We love our pets. In our minds they have no equal on this planet. So why don’t the pictures we take of them make them look like they are the best in the whole entire world? Whether you have a Chihuahua or a Cockatoo, you can follow a few quick tips to make help make your beloved companions shine in pictures as much as they shine in your life.
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One of the biggest mistakes of animal photography is the angle that we take the picture. It is just too easy to grab a camera and point it down at Fluffy, who may be looking adorable, but the results are just flat and uninteresting because you aren’t capturing the eyes – and we all know the eyes are the windows into the soul. The next time your feline friend is caught in the act chasing that toy mouse across the carpet, try getting down on her level to catch all the action. The results will be much more engaging and natural.
Speaking of natural, try taking your pet out of the studio and outside. Shooting your pet lizard on a natural sunny branch, or your pet reptile curled up in the green grass will automatically show more of their natural beauty and personality. If you can’t trust your iguana outside, try using a vey shallow depth of field (low f/stop) to blur the background out entirely making them stand out and giving them an otherworldly look.
Skip the Costumes
Trust me, nobody really wants to see a Weiner dog in a hot dog suit no matter how cute you think they look in it. Skip the costumes, masks, or props that make your canine pal look unnatural. Instead, include their favorite leash, cold weather sweater, rain boots (if they wear them), really anything you would see them in everyday can be included in the photo shoot. I am not, however, against adding a bow or ribbon to your Shiatsu’s flowing hair for any occasion.
Show their Personality
You know your pet the best; so use those beloved personalities in their close-ups. Is your pet active, then shoot them chasing a favorite toy. Does your ferret like to cuddle, then shoot him with his favorite blanket. Show Goldie playing hide-and-seek in the aquarium if that’s her favorite pastime. It is those endearing traits that make them so special to you, so highlight them in your images.
Try Different Angles
Mix up the angle that you are using. You’ll never know if Thumper the rabbits profile is better on the right or left side if you don’t try both. Add an artistic flair by photographing them from below, or try your hand with wide-angle or specialty lenses like a fisheye lens to accentuate that schnoz you love so much. Creativity is key in finding just the right way to show off the very best side of your best friend.
Create the Look
We all know that our pets love us as much as we love them, especially at dinnertime. Use food as a means to get and keep their attention on the camera. Place their favorite treat on the lens for results will that show all the love you know they feel for you. Try to get creative by tossing them their favorite treat and capturing the action of the midair take down. The results can be amazing and hilarious. Toss in a little extra catnip and be ready to get all the ensuing action.
Other ways to keep your pets attention where you want it if you’re worried about all those extra calories is to use the squeak of their favorite toy or by making an unexpected noise like jangling of keys or loud clap in the direction you want them to look.
So the next time it is Fidos turn to model, try some of these tricks to make them shine in their very best light.
Karen Foley is a freelance photographer, writer and frequent contributor to dreamtime.com. See more of her work at karenfoleyphotography.com.