::: Whoa! Hold your scroll there people :::
If you're a pet parent who goes into their camera roll and all you can see is a bunch of photos of your dog (or cat) then this is the post for you.
Annnd… if all you photos either involve them sleeping or being a complete blur as they move… then this post is for you.
Today I'm going to share with you, 5 tips to help you take better photos of your pets.
This is no means an exhaustive list but what it is.... are steps that you can implement yourself to dramatically improve your fur kid's photos.
Let's get to it:
This one sounds simple but it really isn't. Plus this is the step that's most often overlooked but often the most crucial.
Patience plays an important role in pet photography. Unlike most human models (even with small kids) you often don't get to ask dogs or cats to stand in a certain way, drop their chin, cross their arms and smile.
It's simply not going to happen.
Unless you have a really well trained dog (and that's very rare in my line of work). Most dogs might have a sit command, possibly a stay if I'm lucky but the majority of pets I encounter during my sessions can only hold these poses for a minute at best, usually 30 seconds or less, more often.
That's normal for most pet owners.
So instead of trying to force your dog to do something for longer than they usually would and making them anxious to please you (which usually involves them trying harder to get closer to you - thus ruining your photo).
It's a much better idea to have a little patience yourself. When you're patient with your pet not only will they be calmer and more relaxed, allowing you more opportunities to photograph them but you will also start to see more moments yourself where you can photograph them.
Instead of you trying to get them to do that cute thing they always do, in the 10 minutes you've scheduled for it, you can patiently wait them out.
And then when they do that cute pose naturally, since you're already set up to take their photo...
BAM!! You'll be able to capture it painlessly when it does occurs.
Patience is a professional pet photographer's best friend so I encourage you to try it yourself.
No matter how green your grass, your backyard is usually not the best looking environment to photograph your pet in, unless it's a cat (99.9% of my cat sessions occur within a client's home and/or backyard).
Not because your backyard isn't comfortable for your pet but mostly because it's a bit boring to look at.
The majority of backyards I see involve green grass, some shrubbery and a fence. Needless to say, this doesn't create a lot of visual interest in your photographs. Or variety in them.
That's usually why I suggest a location outside your home.
While the focus should always be your pets in an photograph, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't pay attention to your surrounding area and background.
The backdrop of an image can really make or break it.
If you take a photo of the cutest dog in the world but it's overshadowed by the pile of laundry in the corner of your room, plus the shoes you have lined up near the door - what do you think your eyes will be drawn to?
The dog? Or the pile of laundry?
You need to make sure that your pet is the main focus of your portrait.
And your background should highlight and compliment your pet, not draw attention away from it.
So make sure to take the time to clear the area of any less than pleasing elements before you start snapping photos.
In a photographer's world, everything comes down to lighting.
We are always chasing the best light or learning techniques to combat lighting situations that are less than ideal.
But since you guys probably aren't as obsessed with lighting as much as we are I'm going to give you some 'best practices'.
First off, use natural lighting aka the sun in your photographs.
The flash on your phone's camera generally will make your pet's eyes glow an evil green colour (which is not what you want in your photos unless its Halloween).
And most often, the lights in your home are warmer than natural light and cast a yellow/orange tint through your images.
So natural light will serve you best and be the easiest for you to use.
BUT... that also doesn't mean anytime of the day will work.
Avoid the middle of the day.
Early morning and late afternoon light work best for photographs as the sun is less harsh at those times of day and won't cause those hard, ugly shadows to fall cross your subject.
Another good rule of thumbs when photographing your pet is to change your perspective.
Oftentimes you'll be taking your photos from the position that you most often see your pets from... above them and shooting downwards.
And while these can make for some very cute photos you can often get more variety and different details by changing your perspective.
What does this mean exactly?
Get down on their level and take photos with you on the ground, shooting straight on.
Place them on a higher object (not dangerously high - make it something that they can jump down from easily and safely by themselves) and shoot them from below looking up at them.
Changing up your angles and positions will enable you to photograph your pets from different perspectives and that in turn will give you more variety in your images.
5. Play Breaks
Ahhhh.... the most important one of all... play breaks.
Remember that your pet is just that, a pet.
They don't know that you're trying to photograph them.
They don't understand that you want these images to hang on your wall for years to come.
They don't even know what a photograph is.
They just know that you're here and they want to play with you.
They want you to throw the ball. They want to play zoomies with you and sniff everything in sight as much as they can.
So in between taking your photos make sure you've made time for play breaks.
Breaks where you can lavish affection on your dog and play with them because besides the fact that will make both you and your dog happy, it's also a good way to keep their interest up while you're photographing them.
Nothing makes them more bored and likely to misbehave that being asked to do the same thing for a prolonged amount of time.
So make sure you break things up for them and give them play breaks.
Your pets and your photographs will thank you.
So there you have it, 5 tips to helps you get better photos of your pets.
Which one are you going to try first? Let me know in the comments below.
And if you're thinking about your own session, pop your email in below and grab my full price list.
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