Pet pictures are adorable in and of themselves, which is the reason why there are millions upon millions of them on the internet. One of the things that separates the few really great ones from the rest is the use of props to enhance the photo, as a technique to really bring out the personality of the pet. The accomplished pet photographer will also use them to get some expression or attention from the subject being photographed with a squeaky toy or by dangling something fun (or edible) on a string to really get a great reaction.
Many photographers who take pictures of pets have likened the process to taking pictures of children, especially very young children. You’re going to do something to capture their attention, while at the same time letting them drop their guard so the picture brings out all their natural adorability. You just have to know the right tricks. For instance, the favorite of cats, the laser pointer, can be an excellent tool. If you don’t have one of those, the old ball of yarn or just a ribbon tied to a stick might do the trick. Dogs respond to high-pitched sounds. Try a squeaky toy or just a whistle to get them to look in your direction.
Choosing the Right Prop
As useful as props are for catching the attention of pets, they may be used to enhance the final pictures themselves. The right props offer the pet something to interact with, allowing you to capture aspects of their personalities you might not otherwise see.
There’s no need to overcomplicate things. If there’s too much going on, it will distract from the focus, or distract the pet being photographed too much. You want the picture to be engaging, not just a cluster of stuff surrounding a dog.
At most, there should be two props, something that won’t overwhelm your pet, like a giant ball of yarn next to a small kitten, or nothing too small, like a tennis ball and your Great Dane. It should be brightly colored and interesting, which can sometimes overcome size problems, like your kitten poking his head out of a boot. If the pet is playing with the prop, bright colors will make the whole scene look that much more playful.
Above all, keep it natural.
A Few Suggestions
A favorite toy is always good as a prop – at least you can be sure your pet will interact with it, but props go far beyond just something to play with. Many people like to dress up their animals, and if your pet will tolerate it, you can do the same, giving your pet a new and fun look. If you can pull this off, you can come up with some great unique pictures for days to come.
Here are a few more ideas to look at when it comes time for you to add a little something to your pet photos:
- Furniture: Just putting your pet on a cushion, a chair, or in a beanbag can add so much for so little work.
- Yarn: Mentioned before, because this a wonderful object for kittens, as long as the kitten isn’t hidden behind it. (Though a picture of a kitten poking its head up from behind a massive ball of yarn can be adorable, it’s very difficult to arrange.)
- Bunny ears: These don’t just make some humans cuter – they work great for pets, too, especially if you have pets that are not particularly rabbit-like. Fuzzy bunny ears on a husky or German Shepherd can be hilarious, because of the contrast.
- Footwear: This is another favorite. The kitten in the boot is a common theme, but as we all know, dogs love to chew on these. These are often the same kind of thing as the ball of yarn for kittens, when it comes to puppies. A little puppy attacking a shoe nearly as large as he is could make a picture that induces smiles for decades to come.
- Headwear: You may have to be quick to do this one, or have a really patient pet, but if you can do it, hats and/or wigs look absolutely adorable on pets. Whether they look like they enjoy it, or have that sort of soulful long-suffering look when you take the shot, it can all make for great photography. Chances are your pet will try to take it off, which is why you might have to be quick on the shutter button when you try this. You can include sunglasses or glasses frames in this category, for giving your pet a cool or erudite look.
- Baskets: Another good one for puppies and kittens (or bunnies, or any other small pets you may have). Just set the pet in the basket and take the picture.
These are just a few suggestions. You, or whoever knows the pet best, know best what interests them, so you can take the best picture possible, and share via social media or to your friends’ digital picture frames.
Shariq Toor is Content Strategist and Outreach Expert works with the digital photo frame experts at Nixplay. He loves discovering the latest trends in Technology, Social Media, and Health. In his off time, he practices landscape photography and keeps up with his favorite sports. Follow him on Twitter @Shariqtoor.