The Humane Society of Utah has a unique approach when it comes to getting their pets adopted: They turn to a photography studio. Guinnevere Shuster is the woman behind the camera for these amazing shots.
HLN : How did you come up with the idea for the pictures?
Guinnevere Shuster : I’ve been photographing shelter dogs for over three years, I really wanted their personalities to stick out on Facebook and Instagram. What better way than up close and personal like you’re looking at your best friend. When people scrolled through their newsfeed, I wanted the animal’s pics to stand out and not be another sad dog behind a metal cage pic. Shelter dogs have great personalities -- that’s what I wanted the pictures to convey. I pick the four best, most unique shots and compile them into one.
HLN : How do you get the dogs to sit still long enough for their portraits?
Shuster: Lots of treats! We’re not talking the dried-out crunchy dog bones, I save the best stinky, moist treats for the photo shoots. I let the dog spend a few minutes in the studio getting comfortable, I make it fun for them and -- nine times out of 10 -- I don’t have any problem getting them to sit still and start posing for me.
HLN: How do you pick the dogs? What do you look for?
Guinnevere Shuster: I photograph as many dogs as I can at the Humane Society of Utah for their website, social media and occasionally for events. If time permitted, they would all get photos like these. I try and vary the dogs by type, age, etc. Any dogs that could use a little extra exposure to help them find a home I'll try to include in this series.
HLN : How many do you shoot a week?
Guinnevere Shuster: I photograph about 30 or so shelter dogs in the studio each week and do 1-2 of the Photobooth edits a week, more if time allows for it.
HLN: How has the campaign been received?
Guinnevere Shuster: I’d say pretty well, most of the Photobooth pics we post on the Humane Society of Utah’s Facebook page get over a 1,000 likes, hundreds of shares and lots of comments. Most importantly though, they all get adopted! Getting people to view shelter dogs in a positive light is what this is all about. While they may not adopt the animal featured, if it gets them to come down and check out the shelter, they’re likely to adopt.
HLN: What do your friends and family say about the pics?
Guinnevere Shuster: My mom loves them; I think she’s liked every shelter dog photo of mine that’s been posted on Facebook! I receive a great deal of support and praise from family and friends.
HLN: What’s next?
Guinnevere Shuster: More shelter dog photos! And continuing to use photography to show shelter animals in a positive light! I’d also love to work with other organizations and pass on what I what I’ve learned to assist others in how to better showcase their shelter animals with photography.