If you have ever tried taking a photo of your beloved pet, you probably already know that it is not always as easy to get the perfect shot. Whether you are taking photos to add to your family album, or a trying to get a great shot to use as reference for a pet portrait, hopefully the following tips will help!
The number one tip for great looking photos is take them from the subjects level – for pet photo’s, that may mean laying on the floor! By taking the photo from the pet’s level, you will avoid the camera distortion that makes some photos look like caricatures.
Use natural light if possible, no flash or artificial lighting. The best outside photographs are taken on overcast days with light cloud so that there is plenty of light. If it is sunny, position your pet in the shade and take the photos with the sun behind you. Don’t take the photo in direct sunlight as this will make your pet squint (not to mention get impatient).
If you do need to take the photo inside, take it near a window that allows plenty of natural lighting, and try to avoid using the flash. Take the photo with your back to the window with the subject facing the window.
Take photo’s from a distance of 6ft or less. You want your pet to be the main object in the photo, not the surroundings, so zoom in and fill the viewfinder with your pet’s image. This is really important if you are taking a head shot, as you really want to see the eyes and facial expression clearly.
Make sure you allow some space around your pet in the viewfinder so you don’t accidentally chop off an ear or a nose!
Take as many photos as you can, a digital camera is excellent as you can keep taking multiple shots in the same pose to give you a good range to choose from.
When taking photos of pets, enlist the help of another person to stand beside you and get the animals attention with a toy or treat. A shot of the head looking forward and slightly to the one side usually makes a more interesting phot enlargement or pet portrait than a full side-on profile pose – try to take the photo from an angle that shows both eyes (for dogs and cats).
Photos that capture the subjects personality and character are important. Be patient and be prepared to spend a fair bit of time, possibly over more than one photo session. Dog’s in particular will sense if you are getting frustrated or grumpy, and this will reflect in their demeanor. Try to make it fun – toys and treats usually work!
Always keep a camera handy and know how to use it in a hurry – candid shots can often truly capture the personality of your pet, but you usually don’t have a lot of time to get your camera organised before the pet moves!
These two photos of Jess are examples of good close-up and detailed reference photos. I took these photos following all the advice I have have listed above – so you can see these tips will help 🙂
Of course, some pets are easier to photograph than others – I have taken several dozen photos of my own dog Tia, a black Shar Pei (you know the dog’s with all the wrinkles) and while many of them are nice photos, only one photo is really suitable for use as a reference for her portrait, so I shall keep trying for some better ones.