Yes, you can take great pet adoption photos with a smartphone, if you keep a few simple tips in mind.
Spend time on a pet adoption website, and you’re likely to see any number of bad pet photos. Considering the incredible power of images, particularly in social media, that’s a huge missed opportunity for shelters and rescue groups — and tragically one that can cost animals their lives.
Far too often, when the staff members, volunteers, or fosters tasked with taking those photos are asked if they can take better images, their response is something like, ‘I”m not a professional photographer. This is the best I can do.”
If that’s you, try these simple tips:
1. Get down. Don’t ever take photos from above the pet looking down. Kneel, lie down or put them up on a cat tree or sofa. Eye level photos are much better and more successful at capturing attention than those shot from another angle.
2. The eyes have it. Get the pet looking at you instead of up, down, or off to the side. It should appear the pet is looking into the camera.
3. Snap on. Take many, many photos — dozens of them. Instead of waiting for the right moment to click, just keep snapping away. Go through them later, delete the ones you don’t like, and save the ones you do.
4. Lighten up. Forget the flash. It won’t be pretty, and it ruins the effect of the pet’s eyes. Instead, take the photos outdoors or near a window during daylight hours.
5. Don’t zoom — crop! Zooming reduces image quality drastically, so don’t do it. Instead, take the photo and crop it to get the close-up effect you’re looking for.
6. Cropping tools. You can crop right on most newer smartphones with their own native editing tools, or use a free program like GIMP. There are also plenty of photo editing apps.
Looking for more advanced tips? Try these three:
1. The rule of thirds. This basic principle of photography can help you crop your image so the pet’s eyes are in the field of the image most likely to draw attention. Learn more here.
2. Camera apps. You can add apps to your smartphone that give you much more control over the image. Camera+ is popular for the iPhone, while Android users might want to check out DSLR Camera Pro.
3. Lenses. Seriously — lenses for a smartphone camera? Yes, seriously. Easy to use and cheap, they can make a lot of difference in image quality. Try Amazon for a good basic selection.