Saturday, November 20, 2010

Top 7 SIMPLE Tips to Photograph Your Pet Like a Pro!

It’s easier than you think to make a huge difference in your pet's photographs. 

1. Get Down on Their Level!  The number one mistake people make is they take the picture standing up.  You will be amazed how big of a difference squatting, sitting, or even laying down on the ground as you take the picture makes.  This is what separates the pro looking photos from the amateurs.     

2. Go Outside and Turn OFF your Flash.  Natural lighting is EXTREMELY important, don’t skimp here.  The good news is you already have free access to the best possible professional lighting: the sun! Your camera will capture glorious crisp detail outdoors and blurred disappointing shots indoors. Direct sunlight is not the best, an overcast day or in the shade (not dappled but full) is ideal.   If yours is strictly an indoor pet and taking them outdoors is dangerous, go to the largest, brightest window in your house and stand by it.  Shoot with the light coming from behind you onto your pet or slightly from the side. 

3. Get Ready First.  Pets have an extraordinarily short attention span.  If you want them looking alert and beautiful, you have a very short window.  Take a few test shots before the pet is even around to check lighting, positioning and camera settings.  Most digital cameras allow you to freeze their action by using a fast shutter speed. Set this ahead of time and turn off your flash.  You will be using a squeaky toy but don’t squeak it or even let them see it or the treat until you are already in position, down low, have the lighting right, and have tested your camera and have your finger on the shutter.  This may seem like a lot but in reality in only takes 2-3 minutes and is often the difference between a dog’s attentive eyes looking at you or a wagging, blurred tail moving away from you. 

4. Hold a Squeaky Toy or Treat.  You want to capture your pet’s personality?  Then capture their attention!  Hold a squeaky toy right next to your camera and when everything is set up, squeak it and click the picture at the same time.  If your dog responds better to treats, use them.  Use both.  Cats respond well to things like fluttering feathers.  You need to be the most interesting thing around to your pet, so remove any other pets or distractions.   A word of caution: Often they are excited and will want to come toward you as you're trying to get a shot. This will ruin your picture.  Have a friend hold them back by their collar or leash if this is the case.  If you are going to use these pictures to have a portrait drawn or painted, the collar and leash (and friend!) can easily be omitted by the artist.  If you don’t hold them back, you will probably end up with a blurry picture and a nose print on your lens.  If no one is around to help, just hook their leash onto something and stand out of their reach. 

5. Take Multiple Shots.  Just keep clicking away. Digital film is free, right?  So just take many, many, many shots and delete all but the best.  Pets are unpredictable and the best looking shot is often in the middle of a lot of terrible ones.  

6. Plain Backgrounds are Best.  You want the focus on your pet, and in particular your pet’s eyes, with nothing to distract attention from them.  This is less important if you are having a portrait drawn or painted as, again, the artist can remove items from the scene.

7. Get Closer. Pro photographers have a saying: Get three steps closer than you think is necessary.  Your pet's face or body should fill the entire picture.  Zoom in.  Far away shots are without question the least interesting.  Often I have the sad task of squinting at far away dots which are the only pictures an owner has of a beloved pet which passed away before they got any good pictures of them.  Trying to make out a pet’s looks and personality is much more difficult when they are not up close and personal. 

These are the secrets that professionals use to get studio quality results.  Armed with this information you too can get fantastic photographs of your pets.  Happy Shooting!