A good photo can bring adopters to your pets, professionalize your image and give you plenty of great material for social media pages and your website. Hopefully, the advice in our Pet Photography section has helped give you the tips and confidence to do this yourself. But for some people the time or resources to do that just aren’t there, and even if they are it never hurts to have expert help from time to time. Here are tips on how to seek out professional photographers and expert volunteers.
Before seeking out a volunteer:
- Know what you want. Although a volunteer photographer can help determine the best direction to go with your photos, you will want a good idea of what you’re looking for. Do you want headshots for your pets? Do you want them photographed outdoors? You’ll want to make sure you can give direction to the photographer so they know what to do.
- Have someone available to help. Be prepared to have someone from your staff, another volunteer or yourself available to help. Your team will know your animals better and can assist in the safe handling of them, leaving the photographer free to focus on taking photos.
- Consider making a photo release form. If you already have your volunteers sign a waiver, it may be good to attach a photo release that states that you are allowed to use images taken of your pets as needed for your shelter or rescue.
How to find volunteers:
- Talk to your current volunteers. You may have a good photographer or friend of one volunteering already. Maybe they’re just waiting to be asked or don’t have any idea how important having a photographer would be for your organization.
- Place an ad online. Sites like Volunteer Match, Idealist and Craigslist are good places to start. You can search for photographers looking to volunteer or place an ad yourself.
- Contact nearby universities and colleges. If a school in your area has a photography department, find out who you can contact there to spread the word. Students are looking for experience and practice and can bring their skills to you.
- Find photography groups near you. Sites like Meetup.com can help you find groups in your area. Reach out to them and offer a few hours you can open your rescue up to them. They will be looking for new subjects to photograph and your pets are the perfect models.
When you have a photographer:
- Location, location, location. Where can they shoot? Do you have an outdoor location for photographing dogs? What about a room with good natural light for the cats? Are you having an adoption event where the photographer can take photos of the pets with people?
- A photo can do more than just promote one pet. Good photos can be used for so much more. Get photos you can use on social media and your website, as well as photos for printing future flyers, advertisements and upcoming promotions!
- Postproduction help. Do you need help editing and uploading these photos or will your photography volunteer be doing that as well? Do you want to add a watermark identifying your organization?
- A little appreciation goes a long way. To your volunteer photographer, they may just feel like they’re taking pictures, but let them know just how much their help means to you and the animals. Keep them updated on adoption stories if their photos played a role and, if they are trying to build a business, be sure to recommend them when appropriate for paying gigs. Making the experience a mutually respectful, positive and rewarding one will encourage return volunteers!