At the center of the HeARTs Speak mission lies a simple philosophy: that collaboration is the most effective strategy for improving the lives of companion animals. Our organization unites hundreds of professional artists worldwide who live and work by this philosophy, and in the U.S. alone our members assist over one third of animal welfare groups. As a vehicle for expanding our reach even further and to supplement these artists’ incredible work, we created the Perfect Exposure Project.
Serving as a fresh, innovative approach to pet promotion, the Perfect Exposure Project is concentrated collaboration. We arm open-admission shelters with professional photography equipment and an immersive 2-day workshop during which shelter staff and volunteers learn to take eye-catching photos of their adoptable pets, and then promote them via creative bios and effective social media use.
Thanks to the generosity of sponsors including Petco Foundation, Petfinder, Animal Farm Foundation, and the kind supporters who contributed to last year’s fundraising campaign, we brought the Perfect Exposure Project to four U.S. shelters in 2015: KC Pet Project in MO, Humane Society of Yuma in AZ, Palm Springs Animal Shelter in CA, and Manatee County Animal Services in FL.
Here’s a look at each workshop:
KC Pet Project
It’s obvious the moment you walk in the front door that KC Pet Project is a special organization. Their loyal and dedicated staff work tirelessly to meet the needs of the animal residents on a daily basis. But above and beyond that, they’re smart, creative, and constantly identifying innovative ways to make the best use of the resources available to them. The shelter as a whole is thoughtfully arranged and their liberal use of professional graphic designers, photographers, and artists is very apparent as you stroll the facility.
We hit the ground running with a highly motivated group of attendees comprised of both shelter staff and volunteers — even the Executive Director, Teresa. Everyone rolled up their sleeves, picked up their cameras, and the furry models started rolling in.
Day 1 began with studio photography, and featured an adoptable chicken by the name of Beatrice who inspired a fantastic series of magazine cover-style images. Day 2 covered effective use of social media, creative bio writing, and capturing great photos outside in natural light. The discussion was plentiful, the photographs were beautiful, and we each left with a renewed sense of motivation and hope for Kansas City’s homeless pets.
“Our group can’t stop talking about how much fun they had and how much they learned throughout the workshop. We’re putting new guidelines and policies in place thanks to what you taught us and can’t wait to get our studio set up for good.” — Tori, Director of Marketing & Development, KC Pet Project
Humane Society of Yuma
Humane Society of Yuma welcomes approximately 8,500 animals through their doors per year, while also juggling a successful public clinic, food pantry program for community animals in need, and an adorable thrift store.
As the primary open-admission animal control and adoption facility in their area, staff and volunteers are no strangers to getting creative with marketing!
Each attendee grabbed the workshop with both hands and squeezed as much knowledge out as they could. This vibrant bunch were not afraid to try new ideas for settings, test different angles for portraits, and brainstorm as a team to create engaging bios for the pets as they photographed them.
One workshop model in particular, Clark Gable, grabbed the hearts of our Perfect Exposure Project team, and earned his name for his Hollywood good looks during the workshop. Happily, Clark was adopted soon after our visit.
“I left the workshop feeling renewed and ready to get back to photographing the animals in new and fun ways.” — Karen, Humane Society of Yuma volunteer
PALM SPRINGS ANIMAL SHELTER
Nestled in the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs Animal Shelter sits at the foot of a stunning backdrop of sprawling blue sky and bold mountains.
Needless to say, their staff and volunteers are equally as spirited as their surroundings, and the workshop started with a bang! Every attendee was excited to jump in and learn a new role, and before long they were expertly utilizing the muse/photographer/handler method we teach.
One of the most heartwarming parts of the workshop for our Perfect Exposure Project team is meeting dedicated individuals who will try anything to help a pet find a loving home. The Palm Springs Animal Shelter group wasted no time putting the new social media tactics they’d learned into action, and we’ve loved seeing the results on their Facebook page!
And if anyone needs proof that HeARTs Speak artists are also not immune to the charms of shelter pets, one of our instructors, Geoff, fell head over heels for a little kitten who provided his modeling services during the workshop. Geoff fell so hard, in fact, that he named his new friend Batman, adopted him officially, and took him back home to New York after the workshop! Batman now spends his days riding on Geoff’s shoulder and enjoying all that family life has to offer.
“I am 64 years young and for the first time I am no longer afraid to pick up a camera. The workshop gave me new ways to help as a shelter volunteer.” — Edie, Palm Springs Animal Shelter volunteer
MANATEE COUNTY ANIMAL SERVICES
Following the west coast tour, our Perfect Exposure team ventured south to Florida for the final workshop of 2015. The shining sun greeted us, and we greeted a motivated and varied group of staff and volunteers ready to dive in to a weekend of learning!
Manatee County Animal Services is a pillar in its community, housing and facilitating the adoption hundreds of dogs and cats each month. Our workshop brought shelter staff, Picture Them Adopted photographers and handlers, and new and longtime shelter volunteers.
We were spoiled for choice when it came to natural light backgrounds at this particular facility, which is painted a vibrant blue color and surrounded by Florida greenery. The group also excelled in the studio photography portion of the workshop, using props in creative ways, and quickly turning their portraits into fun marketing pieces for social media.
“I seriously cannot thank you enough for you time, knowledge, compassion, patience, humor, and love for us and all of the animals in the shelters that you help daily. Your enthusiasm shines brightly and spreads quickly. Thank you so very much!” — Cindy, Manatee County Animal Services volunteer
We believe knowledge is for sharing, and hope you’ll join our mission to bring this lifesaving workshop to more open-admission shelters in 2016. Every pet deserves their 15 minutes of fame, and by expanding our collective reach, we can save the lives of more shelter pets!