Photographing Your Four-Legged Friends

December 19, 2013

Photographing Your Four-Legged Friends

Anyone who has ever said that diamonds are a girl's best friend has never met me and my little dogs. I adore them (I have two) and they are most certainly my dearest and closest friends.

But as much as I love them, they can hardly be counted on to be patient and cooperative subjects when it comes to snapping their photos. Pet photography can be a real challenge!

Here are some hints for helping you capture your favorite furry friend on (digital) film:

    • Your camera settings can go a long way toward ensuring success when photographing your pet:
      • Keep in mind that pets, like children, are quickly moving creatures. For that reason, it's important to use a fast shutter speed to freeze any movement and reduce the odds of a blurry subject.
      • In order to increase your shutter speed as much as possible, move to a higher ISO if your camera gives you that option.
      • If you're shooting with a point and shoot, use the Pet Mode if your camera has one.
      • If your camera features a continuous shooting mode, sometimes called burst mode, use that to increase your chances of getting a good shot.
      • If the only flash available is your camera's onboard unit, forgo it and opt for working with existing light only. The harsh, direct light of an onboard flash unit not only causes funky eye effects in animals, it can also startle the little guys. If that's your option, alternatively work with natural light by shooting outdoors or indoors near a large, bright window. But if you have access to an external flash unit, use it to fill in the shadows and freeze the subject's movements. Just be sure to avoid pointing the flash directly at the animal and instead bounce the light off of the ceiling or walls.

Pet Photography
  • We all know that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Well that applies to our furry friends too. So focus especially on the eyes and keep them tack sharp in all of your photos.

    Pet Photography
  • Get down on their level. If at all possible, try to shoot your images at your subject's eye level or below to add a level of intimacy and capture a view of the world from your pet's perspective.

    Pet Photography
  • Don't overlook the power of bribery! A cookie or other treat may be just the trick for eliciting a bit of cooperation from your furry friend. Most dogs especially are prone to food fixation. Use that to your advantage by putting the treat just out of the animals reach. I've actually been known to put a cookie or two—my dogs love animals crackers—on the top of my head to keep my dog's gaze fixed for an intimate portrait style photo.

    Pet Photography
  • You can also try sneaking up on your pet and catching a shot when they're engaged and interested in something else. This type of shot is especially effective for capturing the animal in the activities that they most enjoy and, therefore, capturing a important part of their personality as well.
  • Use your zoom lens to catch the intimate and personal details of your friend. Zoom in to capture a close-up of your pet's face, their fur, or even fill the frame with the curl of their tail, the pads of their paws, or even a single eye. Zooming in can help to catch the small details that make them so wonderfully unique.

For Further Reading…

9 Pet Photography Tips

Tips From a Pro: Gary Parker's Dog Photography


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