The Perfect Exposure Project Goes Westward!



There’s something magical that happens when diverse organizations get together to problem-solve and learn. The Perfect Exposure Project (PEP) is a program that focuses on bringing together multiple organizations within a community in order to learn about maximizing resources, space, and relationships to help market adoptable animals and shelter programs more effectively.

This year, as in the past, none of this would be possible without program support from Purina and generous in-kind donations of backdrop, stand and studio lighting kits from Savage Universal. Each shelter also received an awesome donation of poop bags, bandanas, and blankets from the fun-loving folks at Earth Rated!

This year, the PEP program kicked off in the Bay Area in California and included stops at the San Francisco SPCA, Oakland Animal Services, and Hayward Animal Shelter. While diverse in their shelter sizes, resources, and missions, our experience at each organization was the same: We were welcomed by amazing staff and volunteers, went on a day-long journey of exploring shelter photography and marketing, and finished each workshop feeling inspired (and wanting to bring several animals home!)

We started our trip on Friday, July 28th at the SFSPCA. The San Francisco SPCA is located in the Mission District, where we were also lucky enough to meet some animals and staff from neighboring organization Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. The SPCA’s large, state-of-the-art building provided several locations inside and out for both classroom and hands-on learning, but the real crowned jewel of our photography workshop was using some of the amazing cat housing spaces, complete with their quintessential San Francisco themes, and brand new dog play yards to practice shooting in natural light.

On Saturday, the SFSPCA was kind enough to host a dedicated day-long marketing workshop, where we took a conversational approach to exploring everything from bio writing and positive marketing to social media best practices. This workshop brought in participants from each of the 3 host shelters as well as several other area rescues and shelters, and we left feeling inspired by the questions and ideas that were shared!

Oakland Animal Services was our host on Sunday, July 30th and immediately kicked off with colorful fun when we were met by amazing murals and a shelter filled with artwork. Throughout the day we had the good fortune to work with not only cats and dogs, but also bunnies and a bird named Pineapple, OAS’s mascot and spokes-bird! One of the highlights of this shelter’s space was a magical play yard space that featured an ivy-covered wall and an outdoor catio space that provided amazing enrichment and the chance to photograph cats outdoors (yay cats!).

We wrapped up this 4 day trip at Hayward Animal Services on Monday, July 31st. Like OAS, Hayward has an absolutely amazing mural gracing the front of their building, which gives their organization a welcoming feel (along with their office cat, Big Mike, who greeted us as we walked in the door!). The shelter has a strong volunteer core, including a youth program, and allowed us our first opportunity to work with junior PEP photographers! There were kittens galore at Hayward and we spend a good chunk of the afternoon learning to photograph them in the cages, using the amazing lights donated by Savage Universal to create professional looking portraits.

We’re not going to lie, this trip was soul-satisfying and inspirational at every turn. The PEP program provides us with some of our favorite experiences, watching and learning from organizations that range in population, resources, and missions, and one that allows us to stay connected to the needs of the animal sheltering community in all its diverse forms. We can’t wait until the next PEP: On the road, meeting new animal welfare heroes, and continually inspired by animals who capture our hearts and remind us why we do this work. It can’t come soon enough!


Check out some of the incredible photographs our participants were able to capture after just a few hours of training! Pretty amazing, huh?

Learn more about our Perfect Exposure Project, and stay tuned for upcoming 2017 workshop locations!

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Caitlin Quinn

Caitlin Quinn

Caitlin is passionate about working with shelters and rescues to reimagine the way they tell their stories and connect with new audiences. She has served in the animal welfare field since 2008 and early on had the honor of working closely with diverse organizations across the U.S. to maximize resources, redesign policies, and find life-changing marketing solutions. In 2015, she got her MPA with a concentration in nonprofit management and in 2021, she began teaching marketing + communications for the University of Florida Master of Veterinary Science, Concentration in Shelter Medicine program. She lives in NY with a petite brindle pit bull named Sally who owns her heart.