Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tips for pet photography

Do you own a pet? I used to own a dog, and any pet owner knows that their pet, be it a dog, cat, hamster or even a goldfish has an unique personality that is begging to be captured in picture. However, photographic pets is an art form on its own and to do so requires a different approach than other forms of photography. Here are a few tips on animal photography that you might find useful.

 Source: Pet photography

1) Patience, patience, patience

Pet photography requires a lot of patience. No matter how excited your furry friend is, if you are patient enough, he will end up by relaxing and you will have the opportunity to get a decent shot.

Also, try to take pictures during natural activities rather than direct your pet to do something for your picture taking.

sleepy gray cat on a sofa

Source:Grey cat sleeping on a sofa

Golden Retriever puppy isolated on a white background

Source: Golden Retriever

2) Take close shots

Go macro! Fill your camera's viewfinder with your subject, as this will create a bigger impact. You  might want to briefly step in close or make use of your camera's zoom to emphasize what's important and exclude unwanted elements.

 Closeup of Common Tree Lizard

 Source: Closeup of an iguana

You don't necessarily need to take whole-body shots of your pet on all shots   you might want to concentrate on parts of the head, very much like with a human portrait. Also, similarly, the eyes are the most important part of the picture, so keep their eyes sharp.

close up of a Chartreux (3 years old)

Source: Closeup of a Chatreux

 guinea pig - a highkey closeup with focus on the eye, shot over white

Source:  Closeup of Guinea Pig

3) How to deal with unwilling subjects

You might want to use a toy or a snack to take it's attention away from you. This can also make for some interesting shots of your pets interacting.  Or you might want to invite another person to divert their attention and keep them engaged.

 Green Macaw Eating Apple
 Source: Parrot snacking on an apple

4) Show your pet in action

Pets love to run around and have fun, so let them, and take great pictures of your pet's actions! When doing so, it is best to use a fast shutter speed. This means that you may have to use high-speed film (400 or 800) or a high ISO setting on your digital camera. I suggest you plan the shot for the action to happen in one spot beforehand and focus on that spot.

 Jack Russel Terrier jumping for ball and treats
 Source: Jack Russel Terrier jumping for ball

Cute Lovely Young Cat Running On Green Grass
Source: Kitten running on green grass
 deep panning photo of running dog
Source: Deep panning photo of running dog
 Running dog on green grass and ball (Irish soft coated wheaten terrier)
Source: Running dog on green grass and ball (Irish soft coated wheaten terrier)
 Cats life!
 Source: Cat's life!

Capture the most characteristic expression & pose of your pet. If they are generally happy, try to catch them doing their version of a smile.

Portrait of a beaming happy golden furred dog
Source: Portrait of a beaming happy golden furred dog

 A smiling kitten

Source: A smiling kitten

 5) Shoot at eye level

One mistake often made by photographers when taking photos of smaller animals is to look down on them. Usually pet photos are much more fascinating and lively when taken at eye level. Show us the way they see the world!

 kitten watching the photographer
 Source: Kitten watching photographer

Besides, eye-to-eye contact is as engaging with a pet as with a person. So get down on your knees to your pet's level to create warm and intimate pictures.

 young couple on the beach with dog in taking pictures
Source: Young couple on the beach with dog in taking pictures
6) Use natural light.

If possible always use natural light when taking your pet in picture. Avoid flash, as flash burst can, not only cause unwanted red-eye, but also possibly frighten your pet. Instead try to go outside or, if it is not possible, in a room well lit by a large window.

Avoid direct sunlight, as it can alter natural coloring and increase the contrast between shadow and light, hiding some features. A bright but overcast day is perfect.

Cats life!

Source: portrait of a cat

7) Dont wait for them to come to you

It is very important that you pet feels comfortable and at ease, so instead of forcing him to come to you go to him.
 A three-month old kitten approaching the camera, playing
Source: 3 month old kitten approaching camera, playing

Or better yet, surprise them! One of the most difficult things is to let your pet hold still. An easy trick is to let him play quietly and, once you have everything ready, let someone call for him or whistle. This will surprise him and caught his attention and you will have a few seconds to capture him in a nice and alert posture.

Pug wandering with eyes wide open

Source: Surprised looking pug

8) Don't be stingy with the film.

In pet photography takes as many pictures as you can. You can worry about the results later. In fact, taking lots of pictures increases your chances of getting the best possible shot. Everyone including the pros do not worry about exhausting whole rolls of film just to capture that perfect moment.

picture of lovely girl and cat with ice cream

picture of lovely girl and cat with ice cream

picture of lovely girl and cat with ice cream

picture of lovely girl and cat with ice creampicture of lovely girl and cat with ice cream

picture of lovely girl and cat with ice cream

Source: Cat sharing ice cream

Anything we may have missed? Feel free to share it with us by writing us a comment!

Boys with Dog

Source: Boys with Dog

Photos sourced from www.123rf.com
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  1. Using key words and/or sounds that the pet's owner uses can trigger excited or interested expressions which also make for good photos.

  2. @Ali, that's so true. However, what's most important is the patience and the instinct for that moment prior to the perfect shots. Then, you'll just push down on the trigger. Of course, it helps to have large memory sticks in your camera.