By Sherry Spivey
Everyone loves pictures of their pets. Flip through any phone, click on any computer, or look through any photo album and you’ll see pictures of dogs, cats, hamsters, horses, and pot-bellied pigs. We display many of our pet photos in our home right next to our beloved family members. Pets are family too! And just like human portraits, great photographs of your pets start with a little preparation.
Get your camera and any other gear ready first. You want to get your shots quickly before everyone’s patience wears thin. Make sure your battery is charged and you have an empty card in the camera. Scout out a good backdrop. If you have a dark animal use a light background if at all possible. Clean backgrounds make for nice pictures that focus on the subject. Take note of the light and how it will either highlight or silhouette the subject. Sometimes a little light behind the animal will make a glowing edge to the fur. It’s a nice touch.
Then prep the animal. Make sure they are well groomed. Get rid of any stray hair, annoying collars or tags that you don’t want to be in the picture.
- Focal point should be the eyes. That’s a major difference between a so-so photo and a keeper. Those eyes should be piercing and as sharp as possible.
- Get down to eye level or lower with the animal. Sometimes this takes some creativity. I will use a hill or slope to give me a nice angle. But I also bring a towel and get down on my tummy. Be willing to experiment with the angle. This makes a huge difference in the finished photo. Get down to their level and see the world from their view.
- Have a helper if possible. Someone to wrangle the animal and help keep it in position. Someone to squeak the toy or feed the snacks is almost crucial to allowing you to concentrate on taking the pictures.
- Try not to use a flash. Animal eyes are reflective and you will get some demon possessed pictures using a flash. The eyes will always come out weird if you do.
- Patience is a virtue, especially when photographing animals. They do the cutest things usually right after you set your camera down! Take your time and keep the camera ready to go. Also, have patience with your pet. They don’t care about your photos.
- Take lots of pictures. Animals expressions change rapidly. They stick out their tongues, flick their ears and wag their tails. Sometimes rapidly. Taking lots of images allows you to pick the best expression. The beauty of the digital age is that it doesn’t cost you to take as many photos as you would like. So use that to your advantage.
- Make sure you get close to the animal. Fill the frame. Close ups can really capture the animal in an up close and personal way.
- Take lots and lots of photos as often as you can. Our animals age quickly and don’t live nearly long enough. When they have gone on, those photos will be all you have left of them.
When you are done with your session, have a play time with your animal and reward them for being patient with you.
There are loads of ways you can use your awesome photos. Check out digital scrapbooking. It’s a great way to use some of your pictures.