If you are a doting pet owner, it’s your prerogative to have meaningful images to share online, to have framed images within your home or at your workplace, and to even feature your furry friend on the annual holiday card.
This is the ultimate guide of tips for you to get the best photos of your pet, even if you find it challenging at times to get your pet to “pose.”
Environment is Essential
Photographing your pet in his comfort zone will allow you to capture a wide range of shots without the obstacles that come with a nervous and anxious cat or dog. Find a place where you know your pet loves, and where you have made memories together.
In terms of the best lighting to acquire excellent images, overcast days are ideal for photographing your pet outdoors. Overcast lighting is consistent and even, creates perfect soft shadows, and allows dogs or cats with darker coats to look their best. Rather than taking pictures in bright sunlight which creates a harsh shadowy effect, you can also opt to venture outdoors in the early morning or late evening hours to take advantage of the warm glow. Also, steer clear of using a flash, as it may frighten your pet and also result in red-eye.
Familiarize Your Dog or Cat with the Camera
Let your pet experience the sounds and flash of your camera by allowing him to listen to them before you begin your photo shoot. Walk your dog around for a bit and take various pictures of the surroundings to get him used to the unfamiliar sounds and such. Also, let him give it a good sniff! Once you begin taking pictures of him, reward him with a small treat between shots and praise him for a job well done.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Backgrounds should be simple and minimalist; you will definitely want the attention on the pet. Less distracting backgrounds may include a nice and open patch of green and lush grass for outdoors, and for indoor shots a room that is well-lit with white walls along with neutral carpet or a rug is ideal. Of course, you will want to avoid seeing any people or an unclean and cluttered background for optimum appeal. If you are unable to find a clean background, if possible, blur the background.
Pro Tip: Taking close-up photos with an evenly blurred background makes the photos look professional. Get close to your pet and keep them a few feet away from the actual background. The further he is away from the background, the blurrier the background will be, and vice versa.
Get on Their Level
Stooping down so you can look at your pet in the eye will yield better results. When images are taken from you looking down on your pet, you will have shots that are too distant and will not look as if you focused on your subject. When you are on their level, your pictures will be from the pet’s perspective rather than a “human perspective” and will be much more appealing to the viewer.
Pro Tip: Knee pads are a great solution to prevent any soreness that can occur!
Now, Get Closer
Pets love getting attention and being played with, and this includes during a picture-taking session. While it is perfectly fine to allow everyone to see the whole pet in pictures, people enjoy seeing up close shots from a variety of angles. Different angles and super-close photos enhance the small details of your pet that otherwise people wouldn’t really notice, such as those cute freckles around his whiskers, his wet and shiny nose, and those pink pads on his paws.
If your pet moves around a little too much, or if you are having a challenge getting up close while photographing him, invest in a zoom lens. A zoom lens will give the look and feel of you being close with the dog, and will still allow you to reveal his true personality and delicate features.
Treats, toys, squeakers, and noisemakers will allow you to receive and keep your pet’s attention. Keep them close to the lens and move them around the lens area to keep his eye on you, and don’t feel shy about making a variety of barking sounds and noises to keep him focused. Play along with them and keep them happy and you will keep their attention for a longer span of time.
Pro Tip: Use small treats so you don’t overfeed him.
Freezing the Action
Great action shots can be amazing. Make sure you and your camera are always ready to be one step ahead of the actions your pet will perform will give you the most accurate shots, and you may even wish to use the burst mode for many sequential and rapid shots.
Take Many Pictures, and Reward Them for It
Don’t think you are taking too many pictures, as this can never be done! The more shots you take, the greater chances of you acquiring the perfect shots of your fur baby. Reward him for a job well done in front of the camera, too! Lots of praise and small treats can really go along way, and can also strengthen the bond between the two of you.
Patience and Confidence
Remember to take time to stop and breathe, especially during those times where your pet is super active. Patience is essential when photographing your pet and there will be times where you just need to wait on him to become settled for still shots or wait on him to get more “excited” or active for action images. Have confidence in yourself and know that allowing your pet to “be himself” during your photoshoot will reveal the most personality.
Photographing your pet does not have to be a challenge and can yield professional-looking results with these tips. With practice, you will be able to achieve gorgeous pet photos in your own home or environment of your liking. The most important thing about taking many lovely pictures of your cat or dog is the memories that are made, not only in the actual photographs but in the time you both spend together. Relax and have fun, and enjoy the productive and bonding experience together!