I never had a dog when I was a kid, the unfenced backyard was not particularly friendly to pets that could escape. It didn't come as any surprise though when I found my calling as an adult as: The Dog Whisperer.
The plan was for the pet supply store Pet-O to use its brand power in the Sydney region to hold a fundraising event, or set of events, to support the Sydney Dogs and Cats Home. This included encouraging existing customers to come to one of the Sydney stores for a printed of their favourite furry friend with Santa.
Have you ever tried to photograph 100 dogs in a day?
I hadn't, but I gave it a red hot go. We started with a test day, investigating a few different items regarding the potential issues on the day:
Will the photos be good enough to justify the donation?
Is it possible to run all stores simultaneously?
Will digital retrieval of photos be easy enough for customers?
On our test day we did just over 200 images in 4 hours with around 50 different dogs. It also happened to be halloween so customers had a great excuse to come make the most of our test bed.
How many dogs fit in a photo?
Dogs are about 5-50kg and 10-100cm tall. They come alone, in groups of many and often with owners who wanted to be part of the photos too. It took a few too many shots to get the best outcome and brings to mind something they say in Hollywood about working with kids and animals.
Not Good -> Better -> Okay
Our final solution meant moving the booth about 2m back, zooming in enough to tighten the frame and elevate all dogs onto a bench so they were the same height as their human. Perfecto.
Even dogs can be scared of Santa
Getting the dogs' attention was generally pretty easy, a liver treat or kangaroo treat was all it took to get them looking. The real problem came with the dogs who were as scared of Santa as any other 2 year old. I had tricks to get the pets up and into the photos but sometimes there is nothing that can be done.
Finally some good boys!
And for those that feel like they're furry friends are more people than puppy...
All in all we did just under 1000 donations and photo prints. All the pet owners loved the setup and that they got their prints delivered in 10 seconds, ready to hang on the fridge or include in their 2018 Christmas cards. Digital files were delivered by social kiosk sharing stations so every group got their special images in high resolution for sharing and re-printing.
Importantly for Pet-O, the video we produced to help spruik the event a little got over 5000 organic views or facebook which was multiplied by the comments, likes and shares from the interested pet owners. This was an event not to be missed and while it was much bigger than the previous year, next year will be even bigger!