Coaxing The Best From Our
By Bernie Lofaso
● Challenges To Good Photography
● Equipment Selection
● Shooting Techniques
● After The Shoot
● Inspiration came from One Picture Saves a Life
presentation. (Seth Casteel – Nov. 2013)
● Main premise is that a single good photo of a
shelter animal can generate the interest to get it
adopted and hence it's life saved.
● Presentation assertions include:
– Present animal in a happy relaxed environment
– A face shot capturing expression is “the money
Goals of a Good Photograph
● Composition – at least one close-up face shot
exhibiting “character”. At least one full-body
shot to give a feel for cat's size and markings.
● Image quality
– Good focus, particularly facial features
– No blur from camera movement or animal
● Present a cheerful cat and in a happy
Challenges To Good Photography
● Poor lighting
● Subject motion
● Confined spaces (photographer and subject)
● A range of camera types are available
– Cell phone cameras
– “Point and shoot” pocket cameras
– DSLR cameras
– Mirror-less cameras
– Other changeable-lens cameras
● See addendum for justification for using DSLR
(large-sensor type) camera.
Use What You Have
● A cat in foster without photos is not “in the
● A cat in facility without photos is not fully
● Realize the correct equipment takes it “to the
● Recruit volunteers with good equipment and
train ALL photographers in best practices.
Flash is Evil
● Flash gives uneven lighting that drops off
quickly beyond the foreground object
● Cats seldom pose and never wait for flash to
● Causes strange eye colors or closed eyes
● Takes external equipment to do well
● Small external lights often help
● Use continuous focus mode if available
● Turn off “lighting optimizer” modes
● Turn on highlight preserving mode if available
● Use large image size, JPEG quality normal
● Camera's printed manual often incomplete –
download PDF from manufacturer
● ALWAYS bring pencil & paper for cat names
● Bring a stick toy, treats, catnip
● Shoot with someone – cat wrangler
● Where appropriate clothing go to get down to
eye level with a cat
● Avoid compositions with cage bars
● Shoot ~6-12 photos per cat. More if active.
● Often difficult to tell how cooperative a cat will
be, so shoot in worst conditions first, then move
(hopefully) to better conditions.
1) Shoot in cage (laying, sitting, standing)
2) Holding (cat wrangler required), over shoulder
3) Roaming in group cage or “meet and greet”
Running A Special Event Shoot
● “Special Event” might be monthly shoot for
fosters, or themed event for promotions.
● Use backdrop and table. Corners may make cat
feel safer and keep from wandering.
● Let kitty “decompress” before shoving a camera
in his/her face. Brush/groom time.
● Multiple tables if ringworm kitties shot.
● Can shoot multiple photographers per table if
one or more use telephoto lenses.
● Photo editing software
– PhotoShop and PhotoShop Elements preferred.
– Picasa, Gimp, IrfanView, Pixlr (Chrome
browser) or Snapseed (iPad) may prove
● Don't let Photoshop products intimidate – only
about 12 functions used commonly
● Noise-removal plug-in often valuable
● Select three images per cat for processing
● Cropping is the single most important function
– Focuses attention and reduces distracting
– Crop to cat or cat's face - maximize “cat pixels.”
– Body shots often have enough pixels to be
cropped down to face shots.
● Limit image height to 1000 pixels. PetPoint
resizes to 360x240 (0.08 MP)
● Perform post-mortem analysis of poor photos.
Want to know what might have gone wrong so
mistake isn't duplicated on next shoot.
– Incorrect camera setting
– Camera shake
– Unexpected cat movement
– Too close to cat. Each lens has a minimum
● Camera body and kit zoom lens - $400-500
● Second “fast” lens - $100 >
● Backup battery - $15
● Carrying case - $30 >
● Memory card - $20
● Photoshop Elements - $60
Don't listen to Qtila … shoot lots!!!