Feb 18, 2016
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
- 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
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-open-for-our-2016-perfect-exposure-project/
Reflective Photos is Rebekah Nemethy's beautiful
photography website, for both pet photography and fine art
My Rescue Rocks is Rebekah Nemethy's animal rescue
podcast. You can find it on iTunes or play it directly from her
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
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.
My Rescue Rocks selected episodes
Joseph Knipp and Robert the pit bull in a wheelchair
Lisa Prince Fishler
Nina Huang with her greyhound Apollo
Nancy and Harold Rhee - we kicked off Rebekah's second season and
had a blast!
Consumer Reports - where Rebekah Nemethy works as a product
Snap Judgment - the podcast that influenced Rebekah's
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