Could Good Photography Make All the Difference for You?

Today at Shelter’s Edge, the blog by ASPCApro (for animal sheltering professionals and volunteers), they ask, “Can we save more lives simply by taking better pictures?

ASPCApro is considering whether or not to do formal research on this question, but the anecdotal evidence is pretty striking. Show us cute, in-focus photos of cats and dogs and they are more likely to get adopted than when we see out of focus, poorly posed photos of the very same animals.  CBS News recently did a story about this very phenomena. (Watch it here if you don’t see the player below).


After watching the amazing transformations that these animals seem to undergo simply by having a skilled photographer in the room, it makes you wonder: What other causes are missing huge opportunities to connect simply because they don’t have good photography? What difference would good photography make in your nonprofit’s marketing strategy?

Please share your thoughts in the comments . . . I’m sure this isn’t limited to animal organizations!

Full Disclosure: ASPCApro is a consulting client, but truth be told, I loved their blog way before they hired me to help with their content strategy! It’s a model example of how to blog for other professionals in your field.

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  • Jen

    In our art museum, we have plenty of beautiful objects and plenty of darn good pictures of them. They are great for showing our collections, but when I am making a presentation or talking with a donor they don’t tell the story of our organization. For that we need people shots and good ones showing folks engaged with an object or activity to make that connection. A skilled photographer alone can’t tell the organization’s story or make people care, but a skilled photographer who is able to capture the mission of an organization in a few frames makes the story telling a cinch.

  • Anonymous

    Pictures are the number one feature on Facebook for a reason. Without photos to tell a story writing must be superior to get the message across.  Pictures can help a  lot of nonprofits overcome mediocre to good writing without hiring a David Ogilvy.

  • Nonprofit Spark

    Great photos are very powerful and undervalued by nonprofits. makes an excellent case for photographic storytelling. I did an interview with a staffer reviewing images of an orphanage in Transylvania. Check out their site but also, listen to that interview about 20 minutes into the show. Beautiful example of storytelling with images.

  • Good point Kivi. I’m realizing more and more that while the commercial world has long seen the value of great photography, it’s a rarely considered function at most nonprofits.

  • Paul B

    As a photographer these results in the CBS item should not surprise me but they do.  I am not a pet photographer but I know a good dog or cat photo from a poor one.  I agree with Teresa about the benefits of her pictures and as a dog lover I would be only too keen to help out a local shelter, better that than a dog or cat should be put down because of their image behind bars.

  • Gregory Heller

    While looking for a cat to adopt, I was thinking this same thing “all these photos are so terrible!” And while a professional goes along way, I am sure that shelters themselves could be taught how to improve adoption photos with a series of web videos, and some print materials.