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Wanting to know how to take the perfect pet picture? Nadia Crighton investigates how to perfect your pet photography.
During my time as an Editor at a popular pet magazine, I learnt a lot about how to best take a picture of our beloved furry friends. Some of my best memories at the magazine would be the front-cover shoot. At times we would have 10 crazy pups running around. Why 10 you may ask? After my first shoot (with just two pups) we quickly realized that the more pups, the easier it was to find one who would sit quietly and pose for the camera. Normally being the tired one.
Having so many pups running around at once is not an ideal setting for a photo-shoot. So ensuring we had the right photographer who could adapt to this environment was very important. Needless to say we delivered many adorable front cover images to happy fans around the world. But what about you at home, what things can you do to stage the perfect pet photo-shoot?
Most of the armature photography is now done using a smart phone. With the quality and technology constantly evolving many of the best pet images are now taken on the humble mobile device. So you’ve spotted your stunning cat playing in the long grass with a butterfly and luckily you have your smart-phone on hand. Tips?
- Get down on the ground and at eye level with your cat.
- Remember to walk quietly so you do not disturb them in their picturesque moment.
- Where is the sun? Have your back to the sun, but look out for your shadow in the shot. To avoid this zoom-in until your shadow disappears.
- Get creative…move to the other side. So that the sun is in your lens. Now laydown until you can make your cat block out the sun with their body and head. Snap and check.
- Think about adding some ‘negative space’ or area around your pet. In other words don’t fill the entire image with just a close up. Even try framing your pet to one side so you can also capture the scenery behind.
Staging the Perfect Snap
If you want to stage the perfect picture of your dog or cat consider the time of day. Think shadows. Overcast days are perfect or first thing in the morning. Also Think outside the box and get creative.
- Pop your dog on a table and get them to sit. Please have a ‘spotter’ or someone behind the table with a hand on your dog while you do the photo-shoot. Now lie on the floor and shoot upwards at your dog. The blue sky will frame them perfectly with no shadows. You can get some really interesting angles with your dog or cat. This is a great way to shoot little dogs and you can get some wonderful and interesting shots. If you leave a lot of negative space you can always add some words later and use the image on cards and invitations.
- Get your dog chewing their favorite toy under a tree. Think colours here. Really green grass, bright red dog-toy. Have your dog lying with front paws out. This shot works great with big dogs. Lie down so you are shooting from their paws up. Again, utilize the shadows and position your dog in the shade with the sun behind you.
TIPS for Success!
- Work on your dogs training so that they will ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ when told.
- Need to get your dog’s attention…click or squeak with your lips (not too loudly or they may move). If the dog is well trained you can use a squeaker toy. It’s a good idea to have help, so have someone squeak the toy behind your head, or too the side. Think about where you want the dog/cat to be looking. Cats can be a little different. They will tend to run the photo-shoot, so go with the flow.
- Think about your surroundings…what is behind the dog/cat? Clean backgrounds. Think green grass, leaves, and pretty trees. Set the perfect scenery before you add your dog or cat. Think about what you really want. For example, a brown dog laying in pile of red and brown leaves with bare trees behind on an overcast day, maybe even a slight breeze so you catch some leaves falling in the background = perfection!
- When you look through your lens look at the background. Negative space. Framing.
- Make sure you have water on hand and some treats.
- Get set-up before bringing your dog on set, including your ideas, toys and camera settings. Take the photo before adding the pet. Are you happy with the whole image in the background?
- Keep a damp cloth on-hand to clean dirty patches or slobber marks.
- Take ‘play’ breaks.
- HAVE FUN…sometimes the best images are the ones taken during the play-time at a shoot.
A BIT ABOUT THE BLOGGER:
Nadia Crighton is a well-known and accomplished Australian Journalist and pet magazine Editor. As a busy mum of four humans, two dogs, 50 sheep, three cats, three axolotl’s, a handful of chickens and a goat named Billy, she simply adores pets of all shapes and sizes. These are her personal thoughts and advice from many years of pet-ownership.