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opinion, tutorial / March 28, 2013

5 ways to shoot your pet


Cheech triptych

People who love their pets love to take photos of them.  The trick though is taking a photo of your pet that will show off their personality and is also a beautiful photograph that you’d be proud to put on your wall. That isn’t so easy and one of the reasons you higher a professional (hint hint).

But there are some simple tricks you can do to get good photos of you furry family members.

[highlight] 1: [/highlight]  Always get to their level.  No matter what pet you’ve got, you are most likely taller then them.  By default, you’ll take a photo from your point of view.  What you want to do is get the camera to their head level.  So get down in the grass and shoot your dachshund from grass level.  You can also get them up on something, like a couch or table to get them higher (bonus tip, they won’t run off as fast).

Terrier at park

[highlight] 2: [/highlight] Make sure you’ve got a lot of light.  Shoot outdoors when ever you can or have light streaming into a well lit room.  Lightbulbs are incredibly dim to a camera.  Our eyes adjust fine but your camera isn’t as advanced as your eye so try to get a lot of natural light.  (Second bonus; avoid using the on camera flash. It makes NO ONE look good). Also try to keep the light to your back and don’t shoot into the light.  It can make some nice effects but most of the time, it will wash out the photo so try to keep the sun behind you.

Toby sunning by the tree
[highlight] 3: [/highlight] Shoot at a higher shutter speed.  What does that mean, you ask?  It’s how short a time the sensor of your camera is exposed to the light.  Some cameras have a icon of a Runner and that will help you shoot fast moving events.  If you are in control of your camera settings, you want to be shooting at least 1/500 second or faster exposure.  On some cameras it’s called Shutter Priority so the other areas will adjust to give you the best exposure.  This is easier to do on a sunny day but can be done with many cameras now because of the better quality sensors.


[highlight] 4: [/highlight] Stay calm.  I know that sounds weird but when you get it in your head you want to take good photos of your pet, it starts to be less about the pet and more about the photo and wanting to get it “right”.  That can lead to anxiety and if you’re feeling stressed, your pet will too.  Be ready to take the photo but don’t ever force it.  It’s rare to be able to tell a animal how to pose and when you’re interacting with them by getting down to their level they most likely will want to come up and play with you which makes it harder to get the short you want with their nose in the barrel of your lens.

[highlight] 5: [/highlight]  Get help when ever you can.  Having an extra person to play with your furry family will keep them from noticing you rolling around in the grass.  I did a photo event where someone wanted a photo of them and their 8 dogs.  They brought along a small army to stand behind me to keep their attention on me and my camera.  Without that help, we would have never got them all looking at the same time.

I hope this is helpful.  Make sure that both you and your pet are having fun.  Not all pets like a giant eyeball (your lens) looking at them so work with what you can.

Stanwood dogs


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