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A fun way to promote taking great shelter-pet photos


Ask any Petfinder adopter and they’ll tell you the first thing that made them fall in love with their new pet was the photo of him or her on Petfinder. Our  shelter outreach team knows just how important photos are in attracting adopters, but we also know just how tough it can be to take pictures of wiggling dogs and shy cats. We decided to use this year’s Animal Care Expo, the largest animal welfare conference in the country, to help Petfinder member shelters and rescues focus on taking great pictures.

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A visitor to Petfinder’s booth gives our “adoptable pet” a big hug.

Petfinder has been a fixture in the exhibit hall of the annual Humane Society of the United States Animal Care Expo for many years. Our booth has featured everything from carnival games to video trivia, but this year we wanted something extra-special (and extra-large!).

Because the exhibit hall is always bustling with activity, pets aside from service dogs are not able to attend. With the help of Party Standups  we created larger-than-life cutouts of a dog, cat and rabbit for our exhibit space. Professional photographer Heather Brooks of Pupparazzi was on-site to give advice on taking great photos of adoptable pets and took pictures of conference attendees with their giant Petfinder pet of choice!

Visit a sampling of the event photos in our Facebook gallery and read on for our tips on taking great photos of adoptable pets.

Tips for Photographing Adoptable Pets

  • Make your Primary Photo an up-close and clear headshot to draw
    in potential adopters, preferably with eye-contact. This goes for all
    animals, including small and large pets.
  • Create a dedicated picture-taking area and remove all clutter or
    hide it with a sheet. Neutral or light solid-colored backdrops work
    best, particularly for dark-furred pets.
  • Use your camera’s zoom feature or a free photo editing program
    to crop out anything extraneous so the pet is the main focus of the
  • Take dogs outside and photograph other pets near a window to
    take advantage of natural light. Avoid a flash if possible as it can
    frighten animals and add a glare to the eyes.
  • Get pets to look into the camera with creative use of squeaker
    toys, funny sounds and dangling feather toys for cats. Eye-contact
    really connects pets with adopters.
  • Post multiple pictures, including a headshot looking into the
    camera, a full body shot and a picture to showcase the pet’s
    personality, like holding a toy or sitting on a lap.
  • While you have the pet where you want him, take lots of
    pictures. Several pictures might not be great, but the rest will be
    fantastic! Thankfully, with digital cameras, this is free.

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