With more and more adopters looking online for pets it’s increasingly important that shelter animals have great photos to show off their charm
The Shelter Art Foundation's Photography Teams brings together animal handlers, photographers and photo editors to help animals find loving homes. The team is the brainchild of longtime animal photographer Steve Sloop, who recently founded the non-profit Shelter Arts Foundation to help other shelters in need.
“Most shelters don’t have the resources to take professional pet photos,” said Steve. “We want to take what we’ve learned at The SPCA and take it all over the country...We use professional backgrounds and studio lighting and then upload the pictures right at The SPCA. A photo editor can then work on them immediately from anywhere in the world!”
An award-winning program
Besides SPCA volunteers, Steve has also recruited students from Monterey Peninsula College and members of local photography clubs. The SPCA provides training for animal handling, and Shelter Arts Friends, the volunteer arm of Shelter Arts Foundation, teaches the photography skills.
“It takes at least four people to get the job done right,” said Brian Rozema, a pet handler on the team who also constructed our photo backdrop. “You learn the tricks of how to get the animal focused on the camera, how to get their ears up so they look their best. . . . Everyone works together.”
The photography team is so successful The SPCA received the $1,000 Model Volunteer Program award from PetSmart, beating out other shelters nationwide. Volunteers come in once a week for photo sessions before the shelter opens at 11 am, but once a week is not enough to keep up with the constant intake of animals. We need more volunteers so that all pets can have the best possible profile photo to attract adopters.
“It’s so rewarding to see all the Facebook comments on our photos. People all over the country are oohing and aahing over SPCA pets!” said Diane Farrow-Lapin, photographer and animal handler. “This has been a great way to learn how to use my camera, and the shots really make a difference for the animals.”
If you’d like to learn more about how to have a photo workshop at your shelter about animal handling, camera operation, studio lighting, or photo editing please contact us.