the time you have clicked the camera shutter, the pet has moved and what would have been the perfect shot is a mess. Most cameras have a shooting mode that is called Burst. Using the burst mode, a series of photos are taking in rapid succession when the shutter is pressed. Doing this makes it more likely that you will capture a good shot with a moving pet. You can also take a short video clip and export a single frame from the video as your perfect still image. Tip 7 - Get their attention. Use squeaky toys, cat string toys and/or treats to get a pet to look at you when taking their pictures. Tip number 8 - enroll a handler. The only thing more difficult than taking an active pet?s photo is trying to hold the pet while you are doing that. Having a handler makes all of the difference in the world. Tip 9 - Take plenty of photos and videos so you can pick the best ones. Tip 10 - Make the switch to video, as much as possible and in every way possible. It is as easy to take short videos of pets as it is still photos. Sometimes it is even easier to catch good video vs a still. And videos are so much more interesting to watch. A bad video is often better than an OK photo. Traffic to pet pages as well as likes and shares for them go up when you use video. That is why RescueSuite software supports the use of video, as do many of the other shelter management software providers. And, naturally, the pet search sites love it when you use video. More importantly, it helps you connect your pets to more people to increase adoptions and fostering. You don?t even have to worry about making your first videos fancy. Just point your phone or tablet (remembering to hold it sideways to capture wide video) at your subject then say his or her name and a little bit about him or her. They don?t need to be long. A 10 second video is better than a still photo. But, of course, keep taking some still photos, too. Just make sure every pet has at least one good photo and video. Tip 11 - Use a tripod to keep your videos stable and your images crisp. Shaky video or pictures with motion blur are simply bla. Tip 12 - Use a Bluetooth camera shutter so you can snap pictures when you are not standing right next to your tripod-mounted camera. This can help you manage and position pets, lights and toys while also snapping pictures. Following these simple steps can help you to put your pets best paws forward, help them reach a broader audience, and - most importantly - help generate more adoptions. So, get started today and be sure to share this video with people you know who shoot pictures and videos of shelter pets.