Monday, March 2, 2015

More than a thousand words...

Ari, available through Georgetown Animal Outreach.
You hear the phrase "A picture is worth a thousand words" all too often. When it comes to photography for shelter and rescue animals, however, the phrase is lacking. A picture is worth SO much more than words. A photo can be the difference between life or death for a shelter animal. 

Online shopping is just part of our culture. Last week, I ordered vegan marshmallows online, so believe me when I say that online shopping for any and everything is normal. That includes our pets! Of course, marshmallows don't compare to an animal in any form, however, an online pet profile is often the very first impression that potential adopters have with your shelter or rescue animals. It NEEDS to be an amazing impression.

At the end of each day, I review the data we collect on my website to see how potential customers are interacting with my site as well as the products. One huge area of focus with my website is my online presentation of each item. I ensure each item has a clear photo and of course a description showcasing what my customers will be purchasing.

With pets, those same aspects of their profile are important. A beautiful photo and a short biography sharing your adoptable pet's personality can be the difference of a potential adopter closing that window or making the decision to set up a meet and greet or visit the shelter. A shelter website with many clear, beautiful photos of their pets gives these potential adopters the image that she shelter is a clean and friendly place to visit! Many individuals believe that shelters are a sad place to visit, if you can present yourself in a happy, exciting way, more potential adopters will want to visit. (Of course, I mean you need to come across pleasant online AS WELL as in person.) If your online presentation is great, you are giving your shelter pets a bigger and better chance for adoption. 

Whitney, available for adoption through Love A Bull
I get asked to visit shelters and rescues outside of my immediate area all the time and while I would love to travel everywhere and spend all of my time photographing shelter pets, I can't.

I do, however, work with an amazing organization called Hearts Speak, which is a community of photographers and artists working to ensure all shelter and rescue pets are given a beautiful photo to help them find their forever families! Reach out to one of the hundreds of Hearts Speak photographers! If you are in one of the few communities without a Hearts Speak member, approach one of your area professional photographers to see if they might be interested in working with your organization! For me, all it takes is a rescue that is willing to bring their pets to my studio and I am happy to donate a little time.

As for advice on approaching a photographer to work with your rescue; remember that they are donating their time (and money essentially) to you. Show the photographers your appreciation by offering them advertising on your website and/or social media. I ask that rescues tag my facebook page in each photo they share, this gives me a little exposure while helping the pets. NEVER edit a photographers work without their permission. I provide square profile photos as well as cover photos sized appropriately on request. Many other photographers would do the same!

Relationships are so important and some of my most cherished business relationships are those of my rescue and shelter friends. They have helped to grow my business and in return, I know that I have been part of saving the lives of hundreds of homeless pets. A great photo is priceless for a shelter dog, make sure you are offering your shelter pets the chance to be seen!

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist

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