The holiday season is upon us. Halloween is in the rear view mirror. Thanksgiving will be here in a matter of days. Stores are decorated for Christmas. Have you taken a photo for your annual Christmas card, yet? There are a lot of exotic pets around…snakes, bearded dragons, birds…but for most of us, a pet usually means owning a dog or a cat. They are part of our family so why wouldn’t we include a photo in our Christmas card or give a photo as a gift?
Have you ever tried to photograph a dog or a cat? It is not as easy as one might think. When they are asleep, it’s easy to grab a photo, but once they wake up, well, not so easy. They won’t be still. They won’t look at you. I have pups that will turn their back to me when they see the camera. Cats run away. They just refuse to cooperate. Below are some pet photography tips and ideas to help you take an outstanding photo of your pet.
- Use a digital camera. The camera on your phone is fine for FB postings, but it won’t produce the quality photo you are looking for.
- Decide on a location. Where will your pet be most comfortable and at ease? Is there a place that is special to you and your pet? It might be the beach or a park. Consider the background of these locations. You don’t want a background to distract from your pet or distract your pet. Often the plainest background is the best choice for pet photography.
- Help your pet be comfortable with your digital camera. Consider taking it with you on a few outings before you use it. If your pet is accustomed to your camera, they are more likely to cooperate during the photo shoot.
- Recruit a helper. Use another person to distract your pet from what you are doing. Another person can help your pet look the direction you want it to by making noises or playing an app on a phone (Human-to-Cat Translator and Dog Squeaky Toy)
- Add people to your photo. Shots with your pet interacting with family members will help provide cherished memories. Posed or candid, either can capture the relationship.
- Catch your pet unaware. Just pretend to ignore them and see what kind of candid shots they will provide you.
- Camera tips:
- Always focus on your pet’s eyes
- Remember the rule of thirds. When processing, crop to get the closest eyeball in the upper or lower quadrant of the frame to give it a pleasing composition.
- Shoot at eye level or below. Get on the ground. Lay on your tummy. This will add intimacy and provide an excellent perspective.
- Indoor photography. Open all blinds and curtains so that you will have natural light and can avoid having to use a flash, which creates a harsh light. If your pet doesn’t prefer the most naturally lit room, put her bed in the room to help her become comfortable with the location
- Outdoor photography. Overcast days are best as they cast an “even” light and create soft shadows. If you do not have an overcast day, then use the early morning or evening, which will also provide a warm light
- Fill the camera frame with your pet, capturing details that you love…a wet nose, curly tail, whiskers, etc.
- Use your zoom lens. This will help you get close while capturing your pet in a more natural pose
- For a nice blurry background use aperture priority mode and set your lens to the widest aperture possible (lowest f-stop number)
- Shoot in continuous mode to get shots of your pet in action
- see http://www.popphoto.com/how-to/2015/01/tips-pro-gary-parkers-dog-photography for additional camera setting tips and http://www.exposureguide.com/photographing-pets.htm
- Use bribes, patience and repetition to increase your odds of capturing great shots!
Keep frustration in perspective. Have fun and remember this is an opportunity to spend special time with your furry friend!