The Perfect Exposure Project began as a seed of an idea back in 2013. It was planted by the realization that, while the HeARTs Speak community continues to welcome professional artists and photographers around the world with a passion for helping, sharing our collective knowledge can stretch our reach even further.
Serving as a fresh, innovative approach to pet promotion, the project arms open-admission shelters with professional cameras and studio lighting, and teaches shelter staff and volunteers how to use it through a comprehensive 2-day workshop. Attendees also learn tips and tricks for using social media effectively, and creative inspiration for bio writing and positive community outreach.
After a hugely successful inaugural round of workshops in 2013, courtesy of Barkbox’s Hugo Challenge, we couldn’t rest until we’d added more Perfect Exposure Projects to the calendar!
Last year we bravely embarked on our first and (so far) largest fundraising campaign to do just that. Thanks to a dedicated member base, generous donors including Animal Farm Foundation, Petco Foundation, and Petfinder, and supporters all over the world, we surpassed our goal by over $1,000. Our grand dream of bringing the Perfect Exposure Project to more shelters in 2015 was suddenly a reality!
After investigating all four corners of the country to select four shelters that could truly benefit from this type of creative workshop, our team of instructors and coordinators put their heads down and got to work preparing powerful presentations and amassing exciting swag for attendees. Included in that swag is the HeARTs Speak Shelter Photography Field Guide — the condensed version of the Perfect Exposure Project workshop and a handy guide full of tips, tricks, and inspiration.
The first stop on our 2015 leg was KC Pet Project in Kansas City, MO. As the primary animal welfare facility for the entire Kansas City area, KC Pet Project takes in 9,000+ animals a year. Despite this intimidating figure, they push adoption far past their four walls by working collaboratively with the local Animal Control and animal welfare organizations in MO and beyond.
It’s obvious the moment you walk in the front door that KC Pet Project is a special organization. Their loyal and dedicated staff work tirelessly to meet the needs of the animal residents on a daily basis. But above and beyond that, they’re smart, creative, and constantly identifying innovative ways to make the best use of the resources available to them. The shelter as a whole is thoughtfully arranged and their liberal use of professional graphic designers, photographers, and artists is very apparent as you stroll the facility.
We hit the ground running with a highly motivated group of attendees comprised of both shelter staff and volunteers — even the Executive Director, Teresa. Everyone rolled up their sleeves, picked up their cameras, and the furry models started rolling in.
Day 1 began with studio photography, and featured an adoptable chicken by the name of Beatrice who inspired a fantastic series of magazine cover-style images. Day 2 covered effective use of social media, creative bio writing, and capturing great photos outside in natural light. The discussion was plentiful, the photographs were beautiful, and we each left with a renewed sense of motivation and hope for Kansas City’s homeless pets.
And perhaps one of the most delightful aspects of a shelter photography workshop? Getting to know the amazing animals sitting pretty for their close-up! Our team is not ashamed to admit that we fell hard for a large number of sweet, funny, highly entertaining cats and dogs — some we still check in with to this day.
It’s been months since we visited KC Pet Project, but our team still reflects on how inspiring the workshop was. That’s primarily due to the staff and volunteer’s thirst for new ideas, which served as a solid foundation for what became a Perfect Exposure Project for the books. Meeting this enlightened and committed team sparked an infectious creative energy that we’ve carried through each of the workshops following.
As of mid-2015, HeARTs Speak artists are providing their professional skills, pro-bono to one third of the animal welfare organizations in the United States. The Perfect Exposure Project is our solution to reach the two thirds who are currently still in need of tools, resources, and inspiration for giving animals the first impression their lives depend on.
We hope you’ll join us again this year in our efforts to empower even more shelters through the Perfect Exposure Project! Please support our campaign to give more shelter pets their 15 minutes of fame.