Batman is great, but let’s get one thing straight. You can bet Gotham would have stayed a big, scary mess a little longer if Robin hadn’t been tagging along for the ride. And is peanut butter truly as fantastic alone as it is with chocolate? Or jelly? Every Asterix needs their Obelix, and every Shaggy knows how important their Scooby is. What the faithful sidekick may lack in bravado, they make up for by quietly serving as the brains of the operation; the unfaltering support system that even tough-as-nails heroes need to succeed.

We consider ourselves lucky to have met countless shelter superheroes over the years. Those devoted volunteers and employees working tirelessly on the front lines of animal welfare, getting their hands and hearts dirty in the name of saving lives. They inhabit every facet of the day-to-day running of shelters across the world, and no job is too big or too small if it contributes to even one homeless pet finding their happily-ever-after. Needless to say, it requires a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.

HeARTs Speak members, a unique breed of super hero, cover a lot of ground; 42 states and 13 countries to be exact. But despite our rapid growth, the demand for professional artists, authors, and photographers still outweighs the supply. Our Perfect Exposure Project, first launched in 2013 at NYC Animal Care & Control and Animal Care & Control Team of Philadelphia, aims to fill the gaps by giving shelter staff and volunteers the tools and knowledge needed to arm animals with the dazzling first impression their lives depend on.

The cherry on top of each workshop was the ‘Shelter Photography Field Guide’; a 44-page go-to manual that handily summarizes everything taught throughout the Perfect Exposure Project. It’s jam-packed with photography tips, social media and marketing ideas, post-processing wisdom, and big-picture inspiration. And it’s the new shelter sidekick.

We’re delighted to announce that starting in January of 2015, the HeARTs Speak Shelter Photography Field Guide will be available for purchase as a stand-alone resource for shelters and rescue groups to improve their imagery and promotion of adoptable animals. Furthermore, as part of our Shine A Light on Shelter Pets fundraising campaign (our first ever!), for every $250 donation, we’ll gift a printed and bound copy of the Field Guide to the shelter of the donors choice.

So, let’s get to the good part! What’s in the guide? Here’s a sneak peek:


We cover everything you need to know to get great photos of your adoptables, regardless of the environment you have to work in.

  • Learn which camera settings get the best results in both natural and studio light.
  • Learn how aperture and depth of field can work together to help you blur a cluttered background.
  • Get tricks for capturing crystal clear action shots.
  • Curious how to manage focus points so your subject’s eyes sing? We have a whole page devoted to that.
  • Not sure which lens is the best for each type of photograph? We melt zoom and prime lenses down into something photographers of any experience level can grasp, complete with visual examples.


Putting some finishing touches on your images can elevate them from moderately eye-catching to adoption-scoring with just a few minor tweaks.

  • Why is cropping important and what constitutes a great crop?
  • Learn how a simple exposure adjustment can give you the extra light you didn’t get in the field.
  • So long leashes: learn how to edit out leashes or other cosmetic issues that can serve to distract adopters from an emotional connection.
  • Get tips for paring down your images to the cream of the crop.


Knowing how to effectively channel your enthusiasm for an animal you’re caring for can be an invaluable tool in the search for a forever home. The details you focus on and the vibe you maintain can influence both the quality and frequency of adoptions.

  • Learn why positivity is the best approach (we’ve done a lot of research on this one!)
  • Get tips for selecting the best pieces of a pet’s history to focus on and learn how to word the not-so-great stuff.
  • Learn how to infuse humor, write a bio from a fresh, exciting perspective, and employ the power of words to further push the awesome photo you’ve taken!

We hope you’re ready to dig into this treasure trove of tips, tricks, and how-to’s. Stay tuned for more information on how to acquire the Field Guide, and if you’d like to support our mission to bring the Perfect Exposure Project to more shelters in 2015, please visit our fundraiser. Together we can make sure no animal goes unseen!

* July, 2015 UPDATE – You may now CLICK HERE to purchase!

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!