I'm one of those annoying people who constantly wants to capture their pet doing something silly, mundane or downright stupid. I don't even own a digital camera. I just rely on my smart phone and generally get blurry shots of either Flip or Tiki looking in the wrong direction or with demon-like red eyes. I would not say I'm a good photographer by any stretch.
But this holiday season, I really wanted to score some worthy shots, so I decided to brush-up on the basics of pet photography. Photographing animals is one of the most difficult types of photography because there is absolutely no guarantee that your pet will cooperate. And my two dogs rarely do. On top of that, they tend to have very short attention spans, are easily distracted or bored, and absolutely despise wearing any clothing or props. However, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of getting some better-than-average shots:
1. Know your pet's personality and focus on capturing the essence of your dog or cat. If they are playful, or shy, or love to sleep in the sun, use that to create the perfect setting and time to capture their personality.
2. Skip the flash and avoid the creepy red-eye effect. Instead, try to use natural light whenever possible.
3. Have an "assistant" to help with props, treats or squeakers to keep their attention, etc.
4. Get in close for better definition and more detailed facial expression.
5. Get down on their level. This is a more interesting perspective.
6. Go for candid shots vs posed. Be playful and relaxed to put your pet at ease and catch them off guard.
7. Use a higher shutter speed to reduce the blur when they move around.
8. Keep the photo session short and fun. Don't stress out, yell or get exasperated (uh oh, too late for that!). Reward your pet after every photo session so they enjoy it and look forward to it.
9. Pick an interesting background. Make sure there is enough contrast so your pet stands out. This is especially hard for me because I have one white dog with black accents and one charcoal colored dog with white accents.
10. Focus on their eyes! Just as with humans, your pet's eyes speak volumes. Take some headshots, not just full body shots.
So far I've had a little success with my cute holiday pet pics, but I've still got a lot of work to do (mostly on the keeping calm and not getting exasperated part!). I hope our readers are enjoying their holidays and capturing a few good furry photos.