Taking photos of your pets can be tricky. It’s often not in their nature to sit still and can quickly become a frustrating experience, however, the final result can be more than worth it if done correctly. Below are some of our top tips on how to make your pet look their best.
Cameras – Use What You’ve Got
It’s true that a high end camera will create a better shot that a phone camera. However, if you’re just starting out or if you just want to take some fun photos with your pet, do you really want to spend thousands of pounds on a new camera with expensive lenses? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get great photos with the camera you have, so get to know your camera, it’s weakness, for example, low light, and its strengths, maybe high speed shooting, and use them to your advantage. It’s not all about what camera you have, it’s how you use it.
When you are trying to get your pet to look in a specific direction or run past you, you will be glad of an extra person who can stand and call your pet’s name. So bring a friend who your pet is familiar with to put them at ease and help you get the best shot.
Sometimes your pet needs a little encouragement and a favorite toy or snack could be just the thing to keep your pets focused. Try breaking up the treats into little pieces if you will be handing them out frequently. Smaller pieces will also take less time to eat so you can get back to shooting.
Get Down to Their Level
By getting down to your pets level you can see directly into their eyes which can create a really powerful image. As a rule the eyes should always have the sharpest focus. As humans we are drawn to the eyes. They can tell us so much about the personality of your pet so this is a really important part of photographing animals. Andy Biggar, a professional pet photographer says he spends most of his time lying down in fields in order to get down to his subjects level and get the most out of each shot.
Check the background before shooting. You want your pet to be the main subject so make sure there is nothing too distracting in the background. If you are using a DSLR, widen the aperture to throw the background out of focus. This will not only help to focus the subject of the picture, but will also create depth.
When possible always choose natural light. If you need to shoot indoors make sure the room is well lit and be aware that all lights can give off different hues. For example, fluorescent lighting will often cast a slightly green hue, which can be fixed in post but it’s a good idea to take note of this when shooting so you know what to correct later. Another key element is the flash. Where possible avoid using it. The flash often casts an unnatural light and can cause red or green light in your pets eyes. A photo often looks better without a flash in natural light. It is also worth mentioning that some pets don’t like the flash. It can be frightening and like humans can cause health issues if your pet has underlying health conditions.
Action shots can be really tricky. Your pet could be so fast that even before the camera has focussed they have already run out of frame. This is where a camera with a fast shutter speed becomes invaluable. If you can change your settings to 1/1000sec to increase sharpness.
Auto focus is also going to be a tricky element. If your camera takes a while to focus, try to focus the shot before shooting or switch to manual, although this can be tricky to focus as you shoot so may take a few goes and a bit of practice.
Another tip is to aim your camera a little ahead of your pet so that they will run into the frame. This will increase your chances of getting that amazing photo, rather than lots of shots of tails wagging.
Tire Them Out First
When working with dogs in particular, try to tire them out first. When you first go outside dogs often have a burst of energy and you want them to get this out of their system especially if you are looking for a portrait shot. However, even if you want an action shot they may run a little slower if they are getting tired which allows you to keep up.
Capture Your Pet’s Personality
That’s the whole point right? You love your pet for who they are, whether they are silly, lively, lazy or excitable, this is what you should try to capture. If they love swimming try to capture them jumping into the water or shaking of the excess when they get out. If they love sunbathing, why not capture them and stretch out enjoying a snooze? Or include their favorite toy. Try to include elements that make your pet who they are, that’s what will make a photo really special.