As a rescuer, I am constantly nagging fosters (and myself) to take a decent photo.
If the 'Pick Me' pic is dark and blurry, a dog's chances of getting noticed and adopted go way down. I certainly won't be scoring any Nat Geo gigs, but since I am always posting rescue dogs, I do have some standards! So, let's start with the basics.
In Focus. Yes. Ability to actually see the dog always helps. Nobody wants to squint and wonder if there's something wrong with their eyesight. It can take time and patience to get a dog to be still, so be armed with treats and squeaky toys. Even then, you may find yourself dancing around making embarrassing noises to get them to actually look at you. Most likely with a look of disdain on their face.
Head Shot. Who doesn't love a good head shot? The dog may not always be so enthusiastic, but hey, Moody Grumplestiltskin can go a long way, too. It's about capturing personality. I think you can tell I was dancing around for this one. Obviously taking photos while the dog is calm, helps your stress levels too. If they are jumping around watching others play frisbee, you are likely to get high blood pressure and a low result.
Outside. Natural light is generally better as there's no chance of the dreaded red eye. I usually take photos in the mornings or late afternoons before the sun hits and creates shadows. Either way, be aware of your background. Don't pick a white wall for a white dog etc. It helps if the dog can 'pop' against the background.
Portrait. I am partial to sitting shots on my infamous - but now decrepit - bench.
Perspective. Shooting at eye level is the most flattering, even if that means sitting or lying down to do so. Don't be afraid to inject a little humour, too. I think funny pictures always stand out. Some people think dogs look better with a closed mouth, and others prefer a panting 'smile'. I just prefer the 'toof' shot, which is pretty easy with bulldogs!
Body Shot. If you've got it, flaunt it! Allegedly. Body shots are good to give prospective adopters an idea of the dog's size and shape. You'd be surprised at how many people want to see what the tail is like.
Cute 'N' Contrast. I think certain info can be portrayed more clearly through photos. Yes, I can say Hunka Love is 'extremely sweet - but putting him in the bath with a little Chihuahua seals it. It's ye olde Show not Tell. Large breeds and bully breeds can often look intimidating, so don't just say they are friendly - surround them with tiny dogs, babies and old people. Score!