Our pets fill a large part of our hearts and we enjoy having their pictures framed on our desk or wall. You may have noticed a number of photographs in our office. We are also fortunate to have Sandy Dustin here with her talents and gifts as a photographer. At home, we all know that taking pictures of your best friend is not always easy. Our furry friends do not understand what we are trying to do and won’t pose for the camera easily. Here are some tips that will help you get the most of your pet photographs.
1. Use Natural Light: If possible, always use natural light when taking a picture of your pet. Avoid flash, as flash can cause red eye and can frighten your pet. If inside, try a well-lit room by a large window.
2. Go to Their Level: It is important that your pet feel comfortable and at ease during their photo session. Instead of forcing your pet to come to you, go to him. Get down on his level. Show the setting from their point of view, so lie on your belly and shoot from his eye level or below. Remember too that an uncluttered environment produces more aesthetically pleasing images. Take a moment to look in the background to see if you should move or remove some things.
3. Show Their Character: You know your pet’s personality better than anyone else. A successful picture is one that conveys the character of its subject. If your cat is lazy, show her yawning. If your animal is playful, show her in action performing her favorite trick.
4. Get Close Up: If your camera is equipped, put on a long lens and fill the frame with your pet’s face and fur. Close up shots often are the most beautiful animal portraits.
5. Surprise Them: One of the most challenging things is to convince your pet to hold still. An easy trick is to let him play quietly and, once you have everything ready, let someone call for him or whistle. We like to use squeaky toys here too. This will surprise him and catch his attention and you will have a few sections to capture him in a nice and alert posture.
6. Be Patient: Pet photography requires a lot of patience. No matter how excited your furry friend is, if you are patient enough, she will relax over time and you will have the opportunity to get a wonderful photograph.
7. Relax: Our pets are little emotional sponges. If you are stressed and anxious, they will sense it and become stressed and anxious too. A stressed pet will have “concerned eyes” looks and “flattened ears” which doesn’t make for nice photographs. Take a deep breath and remember to have fun!
8. Pay your Model: Every animal needs some sort of motivation to pay attention to you during the photo session or else he will wander off and become disinterested. Determine what he is motivated by and provide it to him throughout your shoot. For dogs it may a treat, toys or simply getting love and affection. For cats, it may be a feather toy, a paper bag, catnip or his favorite blanket. For horses, it may be a favorite food such a carrots or apples.
The biggest “trick” of pet photography is to fool your furry friend into thinking they are making the decisions, when it’s really you that is motivating them to do what you want without telling them outright. Have fun and enjoy your time with your pets and they will reward you with great photographs!