Photographing Your Pets - The Five Mistakes to Avoid
People love to take photos of their pets. I know that whenever Moxie does something adorable, I want to photograph it. And when people find out I’m a pet photographer I’m often asked how they can take better photos of their pet.
So I’ve decided to compile the top 5 mistakes to avoid when photographing your pet. Hopefully these tips will help you avoid the most common pitfalls.
1. Using Flash:
Flash can be great for photos. It can bring that little bit of extra light you need on a subject. It can make your subject pop in the frame and it can highlight the details. However, on pets it also has the ability to make their eyes glow a weird greenish, yellow and make them look possessed. This is not a look you want when you're trying to capture your best friend.
Leave using flash to the professionals and instead use the source of light that is abundantly available - the sun.Natural light is infinitely available and the added bonus is that it makes your pet look great too.
Try to avoid the midday sun as it throws harsh shadows across your subject and can ruin the look of your photo. Instead aim for the early morning and late afternoon. The sun is much more forgiving at those times of day and adds a warmth to your photos that enhances a photo rather than detracting from it.
2. Having Cluttered Backgrounds:
We've all done it. You see your pet doing something cute and you snap a picture. However, later when you're looking at it, all you can see is the bright red jumper you left lying on your bed in the background. Or the magazines strewn across your coffee table next to where your pet is grinning at the camera. Or the long garden hose lying on the grass. Having too much stuff going on the background of your photos takes attention away from your subject.
Sometimes this situation is unavoidable. When you’re just trying to capture a fleeting moment before your pet moves, I say it's best to grab the photo and deal with the background later.
However, if you're planning to take some photos, it's always best to have a look around the area first and remove any unwanted items. Take the time to wind up that garden hose and put it back where it belongs, move any of your kids toys out of the way. Anything that might distract from your subject should go. This will make it so much easier to photograph them naturally as you don't have to worry about anything else being in the way or having to move things later.
3. Using Your Pet’s Name to Get Their Attention:
We've all been there. We have the camera all lined up. Your dog is perfectly in frame and everything looks great...except that they're looking the wrong way. So you do it, you call their name to get them to look at you. Unfortunately, instead of just looking at you, your dog invariably gets up and comes over to you, ruining your shot and making you want to howl at the wind for being so cruel. You were "so close"!!
But before you lament your luck and blame your dog for moving, let's take a look at this scenario again from your pet’s point of view.
You called their name and they came to you.
In other situations they've probably been rewarded for this behaviour. In fact, it's a behaviour most pet owners want, a dog that comes when called. So before you go blaming your dog for ruining the photos take a look at what you did that could have changed the outcome.
If you're anything like most pet owners you've trained your dog or cat to come when they are called. Granted not everyone's pet responds every time but you can pretty much guarantee that the majority of pets do. It's the most basic of commands and even pets that don't know a lot of tricks, know this one.
So next time, instead of calling your dog’s name, try something else to get their attention. Try using weird noises, squeaky toys or even whispering. High quality words like ‘walk’, ‘food’, ‘dinner’ etc can work well. These will all get your dog to look at you for that brief moment so you can snap the photo and get the shot. Just don’t use them too often or they lose their value.
4. Not Paying Your Model:
Can you imagine going to work for eight hours everyday and then at the end of the week when you’re expecting to get paid, your boss ignores you instead? There's no money, heck, there's not even a bit of praise for a job well done!
How would you feel? Pretty steamed, I bet. Would you work for them after that?
I think we can all agree that if we didn't get paid we wouldn't be working for someone for very long.
And yet we expect our pets to. We ask them to do something for us and they comply because they love us. But then we don't acknowledge how great they were and we don't reward them for their behaviour. If that were you, would you be likely to do the same thing again?
You bet your booty you wouldn't!
So remember to pay your models.
It can be with a treat, with lavish praise or going for a walk. Whatever you want, just remember that your pet will be more likely help you by repeating the behaviour you want if you reward him appropriately.
5. Not Capturing Your Pet's Eyes:
You all know the saying, "the eyes are the window to the soul".
This holds true to pet photography as well. We all have those cute sleeping pics of your pet, the ones that make you go "aww" and bring a smile to your face but as much as we love those photos they aren't that dynamic.
It's only once you see their eyes that you begin to see their personality. Are they wise, old souls looking to impart wisdom? Cheeky, mischief makers out to cause trouble? Whip smart and energetic and always on the lookout for their next game of ball? Your pets eyes show all this to the viewer.
Being able to see a pets eyes in their photos truly gives your photo that extra something that will bring a smile to your face whenever you view them. They are they photos that my clients buy and they are the photos that you will treasure.
These are just a few of the mistakes that you can try to avoid when taking photos of your pets. So that, maybe, the next time you try to show your co-worker yet another photo of your beloved pooch, they’ll see and agree - that your dog is the best dog there is!
And if you are looking to get some professional images of your pet - please contact me about a session.
HAVE WE CONNECTED ON INSTAGRAM?