Pet Adoption Tips and Tricks

7 Pro Tips for Achieving Amazing Pet Photos

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Michelle Fournier

We live in a visual world where high quality imagery has become the standard. As shelter operators you have the BEST subject matter ever to capture. With the abundance of high quality camera phones and professional photography equipment, it’s easy to produce engaging, clear, quality images helping to lead to an increase in successful adoptions and donations.  

We spoke with two accomplished pet photographers to gain insight into the importance of high-quality images for increasing adoptions and donations. Courtney Bryson, of CM Bryson Photography, who lends her talents to the Humane Society of Morgan County, and Ashley Timms, of Ashley Timms Photography, who photographs the pets at the Potter League in Newport Rhode Island. 

Here are 7 tips that are easy to implement and will make you and your animals look good!

Shoot at eye level:

The eyes are the window to the soul, and few are more soulful than a pet looking for a home. In order to catch the love, personality and soul of a pet, take the image from eye-level as if the viewer is truly looking into the eyes of that cat or dog. It allows the potential adopted to feel as though they are connected to the pet prior to even meeting the pet. 

Create an Image Check-list:

An image checklist helps you capture the important shots that will engage your audience. Top of our checklist are 1. Head Shot (from eye level), 2. A sitting picture, 3. A personality shot (head tilt, belly rub, etc), and 4. Have fun with photo booth props! Boas, glasses, hats and scarves, will infuse a level of fun that translates really well to potential adopters.


Capture the pet looking like a member of the family:

Pet adopters want to envision the pet at home and as a loving member of their family. The right image can help do that. The big takeaway is, NO cages! Metal bars in front of faces deliver the wrong message. All the shots in your image checklist can surely help the pet look like a member of the family. 

Remember the 30/60/90 rule:

The longer the pet lives in the Shelter the harder it becomes for them to find their forever home. When selecting pets to photograph for your website and social media pages, start with those who have been there 30/60/90 days. “Not all dogs need to be photographed,” said Courtney Bryson, “I don’t concentrate on capturing puppies, they’ll quickly find their homes, I concentrate on those who have been with the Shelter for 30/60/90 days.”

Senior pictures encourage adoptions:

Quality images have encouraged potential adopters to be more open to pets who have previously been viewed as “unadoptable” such as senior pet or those with health conditions. Capture the senior pets heart, not their age. 


Leverage video to increase donations:

Videos tell stories and donors love stories. Add videos to your website and social media pages/albums, everywhere you can ~ Bryson indicated the simple add of  videos to these platforms contributed to a massive increase in donations for the Humane Society of Morgan County.

Will work for pets:

Leverage your social media in search of professional photographers who will work pro-bono on behalf of your organization. There are a lot of compassionate, animal-loving, talented photographers who would be happy to help and donate their talents to the cause.

Onyx-Ashley Timms


Both Potter League and Humane Society of Morgan County found upticks in web site traffic, inquiries, successful adoptions and donations when they raised their photography bar. “In the three years since I started photographing the guests at the Humane Society of Morgan County, and sharing those images on our website and social medial pages, we have increased successful adoptions from 175 to 400,” said Courtney Bryson of CM Bryson Photography. Follow these simple tips, and watch your adoptions skyrocket.


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