The importance of good pictures of your pet

If you’ve ever had a pet go missing, you might understand what I’m talking about.  If not, let me share with you the reason why it’s so important to have good pet pictures.  I’m not talking about the cute ones where they are sleeping or 1/2 a mile away from the camera or hiding behind the curtains, I’m talking well-lit, in the daylight, full body shots.  The kind that you can put on posters if you ever have a pet go missing.

How I learned the hard way

If you’re like me, you never expect one of your pets to go missing.  Why would they?  They have the perfect life!  Sadly, I’ve had it happen a few times now, and there is no worse feeling than being worried about finding your pet, only to discover as you look through picture after picture of your cat or dog in a pose that doesn’t really show their face, body, unique markings, etc., etc.   When our cat Stormy went missing, I had tons of pictures like this:

And while adorable and accurate in its depiction of how he usually slept, they weren’t helpful at all in putting on a poster or posting on Craig’s List or showing neighbors what he looked like when he disappeared one day.  It was kind of embarrassing having to piece together two or three pictures to show almost what he looked like.

Making sure pictures are current

In my particular case with Stormy, he was only a little over a year old when he disappeared, so pictures I’d taken just a month or two prior, didn’t really reflect how he looked at the time he disappeared since he was growing so fast and still developing his color.  After looking through many, many photos, we finally came up with this one….

It’s small, grainy, and was taken two months prior to Stormy’s disappearance with Will’s cell phone one night in the garage as Stormy relaxed on top of Will’s car.  Because we don’t spend hundreds of dollars on cell phones, the picture quality at best is ok, but snapping photos in a darkened garage only gets you a relative idea of what Stormy looked like.

In order to even use this picture, I had to use my computer’s publisher program to lighten it a little bit so you could make Stormy out better.  Even doctored as it was, it still didn’t really seem to do him justice and made me sad that if he didn’t come back, this would be one of the last, best pictures we had of him.

How to keep from permanently losing pictures

Keep in mind, however, that pictures are only as good as the device they are stored on.  Over the years, I’ve lost many, many pictures when my computers suddenly died and the backup service I was using turned out to be a joke.  Twice.  So here are some tips to make sure your pictures aren’t lost forever:

  • Print them out.  You don’t have to print out all 2,149 of them, just the top 10 or 20 or whatever your budget can afford on photo paper or a digital photo print service.
  • Save your backups to an external hard drive or flash drive, like this one
  • E-mail the pictures to yourself (or your spouse, kids, significant other, etc.) and put them in a folder titled ‘Pet Pictures’ or similar.  You’ll not only have the copy you received, you’ll also have the ‘Sent’ e-mail containing the picture.  You can use your ‘Search’ feature to look up the e-mails by your pet’s name or from your own e-mail.  Note:  While I’m assuming this works with all e-mail providers, I only use Outlook/Hotmail, so you should double check how your e-mail works to make sure this will work for you and whatever e-mail program you use.

Getting the perfect picture

When trying to get that perfect picture of your pet, I recommend taking your pet’s picture outdoors, if possible, where the lighting is natural and will truly reflect the color of your pet.  About an hour before sunset seems to be one of the best times for that.  I have also found that it is much easier to have help and to use toys and/or treats to get the pet’s attention.

While trying to get your perfect pet picture, be patient and be prepared to have to take several photos or be out there for a while.  You will have to deal with blinking, tail wagging, last minute head turning, sneezing, boredom and other things as you try to snap that perfect moment.

The reward for all that time and patience will be worth it though, as you’ll have a great shot of your pet and peace of mind knowing that if your pet ever gets lost, you’ll have a great photo of them to use in your search to get them back.  You’ll also have a great shot of them for your memories, which speaking from experience, is worth a lot.



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2 thoughts on “The importance of good pictures of your pet

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