You've probably heard the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words". It refers to the notion that a larger idea or story can be conveyed with just one image. The idea or story conveyed is entirely dependent on the viewer's perception, and when it comes to pictures of adoptable pets, it's important that the perception is positive.
Think about pet adoption listings in the paper or on adoption websites. Which photos really made an impression? Sure, you might remember the sad photos of scared-looking dogs or cowering cats, but the positive photos, the open-mouthed grinning dogs and wide-eyed curious cats, those pictures made you feel happy, maybe even made you smile, and those are the pets you were tempted to meet.
Photos are often the best tool we have to grab the attention of a potential adopter and give the animal a better chance at adoption, which makes a photo worth so much more than a thousand words, it can be worth a whole new life.
Misty is a great example. She's a young pit bull mix available for adoption right now in our shelter. Our Community Outreach Director recently snapped two photos of Misty. One shows Misty as most shelter visitors see her: curled up in her room looking apprehensive and fearful. The other photo could be a completely different dog and is actually more reflective of Misty's true personality. She's smiling, happy and having fun. Which dog would you want to adopt?
This is why photos, good photos, are so important to our adoption efforts. In an age of websites, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, words and stories are often bypassed in favor of engaging photos and videos.
Thankfully, several members of our staff are more than happy to snap photos of our shelter pets in cute poses or in the middle of funny antics, so we usually have an assortment of photos to choose from when marketing our adoptable pets. Also though, we have some truly amazing volunteers participating in our Pawparazzi Photography assignment, snapping candid shots and occasionally providing photo shoots with professional camera equipment, props, and beautiful photo editing.
If you consider yourself a decent photographer, or just like to snap photos of pets, we'd love to see your work! Come by our shelter during adoption hours and see if any Kodak moments arise. You can email your photos to email@example.com, and I'll be happy to share the best shots on our social media pages and give you full credit.
If you prefer photo sessions with your own pet, we have a fun opportunity for you to share those photos and your pet's story with the world during our "Hot Dogs and Cool Cats Summer Photo Contest". We have some great prizes up for grabs, including your pet's very own professional photo session with digital copies and a canvas print, SPCA prize packages, gift certificates and tickets to our upcoming Barkaritaville event in October.
We have some fantastic entries already and despite the name, the contest is open to pets of any species, not just cats and dogs. For example, Charlie DaBird and Miss Darla Darlin' the snuggle pig are in second and twelfth place respectively.
The photo contest is open until August 15th. You can view entries, read the rules and enter at www.LetLoveLive.org.
If you're interested in the Pawparazzi Volunteer assignment and would like to join our team, visit www.LetLoveLive.org/volunteer or email our Volunteer Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah Neikam is the Communications & Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. She is an Aiken native and has been with the SPCA since 2012. Sarah lives in Graniteville with her husband, Tom, mother, Cheryl and three adopted cats: Bastian, Luna and Grady.