People always say never work with animals or children, but after creating some fantastic and cherished moments for over a decade I disagree. You have to be in control to get the photo shoot to go the way you want. Being prepared in advance reduces any difficulties I may encounter.
Pet portraiture is on the rise with more and more of us keen to get images of our pets and even turn it into a professional venture. But some struggle, so I have tried to outline some useful pointers and tips on how to take perfect pet photos.
Pet photography requires a lot of patience. No matter how excited your furry friend is, if you are patient enough, they will end up relaxing and you will have the opportunity to get your shot. I sometimes compare pets to children, and they have their hyper moments, down time and sleepy time. Photographing your pet should be done when you pet is more likely to be sleepy or just woke up from a nap. A long walk or excising before shooting will help you achieve a better outcome.
Capture their character
Only you know your pet better than anyone else, and taking a successful image of them is one that conveys the character of its subject. If you have a lazy cat, show it yawning, if you’re pet is a playful type then capture them performing its favorite trick. An easy way to get them to give you that big grin is to take them for a quick run or tug on a toy with them. Have them chase you around or have a quick 5 minute play session. An active dog is a happy dog and will likely flash you a huge smile after settling down.
Capturing the moment
Trying to get your pet stay in one place or still can be difficult. An easy trick is to let them play quietly and become familiar with the new surroundings, and once they are a little settled start to persuade them to calm down. Make a familiar noise, whistle or squeak a toy, as this will make them alert, giving you a chance to capture their expression. Take your time and enjoy the session, try different approaches, angles and compositions.
Cleaning and Grooming
Make sure you pet is looking its best. A mini- make over, wash, and brush will give you images worth printing. After all, if you’re going to the effort of photographing your pet, you might as well spend time getting some images t present to family or place up as art on the wall. If your attending a studio for your photography make sure you have walked before hand, for toilet duties, and also clean the paws and under the feet so no mud or mess is made in the studio.
Get up close and personal
Pets come in all shapes and sizes but in most cases they are smaller than a human and as a result they tend to end up getting a little lost in photos unless you make an effort to get up close to them. Of course getting close is not always easy, especially if you have a pet that likes to move around. It’s worth making the effort though, as the detail and the personality that can be captured up close can really lift a photo to a new level. Get down on your pets level where you can look upon them eye to eye. Images taken by a photographer standing up and looking down on their level not only leave you too far away from your subject but they also mean the shots end up having a very ‘human perspective’. Getting down on your pets level means you enter their world and get a glimpse of what life looks like from their angle.
One of the best things you can do to add context to a shot is to include the special people in the life of your pet within the image. Shots with the owner or other family members interacting with your pet can make the images incredibly special for years to come. You might like to try posed shots but sometimes it’s the candid shots of owner and pet at playtime that really captures the character of the pet and evokes emotion.
Include their toys, stimulate them to look longingly into your camera by holding a special treat above your head or take a picture with them sitting on top of you mid wrestle etc. Make your photo shoot a fun experience for both you and your pet and your shots are likely to reflect it.
Book a session
My favorite thing about my job is having fun with the dogs, or any pet that attends the studio, creating beautiful and outstanding images. Seeing the look on my client’s faces when they view their images is the best part and delivering a very personal and professional portrait of their loved furry friend.