We could reiterate the statistics about the money that people spend on their pets each year, but that would be pointless. You already know how much you adore your dogs, cats, rabbits, snakes, etc. They are a part of the family and as such you want to create good images of them for posterity. The main problem is that pet photography is never as easy or simple as traditional photography.
Just consider, you can at least promise kids or adults who hate having a picture taken some sort of reward for sitting still and smiling for the camera. There are not many ways you can get a dog or cat to sit still - even with the idea of a "treat" being presented. So, how can you not only use digital photography to capture good images of your pets, but images that also reflect their personality?
We are going to look at five useful tactics for documenting your pet with a camera, and also making sure that you get images that are very accurate too.
- Use burst mode - you know how your camera tends to work, it makes the shot and then displays it for a moment before allowing you to take another image. No matter where or how you are making images of a pet, you will want to use the burst or sports mode on the camera to override this usual pattern. This may be indicated by a small figure that looks like a runner or by a series of overlapping squares. The way it works is very simple...you focus on the pet who may be moving around or continually making funny expressions, and you hold down the shutter button. The camera fires a series of continuous shots until you lift your finger, and this is a fantastic way to get animals at play or even interacting with people.
- Get off of your feet - do you have a tendency to stay upright and hold the camera at an angle pointing down towards the pet? Most people do, but the best way to get good shots of the animal is to take it down to their level. Whether you sit on the ground, squat or even hold the camera close to the ground it is going to give a perspective from their point of view, and this is a wonderful way to get good results.
- Use traditional tactics - how do you usually get kids or family who hates being photographed to cooperate? You may make them laugh (play) or you may promise some sort of reward (treat). You can use this system with a pet as well, but it takes a bit of patience. Why? Because you have to begin to train them to understand that the camera means "playtime" and that it may also translate to a "treat" such as a snack or favorite food. It will only take four or five "sessions" before an animal begins to understand that digital photography means fun and even food. They will then relax and work with you to make good shots.
- Think portraits - because you want a good shot of the pet, and to also capture some element of their personality, try to create portrait-like shots and settings. This is especially true if you will use a printing service that puts photos on canvas in order to create wall art. This means to consider settings, poses, angles, lighting and all of the things that a standard portrait uses. Yes, it is tough, but so worth the effort!
- No flash - when doing pet photography it is imperative to avoid the use of the flash because it is always going to create the unwanted "red eye" syndrome. This ruins a shot and can also greatly upset the animal because of the intensity of the light in their eyes. You should try to use good natural light or work to illuminate an indoor setting as much as possible.