I bet I know something about you. If you take your pet everywhere you go, I’m guessing that you take a lot of photos, too. Am I right? Don’t worry, I take too many myself. My husband is very grateful for digital photography; otherwise, we might spend our kids’ college funds on film and development!
Whether you use film or digital, however, a few perfectly executed shots that capture your pet’s personality are better than dozens of blurry, dark, unbalanced photos. So I want to share some of what I’ve learned (the hard way!) about taking great pet photos.
Lighting matters. A lot.
Lighting can make or break a photo. And, while most digital editing software lets you adjust things like brightness and contrast, that’s no substitute for getting it right to start with. Here are a couple of tips:
- Natural light is best.
- If you can plan your photo shoot so that you don’t need a flash, so much the better. Leaving the flash off will help you avoid those scary red eyes you see in so many pet photos.
- Aim for early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is near the horizon. This diffuse lighting is softer, warmer, and flattering for almost all subjects.
Timing matters, too.
Be flexible in your timing so that you can catch your pet in the mood you want the photo to reflect. If you want a close-up of a relaxed pet, trying doing it either right before or right after a nap. If you want an action shots, however, you’re going to have a tough time motivating a sleepy pet to cooperate.
Keep it casual.
Our pets know when something is up. If you approach a photo session like it’s a big deal, your pet will sense that, and you may not be able to get a shot that reflects who your pet really is. Be as nonchalant as you can, and, if your pet isn’t in the mood to cooperate, your best bet is to take a break and try again later. (If you’ve ever tried to get a wailing toddler to pose for a picture with Santa, you’ll understand why this is so important.)
The eyes have it.
The better your camera, the bigger difference choosing the right focal point will make. Still, whether you’re using a professional grade DSLR or the camera on your smartphone, focus on your pet’s eyes (unless you’re doing a side-shot, of course).
Put technology to work for you.
A lot of cameras have features designed to help you get better photos than you could on your own. If your camera has a “portrait” setting, use that for close-ups. The portrait setting will put your pet in sharp focus while blurring the background, giving it a soft, dreamy look. If you’re aiming for an action shot, check to see whether your camera has a “sports” setting that will keep taking pictures as long as you hold the button down. I’ve used this trick to get some amazing shots that never would have happened through random chance.
Don’t forget about props.
Props can make for some great photos, too. I’ve got several of my puppy on her back, paws in the air, stuffed animal in her mouth, looking at me over her shoulder. And few things are sweeter than a furry face peaking out from a pet stroller.
Are you inspired to try to get some incredible photos of your fur baby? A nice camera is helpful, but you can get memorable shots with a point-and-shoot camera, too. So what are you waiting for? Stop what you’re doing and go get those photos! Then post them on Instagram so we can all see how adorable your babies are.
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