Senior pets play huge roles in our lives and families. Here’s how to show off their most lovable qualities in your photography.
Senior pets know the ropes. They’re housebroken and independent, soulful and wise. Although they may savor an extended afternoon nap, they’re still up for the adventures life throws their way. Many of us have witnessed a pet gracefully age and collect gray hairs. Still, there are thousands of senior pets in need of loving homes.
In honor of Adopt a Senior Pet Month, Shutterstock has teamed up with Best Friends Animal Society. This national non-profit works with more than 3,300 animal welfare organizations across the country to save the lives of shelter animals and give them a second chance.
Getting senior pets out of shelters and into happy homes is core to Best Friends’ mission. Together, we’ll discuss how precious aging pets can be incorporated into photography, to show the world what great companions they make.
Let’s dive into tips for highlighting happy smiles and silver hairs, with insights from Best Friends’ pet photographer Lori Fusaro. And, along the way, let’s help a few old souls find their forever homes.
Focus on Unique Features
An animal can be considered a “senior” at a variety of ages. Large dogs hit the senior mark sooner than small ones. Cats tend to be considered seniors around age 11. In fact, many shelters take special consideration of seniors. Shelter pets tend to be labeled as “seniors” at just age five. And, senior-aged humans often get discounted or fee-waived adoptions on senior pets.
No matter where a pet fits within the “senior” spectrum, they’ll have acquired beautiful features and indicators of their age. We suggest making those features the focus of your photos.
For inspiration, think about your own pet’s unique characteristics. What aspects about them that make you happy? Do you smile at the thought of your cat’s big furry belly? Do you find yourself smirking when thinking about your dog’s white eyelashes? The physical features that capture your heart will capture the hearts of others.
Similar to portrait photography of people, pictures of pets can—and should—showcase their own special qualities. Best Friends suggests showing them off by:
- Zoom in on playful white paws
- Capture a pet curled up mid-cat nap
- Showing off a happy smile and pink tongue
- Get a close-up of wiry hair and wrinkles
A Pet’s Personality Is Powerful
Whether you’re taking a photo of your own pet or searching for one to include in your next campaign, showcasing their charisma is key. Animals do have their own unique personalities, of course. Sometimes that personality can come out in front of a camera.
Pay attention to the activities that make pets their happiest. Does your dog love to play fetch? Do your cats love to climb?
By choosing photos, or directing your photography around the activities that makes an animal happy, you’re guaranteeing that happiness will show up in pictures.
These little moments of joy will stir up emotion, excitement, or even memories in your audience, and connect with them even further.
Make Sure They’re at Ease
If you’re taking photos of a senior pet, Best Friends’ photographer Fusaro says to prioritize their comfort. She suggests letting them sniff your camera. She even suggests pushing the shutter button a few times and aiming the camera in their direction before a shoot begins.
The funny thing about pet photography is that animals are the real creative directors. Photographers need to be patient and let them lead the way. By ensuring an animal’s comfort and moving at their pace, you’ll end up with better photos in the end.
Pick Their Best Setting
Choosing photos in the right physical locations goes a long way, too. Best Friends suggests that, especially when shooting your own photography, you need to pay special attention to your surroundings and background.
Simple environments are key to making a senior pet stand out. Green grass or sandy beaches can really make a pet pop out of a photo. Blurred backgrounds help with this, too.
If you want to focus on an animal’s details, they suggest staying away from busy items, such as ornate blankets or throws. Sometimes, patterns and bold colors can take away from a cute face.
Show How Much Love They Have to Give
Many people want to adopt younger animals, but welcoming a senior pet into your home has so many benefits. Best Friends says that there tend to be some fears and stigmas around adopting older animals, but the benefits outweigh them.
For instance, some pets may be active well into their older years. If a senior dog is still up for hikes well into his teenage years, he might be able to handle them. Photography shouldn’t shy away from showing off the versatility and energy senior pets bring to families and individuals.
Beyond keeping active, though, the greatest benefit any pet brings is their ability to love. No matter how full—or challenging—an animal’s life has been, they still have love to give. Their emotional support is palpable, especially in photography.
It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. When that picture is of a senior pet, it can highlight the thousands of tender, loving moments they will bring you, no matter how many years are behind them—or ahead of them.
Help a Senior Pet Today
Whether you’re looking to give a senior pet a home, or just looking to help, Best Friends can put you in touch with local shelters in your area. To learn more about adopting or fostering a cat or dog, click here.
You can also make a donation to help pets of all ages across the United States. Donate today.
Cover image via Shutterstock’s Adopt a Senior Pet Month Collection.