By Marianne Walthier, volunteer writer

You might wonder how the Dumb Friends League (DFL) consistently publishes such wonderful photos of animals available for adoption. These photos inspire potential adopters to race over to the League’s three shelter locations in Denver, Castle Rock, and Alamosa to meet their future furry companions. I interviewed Emily Niemeier, DFL’s Animal Marketing Coordinator, to discover her secrets to success.

Emily started at the League in Pet Admissions, where she had a particular interest in improving the photos of animals in Lost and Found to give them a better chance of being recognized and reunited with their owners. When the Animal Marketing Coordinator position became available nine years ago, Emily jumped at the chance. Although she had no formal training and experience in photography, she enrolled in several photography courses to learn how to operate a digital DSLR camera. Today, her preferred camera is the Nikon 7500 fitted with the 24 mm 1.4 lens, which enables her to “brighten the darkest corners of the shelter and get a soft focus with a blurred background.”

All the adoptable pet photos and biographies featured on DFL’s website and kennel windows are made possible by Emily and her team of talented volunteers. Believe it or not, they take photos and write bios for 30-60 animals each day! Emily is also in charge of pictures and videos for events, social media, and other marketing efforts. This is quite an operation – the League even has a studio with triggered lighting and fun backgrounds for special occasions!

We all know how difficult it can be to get our subjects to pose for photographs. So, how does Emily get such terrific shots of the dogs and cats at the shelter? For dogs, she uses lots of treats, a squeaker removed from a toy, and other strange noises to direct their attention to the camera. Cats are not as accommodating, so Emily gently taps their noses or foreheads to draw their gaze up to the camera. She then snaps that perfect glamour shot. Emily and her team certainly put smiles on the faces of dogs and cats as they wait to find their forever homes!