- Pet Photography Tips and Tricks
Pets are active in nature and it can be a struggle to keep them still. This is a problem that troubles many pet owners, and why our collective team had their first Pet Photography workshop at Kingsize studios, in Auckland. We've collated some helpful tips from our favourite pet photographers Catherine Holmes @catherineholmesphotography and Craig Bullock @furtographynz.
Our models for our Pet Photography workshop loved their Ziwi Treats.
Take some time to get to learn the dog you’re photographing, understand the basics of animal behaviour and body language. Be extremely aware of how the dog is reacting to what you’re doing, Remember, animals can’t tell you when they have had enough, so make sure you keep a watchful eye, watch for queues and make sure you don’t push their boundaries.
Never risk the comfort of the animal just to get the shot.
Take the time to relax your pet and make them comfortable with the camera, move slowly and try not to startle them.
Remember patience is key with pets.
Choose a fast shutter speed to freeze the action and you’ll be able to catch that perfect shot.
They say eyes are the windows to the soul, so try to keep your focus on the animals most expressive part - their eyes! Or if your pet has something unique about them, try your best to capture that.
Get down low and shoot from your pets perspective - 90% of pet photography is lying on the floor.
Find out if dog is food driven, play driven, or affection driven and use that to your advantage. Ask the owner what the dogs’ “buzz” words are. (walkies, treats etc.) Always use positive reinforcement, dogs have short attention spans, so be considirate and award them for good behaviour. Use treats sparingly. If you bring them out at the start, you’re going to just get knocked over a lot.
Dogs respond better to sounds, cats are more stimulated visually. Don’t be scared to use your voice. The weirder the sounds the better. It’ll get the dog to look up at you and get their ears to perk up. Make a high pitched whimpering noise which gets weird looks from everyone but often gets the face you’re looking for! Dogs and cats get bored with the same toys and noises so have a variety to switch it up. - Cats don’t care about your dumb noises but they might respond more to toys. A simple long stick with a bit of string tied to it, is a great solution. It also makes it easier for the assistant to stay out of shot and dangle the string into frame.
Think about what you would like to be the focus of your image.
The rule of thirds is a good thing to consider, see example here. Focus is on left eye of Dog, and a slight crop to the image makes it much more appealing.
Make sure you consider your background, any bright colours or shapes can distract from your subject. Try using a faster lens, so you can use a shallow depth of field, this will seperate your subject nicely from the background. Try use a zoom lens, and zoom in on the dog, this will cut out any distractions, if that doesn’t work, try a different angle.
Make sure your focus is on the eyes. This creates an immediate connection with your subject.
Dogs can be very frustrating to work with, you don’t speak the same language! Be very patient and don’t expect to have a winning shot every time. You will more likely have 100 times more misses than hits with your photos, so keep practising and don’t give up.
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