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Shelter Me Photography: Capturing Hearts Explainer Video



Myself / Lisa Winkler

The Problem

How can we use motion graphics through design narrative to help educate volunteer photographers at SMP?

Shelter Me Photography is a non-profit organization in Boulder, Colorado, that photograph shelter animal in need of adoption; however, unlike most shelter photographs, Shelter Me Photography will capture animals to change the way people view them through professional and compelling photographs. Shelter Me Photography
started after Hurricane Katrina when founder, Nanette Martin, went on search-and-rescue missions and saw many animals who had been left behind or abandoned, due to families not being able to take them along or having just been separated from their pet.


Since then Nanette has been gaining a huge need for her work throughout the nation, but the problem that she and her non-profit faces are there are not enough workers or volunteers to meet this demand. Nanette is usually the only photographer, and sometimes the only photo editor, on-site and there are thousands of shelters requesting for her help. She simply cannot do all this work alone and she needs to gain attraction to her non-profit to get volunteers willing to be photographers. The other obstacle my team and I faced besides trying to gain attention to Shelter Me Photography, is that Nanette did not have time to teach these incoming volunteers, meaning our piece needed to also have a self-taught requirement to them so new volunteers can be taught how to properly photograph shelter animals without Nanette's help.

Volunteer Photographers

Animal Enthusiast (Dogs especially)

Male or Female: 18-45


The target audience is meant to be photographers, animal and pet photographers who may or may not have considered photographing shelter animals. We also are targeting editors and volunteers who are avid animal lovers and want to help these animals become adopted in the very best and professional way, are looking to expand their volunteer work, and are ready to be motivated and inspired by Shelter Me Photography and what this organization does to help Shelter Pets.


Several of the competitors in the marketplace where Shelter Me Photography is located in, are all companies or non-profits working towards the same goal. The marketplace in which Shelter Me Photography is in is not highly competitive but rather organic as a whole. However, these competitors helped my group to see what other non-profits are doing in order to advertise and gain volunteers.


Initial Research: Online surveys directed to target audience.

After our preliminary research and interview with Nanette of Shelter Me Photography, we began our research process with digital surveys to figure who the target audience was and identify responses to thoughts on people wishing to work with non-profits like Shelter Me Photography.


For our initial research, we conducted an online survey which resulted in over 40 responses from users. Responses from the survey helped us to identify that our target audience was indeed very visual, which would benefit in future volunteers learning through these motion graphics tip videos. The survey also helped to validate that there is a need for improving shelter animal photography, from sad and depressing images to professional and happier images. Some of our audience was more skilled with cameras and photography than others, thus providing more advanced feedback about the photography process itself rather than simple imagery for this project.

These survey responses also helped us to re-establish the importance of proper photography of shelter animals, as another problem/need within this ecosystem. This problem is a constant problem across many brands and is not just a problem for Shelter Me Photography, but our brand is helping to solve this problem.





Are beginner photographers

Never taken a workshop or class on photography at all

Say photography makes in impact

Say they volunteer sometimes in their spare time

Results: Out target audience changed to Intermediate photographers who had time to volunteer and were animal lovers. The age group also grew older from 25-55 years old. 

We eventually compiled all of our survey results into categories and sections in order to begin to understand who our target audience is and how they might be changing based on survey responses. After our interview with Nanette with Shelter Me Photography, and some initial interviews with shelters, we began to realize that our target audience was different than originally anticipated. Nanette preferred  photographers who were not beginners (who needed to be taught the basics) but also did not want professionals, as many of them were already “set in their ways.” This leads us to seek out intermediate photographers who knew at least the basics of photography, and our focus in these touch points was to be on tips about photographing shelter animals specifically, rather than creating basic photography tips. Our target audience needed to be able to be willing to teach themselves on their own time through our touchpoints and be motivated to attend the workshops provided by Shelter Me Photography.

Secondary Research: Shelter Interviews

We conducted interviews with two shelters about the importance of shelter animal photography, in order to understand the importance of a non-profit like Shelter Me Photography. We interviewed a typical county shelter: Adams County Humane Society, and a non-typical shelter which was a puppy rescue shelter: Lifeline Puppy Rescue.  Both shelters valued the importance of shelters stating that photographs are the first impression that a possible adoptee will get of the animal. A bad photograph can lead to a bad encounter at an adoption. While Lifeline Puppy Rescue had more professional photographs to really promote their puppies to people, shelters like the Adams County Humane Society, have too many animals and little volunteers to do professional-looking photographs. However, they were open to working with a non-profit like Shelter Me Photography as long as they had to do little to no training for photographers. These interviews helped validate the importance of a non-profit such as Shelter Me Photography and gave us the direction that our motion piece needed to educate and inform so volunteers wouldn't need extra time and training after watching these videos.


What could a volunteer look like?

Our persona is based on our target audience, which is a person of older age who has time to volunteer and has an intermediate level of photography. This ensures that our project and Shelter Me Photography can focus on presenting knowledge of tips for photographing shelter animals, rather than basic tips of photography. 


Our targeted persona is someone who loves animals and photography as a hobby. They are motivated by helping others, the experiences they have and are family oriented. They might not be the best at shelter animal photography but they are intermediate in photography as a whole skillset and are willing to learn quickly.


Deliverables: A series of motion graphic videos that informs users how to properly photograph a shelter animal for websites.

1. One 45-50 second teaser motion graphic clip that educates the audience on a new tip or how-to, for photographing shelter animals. This will serve as a base for future video clips with more tips.

  • Typography and flat 2D based imagery

  • Limited color, little shading or detail

  • Title includes the name of tip

  • Ending provides a link to Shelter Me Photography website with invitation to attend a workshop

2. A series of 45-50 second motion graphic piece that
introduces Shelter Me Photography and inspires the audience to watch the tip videos.

  • Imagery of happy, healthy and adoptable animals

  • Limited text or voice-over that motivates audience to take action on how to photograph shelter animals

  • Explains how photography can change an animal’s life through adoption

  • No guilt-tripping

  • Ending opens to reveal the teaser videos that will be shown at a later time and provides a link to Shelter Me Photography’s website

Storyboards: First Drafts

The first versions of our storyboards focused a lot on the intro of the videos being similar to the intro video and all of the tip videos. Our biggest concern was making sure all of the sponsors were included in the videos at the beginning since a big-name brand like Purina was a partner of Shelter Me Photography. Our story was that of the journey of a photographer from the beginning of a photo shoot to the end of a photoshoot, including some proper additions to the type of tip and mistakes that might be made without the help of these motion videos. The intro video's story is informing the audience of about Shelter Me Photography and presenting the series of helpful tip videos that volunteers can watch to learn how to photograph shelter animals.

Storyboards: Final Draft

Subtle changes were made to the storyboards, such as removing unnecessary cuts that made the videos too long. Most people don't want to watch videos that are too long, and our original storyboards were hitting over 60 seconds. By cutting out cuts that were doing nothing to the story of each video, we helped to cut down the length of our videos to a more appropriate timeframe. The tip videos focus more on the process of photographing the shelter animals, specific to the tip being displayed and the Dos and Don'ts of what to do. The intro video's story is very personal to the audience and addresses them clearly while educating about Shelter Me Photography and addressing the series of helpful tip videos that volunteers can watch to learn how to photograph shelter animals.

Script: Condensed for length after revisions made to storyboards in order to avoid overloading the viewer with too much information.

Shot 1: No voice over; 7 seconds

  • Only Music and sound effects over the introduction.

Shot 2: 8 seconds

  • The first tip is: to learn the animal’s way. Get their attention.

Shot 3: 7 seconds

  • Knowing how to catch an animal’s attention will create a happier bond with the animal and create a better picture.

Shot 4: 9 seconds

  • When learning about the animal’s personality to get their attention try to do this: Use a ball; shake a leash, or even make a noise.

Shot 5: 9 seconds

  • As you photograph the animals try to avoid: yelling at them, getting annoyed, or even using a muzzle.

Shot 6: 10 seconds

  • With your help, we can save even more lives. For more information, attend one of our workshops through Shelter Me and watch the next Shelter Photography Tip Video.

Fade to Black; Fade Music


We cut out some of the shots in order to simplify the video and attempt to condense length. However, once the video was condensed to 30 seconds, we found that many of the shots were much too fast even cut sharply. There wasn’t enough time to read any of the text or hear a good amount of voice over, as some viewers explained to us.
We were stumped with either cutting out, even more, scenes to keep the video at 30 seconds or to extend the scenes we currently had in order to make the video flow better. In the end, the decision was made that the information displayed in the video was important enough, and cutting out any shots would result in loss of vital educational information for the audience. We extended scenes at a slower pace and kept the voice over to make the entire video 45-50 seconds long. Such modifications were extending the Introduction shot, where the logos appeared, to appear on screen longer. We extended the To Dos and Avoids shots to allow the audience to absorb each bit of information provided and we tweaked the ending Call to Action, in order to call out Shelter Me Photography’s workshops and hint to the other tip videos associated with this touch point in action.


Platforms: Shelter Me Photography & Purina Facebook pagesPurina Twitter page

The platforms in which our touch point will be located rely heavily on social media. The main platforms where the videos will be located will be on the Shelter Me Photography Facebook page and the official website. The website will be the main housing place for these videos, with its own separate page and that has every tip video arranged in numerical order, starting with the introduction video. On the Facebook page, the videos will be housed in the videos file and will have been posted in numerical order starting with the introduction video posted first. Links to each video and the website will be in the caption. We also plan to utilize Purina’s fanbase as a platform since their following is significantly higher than Shelter Me Photography’s following. Purina will post the tip videos which link back the SMP Facebook or website for all of the tip videos.

They will also have posted the introduction video to get viewer’s interested and curious for more information of these Shelter Photography Tip videos. Purina’s presence is minimal in these platforms and is meant to reach out to a larger and broader audience of animal lovers, in order to promote SMP and the workshop/videos they provide to photographers and volunteers. We realized how much Purina’s large audience could aid in reaching out to target audience members who might not even be aware of Shelter Me Photography or these videos, even if their presence is a very mini partnership with SMP. Our goal is to benefit SMP in the spotlight, and to benefit Purina by showcasing their generosity in par tnering with a non-profit that cares greatly about the well being of shelter animals, creating an empathetic bond between Purina, SMP and the audience.

Where the videos will live: Animal Shelter Websites & Facebook pages

The other platform we wish to utilize with our touchpoint is working with animal shelters that have worked with Shelter Me Photography before, and shelters that are interested in working with Shelter Me Photography, through their social media and websites. We want to show the partnerships between Shelter Me Photography and these animal shelters. The websites would house a separate page for the Shelter Me Photography tip videos, which would showcase the Introduction video and automatically link back to the SMP website where the Shelter Photography Tip Videos would be located for the viewer to watch. The websites would help to locate and inspire animal lovers and intermediate photographers to watch the rest of the tip videos and attend a Shelter Me Photography workshop.

We also want to house links to the Tip videos and the Introduction video on the social media platforms of these shelters that we partner with. Animals shelters would use the hashtags:


in order to tweet or talk about the tip videos with a brief explanation encouraging its users to link back to the Shelter Me Photography website where the videos can be located. The social media sites would also utilize the Introduction videos in their posts or tweets in order to inspire viewers to watch the tip video series. This platform benefits Shelter Me Photography by reaching out to a broader audience who may not be aware of them and showing the firm partnerships between Shelter Me Photography and the animal shelters Shelter Me Phtogoraphy has helped.

Final Results

Deliverable: A 50-second animated explainer and a 60-second introductory video to the process.

Overall, the first two videos were a success. There were tons and tons and tons of iterations, revisions, and tweaks in order to better animate parts of the motion graphics. However, the overall ideas and concepts were visible to the audience and our client.We were able to explore an experience to work with a non-profit client and give them a tool that they could really use. Many of our future tweaks would mainly be in editing keyframes and timing within our animations. Some animations are still very stiff or offkey when it comes to certain aspects of the video, and with more time or more revisions, we would want to tweak these problems.


This project was one of the first of my academic career where user testing wasn't a big part of our process. We mainly focused on showing our storyboards and ideas to people who would be in our target audience, to see if they got our original concept or ideas and then tweaked from there. Afterwards many of our revisions came from help from animators, teachers and our client, to help improve the quality of the project.


It was a success to work with a live client, such as Shelter Me Photography and taught us what came with working in a team and with a client. In the future, if I were to go back to this project, I would create the rest of the videos for all of the tips Shelter Me Photography listed and begin to implement them on advertising spaces that we stated above, such as Purina and Animal shelters and online.

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