Helen Woodward Animal Center Superhero Sidekick Calendar Contest –

RANCHO RANTA FE (KUSI) – In the world of Instagram, Facebook and social bluster, our pets can be our greatest asset. Every day, Helen Woodward Animal Center relies on great photos to get pets adopted.

Jessica Gercke, director of public relations for the Helen Woodward Animal Center, with an orphaned pup, joined Good Morning San Diego to share some important tips on taking photos to get the most likes on photos of your fur babies.

Use natural light
You don’t necessarily have to worry about flashes and complicated lighting setups when taking pictures of pets. The best option is to use natural, continuous light that won’t startle them or cause red-eye in your images. Whether you’re using ambient or studio lights, the general rule is to go for bright, diffused light which will help create more flattering portraits.
If you’re shooting outdoors, overcast days are often the best to provide even, diffused lighting. Sunny days present more challenges for photo shoots than overcast days, so if it’s cloudy, don’t worry.

Shoot where they are comfortable
The most basic goal of pet photography is to capture the character and personality of your best friend. You’re less likely to get this if they’re in an unfamiliar location, like a studio. Head to a park or your backyard and let your pet relax and unwind. This should help them feel and look more comfortable in front of the camera.

Get down to their level
Everyone is used to seeing pets from above, so photos from this angle may not be as striking. For best results, film them in their world, from below. Depending on your pet’s breed, you may need to squat with your camera or lie on your stomach just to level the camera with your pooch. The goal is to take pictures at their eye level or even lower, where you can get the best view of their expressions.

Get their attention
Getting a pet’s attention is one of the most important skills to develop when photographing furry friends. If you want to immobilize them, try this simple trick: let them play quietly and, once you’re ready with the camera pointed and your finger on the shutter, call your pet’s attention. Click the shutter the second they look your way and you can capture them with their full attention on you and your camera.

Once you get their attention, you might be able to take a few easy shots of them sitting still. Be careful not to make any sudden movements as this will likely cause them to jump up and follow you. Move slowly and avoid eye contact when changing positions or reaching for a prop. If they start to move or play, keep firing in burst mode for the best chance of landing a good action shot!

Focus on the eyes
You may want to monitor and capture that perfect moment for a pup’s eyes whether or not he is looking directly at your camera. The expression and personality in the eyes will always result in more appealing animal photos.

Capture their character
Even better than a nice close-up of your pet is a photo of them that conveys their character. If your pet is the playful type, you should definitely include a photo of him in action in your proposed shot list. If the animal likes to lounge, take a picture of him yawning while lying in his favorite bed. These precious photos will definitely be forever!

Be patient
Pets obviously cannot follow specific instructions unless they are trained by a professional. At the same time, they are known to absorb human energy, so if you end up feeling stressed or frustrated, they will sense it and start reflecting your feelings.

The worst thing you can do is to raise your voice and repeatedly command them to do certain things, as this will only confuse or scare your pet. If they stay still, you’ll get pictures of them with flat ears and worried eyes that don’t look good on camera. Remember that they can feel what you feel, so the more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to get a good shot. It’s worth remembering that you can fix many small issues in Lightroom and Photoshop. Focus on the dog having a good time during their session and don’t worry about little issues like drool or dirt that you can fix later.

Reward your pet
Don’t forget to pay for your model! Throughout the shoot, give them something they really like to keep them motivated and cooperative. The reward is up to you, and it can be anything from treats and toys to belly massages and other forms of affection. Treats can even double as bait, props, or tools that can help warm your pet up for the camera. Use rewards to make filming more fun and enjoyable, as it should be!

When you get a great photo, you can enter the Helen Woodward Animal Center’s 2022 Superhero Sidekick Calendar Contest and support orphaned animals!

The animal with the most votes will be the official “Superhero Sidekick” of the Helen Woodward Animal Center and will receive the following prizes:
• A full-page feature in the Helen Woodward Animal Center 2022 Calendar
• a guest seat on the 2022 Surf Dog Costume Contest Jury
• 2 silver tickets for the Spring Fling Gala 2022
Additionally, 1st and 2nd place finalists will receive prizes. The 12 pets with the most votes will also get a full page in the 2022 Helen Woodward Animal Center Calendar.
All other entries will appear in photo montage squares throughout the timeline.

Photo submissions and votes require a minimum tax-deductible donation to support orphaned pets and Helen Woodward Animal Center programs. Please see the contest rules for more information.

For more information on the Superhero Sidekicks Calendar, visit www.animalcenter.org or https://www.gogophotocontest.com/helenwoodwardanimalcenter.

Benjamin M. Yerger