SPECIAL EDITION: PET PHOTOGRAPHY - Just part of the family
"just part of the family"
Having pets can be like having four-legged children. We lavish attention on them and give them treats. We also love to take their photographs and show them off in our homes or to family and friends. However, capturing great pet shots can be difficult. Pets don’t necessarily co-operate, and many factors contribute to a high quality portrait. It’s tough bringing all those elements together at the same time and in the same place. To beginners, photography can be challenging enough in normal circumstances. But with plenty of practice and patience, it is more than possible to get superb portraits of your pampered pet.
“Pets” captured by Renate Rio (Click image to see more from Rio.)
Plan to photograph your pet where they are most comfortable. Dogs may thrive walking in the park and playing outdoors and therefore would photograph well in these environments. A cat that rarely ventures outside is best photographed in the home. Similarly, pets such as hamsters, snakes, lizards, and birds are best photographed in habitats they are familiar with. Whenever you take your pet out of its comfort zone, it can become nervous or jittery. Pets like to be in familiar surroundings where they experience familiar people, objects, and even smells. This is where you will capture your pet at their most natural.
“Untitled” captured by Vanja Borko (Click image to see more from Borko.)
Lighting is a key element of any portrait—whatever the subject. In this beginner’s photography article, we will consider the natural light options. If shooting indoors, place your pet in an area where there is a high quality and quantity of diffused light. This can be achieved by tacking a white sheet over a brightly lit window. If photographing outdoors, you’ll get best results either in an evenly shaded area (with no mottled light filtering in between leaves from the trees, for example) or on a hazy overcast day when the clouds are diffusing the sun.
“Look at Me” captured by Anna (Click image to see more from Anna.)
With your pet in an area of good quality diffused light, where he or she is comfortable and relaxed, you can get the portrait you desire. Eliminate any distractions—such as other pets or people—in the area. Turn down any loud music or anything that might distract your pet. Stay calm and position the pet where you would like him or her to be. Move away from your pet slowly and get down to their eye level if possible, or at least on your knees. Alternatively, place a small pet on a table to raise your pet up closer to your level when you are on your knees. Let your pet do what it does naturally and watch for a good photographic opportunity. Then take the shot. Be prepared to take multiple shots, to be patient and wait for the right moment, and to repeat the process several times if needed.
“Baby Ellowen” captured by Stacy Griebel (Click image to see more from Griebel.)
If you exhaust your pet’s attention span or patience, put the camera down and play with your pet for a while. Take care of any immediate needs your pet may have such as socializing, eating, drinking, or even a nap, if necessary. Then come back to the photo session when your pet is ready to try again. Pet portraits may be a challenging aspect of beginners’ photography, but your patience will be rewarded with memories that will last forever.
Photo Credit: Pet Birds PK ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
A special thanks to PictureCorrect and Paul Summers on the great article about Pet Photography. And of course to all the great Pet photographers. Pets are just part of the family, and if you learn to take good pet pictures, they are truly award winning photos.