There’s something about photographing pets that just warms the heart of many. Whether it’s their adorable appearance, or their loveable personality, pets have a special place in family homes around the country. Not to mention, they are often a source of joy, humour and delight for plenty. Similar to newborns, working with pets is an unpredictable task and they won’t always be so accommodating. Accordingly, if you can master pet photography, there’s a fair chance you’ll have no problems working with any other type of subject again.
Aim for Natural Shots
Instead of trying to force an animal into a certain place, or posing them in a certain manner, capture their natural movements. Sometimes the best shots eventuate when an animal is doing an activity, or engaging with another animal and perhaps even their owner. Increasing the shutter speed and using a continuous setting will help you capture active animals. However, as a photographer you’ll need to be on your game and prepared at all times. Another way to capture them in a less alert manner is to introduce the element of surprise. For example, take their photo after you call them to enter the room.
Shoot from the Same Level as the Pet
Most pets that are the subject of a photoshoot tend to be smaller, if not significantly smaller than a human. Therefore, with this difference in size, photographers should approach the pet as close as possible and shoot from a close distance while moving around and working from different angles. This will help you capture enough detail and sharpness, particularly in the eyes of the animal.
You also want to be shooting on the same level as the pet’s eye line, which adds a degree of understanding of what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera. If the pet is easily distracted or frightened by the close presence of an individual, use a zoom lens and try to blur the background to emphasis the attention on the animal. A series of photos with various elements of framing and composition is a safe way to approach the photoshoot.
Animals Have Personalities Too
Just like humans, animals also have their own unique and peculiar personalities. We come to love our pets for certain aspects about their personality that define them. If you’re taking photos of someone else’s pet, speak with the owner and identify what it is about the animal that their owner characterises as their main personality traits. You can use this information as the basis for setting the context and location of the photoshoot.
Natural Light Rules the Roost
We previously touched on the fact that newborns should be captured with natural light since they may be easily frightened or scared by a flash. Similarly, pets are also likely to have an adverse reaction if being exposed to artificial lighting. You may even end up with red eye. Unlike newborns which are generally best kept away from direct outdoors sunlight, pets have no problem with this. One thing to be mindful of is glare that may reflect from animals with dark fur. In instances like this, you may want to opt for different exposure settings.
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