Beginner’s Guide to Pet Photography

If social media sites tell us anything, it’s that people love taking pictures of their pets.

For many of us, our beloved pets are our furry children and we want to share the joy they bring us through the medium of photography.

As anyone with a pet can attest to, taking a great photograph of them is nigh near impossible – let’s face it, animals don’t make very good subjects – their energetic and curious natures are hard to capture because they’d rather be doing anything except stand still so you can take a photo.

The other reason you might not be taking a good pet photo is your technique. As with any sort of photography, focus, composition and exposure play an important part. However, you have to approach these areas differently than with other kinds of photography, because you’re dealing with a different sort of subject.

This blog is going to look at some basic tips to taking great photos of your pets. If, after reading this, you still can’t get what you want, it might be time to call in a professional pet photographer.

Animal participation

Unless you can train your pet very well to sit still long enough to take a photo, you’re going to need to provide some encouragement. And by encouragement, I mean anything at your disposal to get their attention on you, rather than that ball, or that bird and or that person walking by your house … you get the idea.

The best way to get your pet’s mind off the camera (or anything else for that matter) is with a bone or a squeaky toy. If used well, you can direct its gaze where you want it. But be sure not to wait too long to fire that shutter – it won’t be long until their attention has been pulled to something else.

Snow Leopard Shoot

Snow Leopard

If you’re having trouble, don’t be afraid to just wait and let the moment happen ‘naturally’ – the best photos are always taken this way anyway. Failing that, you can always enlist the help of someone else to entertain your pet while you shoot away.

Exposure

You may need to adjust your exposure setting to compensate for animals with dark and light fur, because it can play with the camera’s metre. If you’ve had photos where their fur comes up looking either dull or a different colour, the exposure is probably the culprit. It’s also for this reason that you will want to avoid bright backgrounds.

Dog shoot

Puppy shoot with a dark background

You may have to play around a bit with + or – exposure to get it right.

Also remember that, just like humans, pets eyes can appear bright green when the flash has reflected. You can usually fix this issue in Photoshop though.

Focus

The eyes are the best part of the animal to focus on to get a nice, crisp image. If you have a dog with a long snout, you will need a larger depth of field to make sure the tip of the nose isn’t out of focus. If this is happening to you, try using a small aperture or taking a shoot when their head is turned.

Sphynx Shoot

Sphynx

It can also be difficult to capture your pet in action. The best way to grab a good shot of them on the move is to simply use a fast shutter speed or the continuous mode.

Composition

Getting the composition right for pet photography is something that requires a bit of experimentation and a hell of a lot of practice. One rule that you should follow religiously (especially to those who are new to this) is to pick background without too much going on – so it doesn’t shift the attention away from your pet.

Get out there and start playing around with angles, distances and different lenses.

If you follow these tips, you should be taking better photos of your pet in no time.

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