How to photograph my Pet
Have you ever tried to take pictures of a pet? At first it may seem like a simple task, but if you have tried it you will have realized that getting good photos at the first time is not so easy. Above all, if the pet is not yours…
Pet portraits have many things in common with portraits for babies or young children. The factor of uncontrolled and disorder adds a plus of difficulty to your photo shoots. However, there are tricks and tips that can help you get better photos. Want to know what they are? Take note!
If you are going to take pictures of your own pet, you will have more options to choose the most appropriate day, time or time. For example, nap time or a family outing. Having the camera at home, it will be easier to find spontaneous situations and photograph them.
But, if you are going to take pictures of a foreign pet, it gets complicated. In those cases, you will have to plan your photo shoot. This will be essential in this type of photography because you will have a limited time before the pet begins to overwhelm, and if you are not tidy, you probably do not meet your goals.
First, talk to the animal’s owner and ask him to tell you all about his pet. Ask him what kind of photos he would like to take or what themes (Christmas, Halloween, and Birthday) could be addressed. Although, if you have the opportunity, try to meet the animal before the session to take some trust with him. When you have everything clear, write down all the ideas on a list, and follow that script during your session to cover all or most of them.
The recommended equipment for pet photography is practically the same as you could use for people portrait photography. You can use, for example, a standard fixed lens such as 50 mm or 35 mm. Both lenses are very bright and are very suitable for this type of photographs.
Although you can also choose to use a zoom lens that covers several focal lengths from 28 to 70 mm. Although it depends on the animal, you may not be able to use short focal distances. If you get too close to him with your camera, you can get his attention or curiosity too much and get him to investigate your photographic material. In that case you can lose the frame and even jeopardize the integrity of your equipment.
The other most common reaction is that the animal is scared, so that the session will not work as you want. In those cases, perhaps the solution is to use a telephoto lens. This way you can focus on the details without bothering the pet, getting very good photos in a more comfortable and safe way.
When you photograph your pet in a room in the house, try not to have elements that distract attention. For example, that the bed is made or that the fabric is not wrinkled, that the table has no dust or that the breakfast cup is not visible in the background. If you take care of those little details, your photos will be much more professional.
If you are going to take the photos in a stay prepared for the occasion, also have everything ready. If you have to place props or a specific background, do it beforehand. When you start taking photos you will see that time passes very fast, so everything you can have advanced will free you to take more photos.
We are interested that the pet is the protagonist of the shot. Therefore, the most important thing is to avoid funds that distract too much attention. The background color is also important. If you photograph a black dog, for example, do not choose a dark color for the background. Try to find the contrast so that the pet stands out more, for example a white or red background.
As we have already mentioned, animals are unpredictable in their behavior. That is why we will have to adjust the shutter speed above all. We will be interested in using high speeds to be able to freeze the movement, especially if we want to photograph it while playing or jumping and we don’t want the photo to move.
You can try using the Pet Mode that you will find in many cameras, but it is also a good option to use the Speed Priority Mode. This way you will choose the speed that most interests you and the camera will calculate the rest of the parameters for you.
If the pet is still or relaxed and what interests you is to get an unfocused background, you can use a high aperture (low f number) or the Priority Opening Mode (to go faster). Also use the Point or weighted measurement mode at the center and thus you will also get a more correct exposure (especially if your pet is very dark or very light in color)
Maybe instead of wanting to still photograph the animal, you prefer to capture it in motion. If it is a dog, you can take it to a park and ask its owners or an assistant to throw a ball or toy.
When you photograph a moving animal, in addition to high shutter speeds, you can also shoot your photos in burst mode. So you get multiple images at the same time and you can choose the one you like best.
You can also use the scanning or panning technique. If you do not know it, it consists of photographing a moving subject accompanying this movement with the camera. That is, in this case we would be sweeping the scene to follow the animal. In this article we tell you how to make a good sweep.
As you would have guessed if you have not faced such a situation, dogs, cats and other pets have a certain resemblance to babies and young children.
Their behavior is arbitrary and if they are tense, the session will not work.
For this reason, try not to bother the pet. As we have said before, the ideal is that you photograph it in your own environment: your home, your garden, your favorite park .
But if there is no choice but to photograph it in your photo studio or in a place unknown to it, you will have to Find your comfort.
One way to make you feel more comfortable if you are outside your usual environment is to have some element that you use for your games. Ask the owners to bring their toys to the session, so that the animal is distracted and at ease. It is also recommended that the owners themselves be with you in the session, so that the animal feels close to their loved ones.
The photos made with natural light simplify the control of our equipment, making us not have to worry more than for our camera and the pet itself. If you have to be aware of the intensity or placement of artificial lights you will lose time and we are not interested here.
If you finally decide to use natural light, try not to directly affect the animal so that it does not generate unwanted shadows. The most advisable thing is to make this type of photos in the shade, provided that the lighting conditions are sufficient to make the photos with guarantees.
When you make your pet portraits indoors, avoid rooms that are too dark where you have to abuse a high ISO sensitivity to keep the shutter speed high and a low f number. Position yourself better in the brightest room in the house or near a window where there is plenty of light.
Before we told you that it was good that you did everything possible to make the animal feel comfortable. Well, if there is something that can disturb a pet within your photographic equipment that is certainly the flash. If people, by themselves, are no longer accustomed to flashes of light, imagine the animals.
Most likely, if you shoot a flash at a pet, it feels annoying or even threatened and does not want to continue with the session. In addition, in some animals, such as cats you will only get too bright eyes and reflections with strange colors red, blue or green.
So, whenever you can, try shooting without flash. At most it adds some softbox or remote soft light that barely bothers or a continuous light at low power. But never shoot or approach the animal with a light too intense because it will not feel comfortable and will impair the progress of the session.
As in any other portrait mode, focusing on the eyes is a safe bet. When looking at an image, our attention is unconsciously focused on the focused area of the photo, and if the eyes are not well focused we will feel an uncomfortable sensation when looking at it.
Use the automatic or manual focus to focus the eye area and bet on low apertures, but without going over. Shooting at f / 1.8 will provide you with photos with very unfocused backgrounds, but if the animal is not completely facing the camera, only one of the eyes may come out completely clear.
If you use higher openings such as f / 4 or f / 5.6 you will also get beautiful backgrounds and make sure you get more sharpness in your eyes. Another thing is that we want to focus attention on another part of the photograph and consciously blur our eyes so that our attention is focused on that other part (such as the nose, mouth or ears)
We are used to making our photos stand up, with the camera at eye level. But if we are photographing a pet while maintaining that posture, we will only get photos taken from a chopped angle where the animal will appear small and insignificant.
If you want to get beautiful and spectacular photos, try to crouch with your camera and get at the same height as the pet. With this you will be able to reinforce the feeling of closeness with him and he will gain all the prominence, being the center of attention of the composition.
Try also to take photos from different angles. If you go up somewhere you can take pictures in contrapicado, to give you a feeling of importance and magnificence. The photos taken at ground level will also be very fun and friendly.
Animals in general are tremendously expressive. They can transmit a lot of information with their eyes, with the position of their ears or with the posture of their body. Right away, you realize if they feel like playing, sleeping or leaving you alone.
Spend a little time at the beginning to observe the animal and, quickly, you will discover what your mood is during the session. With this, try to get the best out of your expressions or provoke new ones.
If it is a quiet animal, you can pet it until it falls asleep and take the opportunity to capture it during its nap time. While if it is a hyperactive and playful animal, you can provoke it to play and show its wildest side.
We are talking about making pet portraits, but you can also do joint portraits. Several animals may appear in the same photo or even the owners of the animal. Where you will feel safe and comfortable is in your arms or by your side.
In addition, the pet’s family is sure to be posing with him in more than one photo to have some memory of the session. You can also capture spontaneous moments of the pet playing with its owner. They will be much more natural and fun captures than the pure and hard inn.
If you are the owner of the pet, do not hesitate to have the camera always close and capture the most every day and intimate situations of the animal. Think that, although the scenery is beautiful, it will always be more difficult for a session to capture moments as personal as day to day.
When you make portraits of your own pets (and even more so of others) forget the screams and the demands. If you give orders to the animal and show yourself authoritarian with him, you probably won’t get anything.
It is better to think that he takes the reins of the situation. Give him something to be entertained and use another toy or call him by his name to get his attention and look at the camera. In case the session is with a foreign animal, the help of the owners will also be crucial.
When you do things right or when the session ends, it is best to reward it. You can give him some goodies to gain his confidence while you take the photos or give him a new toy to remember that moment as something satisfactory.
As we have repeatedly said, pet photo sessions have many things in common with photographs of babies and young children. Without a doubt, they are not the most manageable models when portraying.
Animals, unless they are accustomed, rarely obey what you ask. In addition, it is difficult to predict what they will do, so you will have to be quick with the camera and arm yourself with patience. Without a doubt this is the best advice. Prepare yourself psychologically for the occasion, take a deep breath, count to ten (or up to 20) and … go for it!