Back to Basics Shelter Photography 101 for Everyone!

A quality photograph has the power to form a connection that can change a life. It’s a little theory we’ve lived and grown by here at HeARTs Speak since our inception, and it’s helped us unite a global community of creative professionals who believe the same! It’s also the foundation for our Perfect Exposure Project — a hands-on workshop that empowers animal shelter staff and volunteers with tools to help them promote the animals in their care more effectively.

Both of those programs are further fueled by our belief that knowledge is for sharing, and that through collaboration and teamwork we can truly create a world where no shelter animal goes unseen! It’s in that spirit, that we’ve condensed the DSLR and point-and-shoot photography section of our Perfect Exposure Project curriculum into a handy dandy, 3-part downloadable series — so anyone with a desire to help shelter pets can improve their skill set and get great adoption portraits in any environment!

All three installments are available totally free in our (growing) downloads library! Or click the links below:

The 3 Stooges. Charlie’s Angels. Rock, paper, scissors. History is full of awesome trios, but our favorite is the exposure dream team, more formally known as the exposure triangle. It’s the subtle interaction between aperture, ISO, and shutter speed and the first stop for a great photograph! If you’ve been happily snapping away in auto mode, today’s the day to nudge that dial to manual, take charge, and make some new magic happen.

In the first installment of our 3-part guide, learn how the exposure triangle works and get inspired by real-world examples and actionable tips for any environment.


Teamwork makes the dream work when it comes to efficiently and effectively photographing shelter pets! Because shelters and rescue environments can be unpredictable, busy places and personalities can vary greatly among adoptable models, we love this team setup solution to help you make the most of your time and resources. Grab another volunteer or two and try out the ‘muse + wrangler + photographer’ combo we teach during the Perfect Exposure Project.

Available as a digital infographic, with an accompanying printable flyer and cheat card you can hang and share!

And the cherry on top! How can we make any setting the perfect backdrop for an adoption portrait? As we become more comfortable in an environment — from play yards to offices, to cat rooms and dog kennels — it’s natural to overlook their potential as stellar locations for photos. But beauty lies waiting in unexpected places, and this installment covers how depth of field and a keen eye can work in tandem to help you get eye-catching photographs in any space!

Looking for more photography and marketing tips, tricks, and inspiration? We gotcha’ covered! Eye-catching photos go great with a memorable name. Then put it up on Instagram using these insider tricks, or make a fresh new Facebook cover photo.

BONUS! No DSLR camera? No problem! The best camera is the one you have on you, so if you’re a cell phone rock star, check out this free resource for a few tips to make the most of your tool!

Happy snapping!


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Hannah Pearman

Hannah, an unabashed guinea pig enthusiast, grammar fanatic, and cat video aficionado, is HeARTs Speak’s Director of Communications. She fearlessly welcomes the challenge of a character limit, and if she’s not whipping up blog posts and pitching stories, you’ll probably find her sipping Earl Grey tea and wondering what the weather is like today in her homeland of New Zealand.

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