There are a lot of pet photography ideas that are easy to put into action. Are you a beginner pet photographer? Are you thinking of starting a pet photography business? Either way, these simple tips will help you take fantastic pictures of your pet, or of someone else’s furry family member. If you’re a pet parent, these tips will help you keep a permanent record of those special moments between you and your beloved companion.
Here’s a look at how to set up a photography session with a pet, and some of the tools you’ll need to get the best possible pictures.
How To Get Your Pet’s Attention To Click A Great Photo
The first step in any successful pet photography session is getting the full attention of the animal. Pets are a lot like children in many instances, and pet photography is no exception. To put it mildly, they can be a handful. But if you’re patient and have plenty of treats on hand, you’ll be able to take some great pictures whether or not your pet is trained to sit and stay.1
You might want to consider waiting to start the photo shoot until your pet, whether they’re a dog or cat, is calm. For example, pet photography almost never works when you first get home. Wait until your pet gets out their energy before you start snapping away. If you’re going outside your home for a shoot with your dog, for example, take the dog on a walk first. That might help calm them down.2
What To Do Before The Action Shots: Some Pet Photography Ideas To Try
Like a lot of other things, pet photography tends to work best when you have a plan. Think about the kinds of images you want to get. Do you want a pic of a sleeping dog or a dog chasing a toy? Do you just want a great face shot of your smiling dog? How about your cat? What kind of shots are you looking for?3
Having an idea of the pet photography shots you want could make it easier to capture them. Thinking about the background you want may help things run more smoothly as well.4
At the same time, though, you don’t want to lock yourself into a “this or nothing” type of mindset. Planning is great, but don’t lock in so much that you don’t give spontaneity a chance. Some of the best shots are spontaneous ones.
Focal Length And Camera Settings For Pet Portrait Photography
If you really want your dog or cat pictures to look like a professional photographer took them, you’ll need the right tools. Do you want a side or front portrait of your magnificent dog? If so, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with your camera’s settings.
One of the most important considerations will be the aperture, or opening, of the lens. The aperture determines how much light gets through the lens. Aperture is expressed in a term known as “f-number,” or “f-stop,” such as f/2 or f/8. The smaller the number, the more light enters through the lens.5
If you want to give your pet’s portrait a bit of artistic flair, you can make the background a bit blurred while your pet’s face is sharp and clear. You’ll want to set your camera’s aperture on the widest setting, or the lowest number, to take this kind of close-up shot. For some cameras, that means a setting of f/2.8. For others, it could be as low as f/1.4.6
You’ll need to get close to your dog, while the dog is a few feet away from whatever the background may be. The farther the dog is from the background, the blurrier that background will be.7
Decide The Best Location And Time For The Pet Photography Photo Session
No matter what your skill level may be, good pet photography, like any other type of photography, depends on light. This can make it difficult if you want to take a photo of your dog in the yard. Outdoor light conditions can change rapidly. Try taking a photo of your dog in a shaded spot, and don’t use a flash – it might make a dog’s fur appear too shiny in a picture.8
If possible, try to wait until right before sunrise or sundown to take an outside photo of your pet. A photo just tends to look better in softer light. You won’t have a lot of time to work, though. You can lose the perfect light quickly. Try practicing pet photography outside a little bit first, so you’ll be ready when you need to take a photo within a condensed time frame.9
Want To Get Some Action Shots Of Your Pet?
When you think of pet photography, the first thing that might come to mind is a photo of a dog resting on the couch, or a cat having a snooze on your pillow. But action shots are great shots as well. You might catch your dog jumping into the pool or a lake. Or, you might get a fantastic photo of your cat pouncing on a toy.
If you want to get this type of shot, planning will be key – just like for any other type of pet photography. The most important consideration for an action shot, particularly that of a running dog, is safety. If you go to the dog park, or some other area outside your home, make sure it’s not near a busy road.10
The next challenge will be to make sure your dog or other pet stays in focus. You might want to practice around your home first. If you have a digital camera, check to see if it has a focus tracking function. Look at the owner’s manual for instructions on how to use this feature. This allows the camera to spot a moving object and to maintain its focus so that object (in this case, your dog or cat) remains sharp.11
Don’t Forget About Shutter Speed
Shutter speed, which is measured in fractions of a second, is also important. Shutter speed can create a lot of different effects, depending on the setting. It can make a running dog or a leaping cat appear razor sharp. Or, it can give the illusion of motion, by making the subject a bit blurry. It can also make the main object look sharp while the surrounding environment appears blurred.12
A shutter speed set at 1/1000th of a second will usually capture any sort of fast action. While it’s easier to control shutter speed with a digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera, there are also ways to do it on smartphones. Check your instruction manual.13
Other Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Pet Photography
Photographing pets might be a challenge, but it’s also a lot of fun. Here are a few other tips to help you take pet photos like a professional photographer.
- Props make for cute pictures – Something as simple as a cat in a box or a shoe can make for an adorable photo. A dog chewing on their favorite toy is also incredibly cute. Not only will you increase the cuteness factor, your pet may also be more comfortable being around something familiar during your photo session.
- Take plenty of pictures – Even a slight movement can turn a great picture into something you discard. Taking a large amount of pictures will help ensure you get plenty of good shots along with the disappointing ones.
- Experiment – Be creative. Try taking different shots from odd angles, or using different lenses. You might be pleasantly surprised with the results.14
Above all else, though, remember to have a great time with your cat or dog photography. Don’t worry if you can’t get the perfect picture of your beloved pet. The most important thing is that you’ll be making memories that will last for years to come.
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