Prepare the Gerbil:
Gerbils will need a sand bath before taking the pictures. This will smooth their fur and should eliminate any matting especially around the shoulders. Decide where you will be taking pictures and allow your gerbils to become familiar with this area. The more familiar they are with the area the less time they will spend scent marking and exploring. Also they should be used to the sounds and lights a camera makes. This gerbil is greasy and needs a sand bath.
Take lots of photos but don’t be surprised if it takes 20 or more pictures before you find the right shot.
Tips to taking better pictures
If you use flash photography be sure to take them from a distance to reduce glare. If you aren’t using flash, you need to make sure there is a LOT of light in the room. Some cameras allow you to choose a shutter speed, exposure time, or other advanced settings. Learning how to use these features can make picture taking easier in bright and dim lighting.
Choosing the Background
In order to achieve the best photo quality takes pictures in well lit areas. Flash photography can cause the gerbils to look discolored; this can be especially problematic on some of the pastel colors. Select a background that contrasts with the color of your gerbil and is plain. Choose simple backgrounds that only have one or two colors, avoid taking photos of gerbils in their cages or on their bedding. Light colored gerbils should be photographed on dark background, and dark colored gerbils should be photographed on light backgrounds. Marked gerbils like spotted, pied, or mottled should be taken on a background that is distinct from both their colored and marked areas. Be aware that the color of the background may cause your gerbil to take on slightly different tones; this can both help and hinder you.
This light colored gerbil is on a dark background making it very easy to look at the gerbil.
This background is almost the same color as the gerbil.
This background is busy and distracts the judge from the gerbil.
Setting up the Booth
Find a place that is long and narrow, some ideas are a book shelf, stair case, or table top. Avoid window sills, these are often create shadows and are very distracting. Avoid taking pictures on shiny objects such as glass, marble, tile, or any other polished surface.
If the room isn’t already bright, go and get some desk lamps, or other portable lights and set them up to add more light. Make sure the bulbs put out a white light, as many are tinted yellow or blue. The more light you use, the less work your camera has to do.
Here are two examples:
A profile picture should show the entire gerbil from head to tail. Their tail should be straight behind them, it is best to take the photo perpendicular to the gerbil. Only one eye should be visible.
Taking pictures of gerbils at an angle may cause the tail to seem shorter or longer than it truly is. The best pose is with 3 or 4 feet on the ground, and not hunched.
Using treats to bribe your gerbil to sit still will often cause them to sit on their haunches, its not an attractive position. Avoid picking photos where gerbils are sniffing, scent marking, or standing on two feet. This is an example of good posture.
This gerbil’s picture was taken at an angle and his tail curves away from the photo making it appear short. His tail and tuft are not in focus and can not be judged. Otherwise he has good posture.
This gerbil is hunched over, standing on two feet, and both his eyes are visible. He’s a nice gerbil, but it would be easier to see that if he was in a better position. His tail is in focus, making this image better than the one above.
Portraits must show both eyes, and are best taken slightly to the left or right of the gerbil. Pictures should be level with the gerbils and the s/he should be looking at the camera. Pictures where the gerbil is looking down or up are not ideal. Judges are looking at the head including whiskers, eyes, and ears in this picture so be sure they are in focus. This is a good example of a portrait, the face, whickers, eyes and ears are in focus and the gerbil is looking at the camera. Often these pictures are best taken when the gerbil is on two feet.
A good example, but a little blurry.
This view is a little too far to the side, if the head was turned a little more to center it would be a great picture.
Although this image is looking down at the gerbil, he is looking at the camera.
This gerbil is looking down. Making it difficult to see his face.
Make sure to select photos where the ears are relaxed and facing either out or forward. A gerbil that is pinching their ears, holding them back, or laying them flat to their head may appear to be nervous. Only choose photos where the gerbil is in focus. Blurry pictures are harder to judge. Use the same “photo booth” for both the profile and portrait for consistency. Remember a judge can only judge what they can see, gerbils that are blurry, pixelated, or out of frame will lose points for what can not be seen.