This article is contributed by guest author Dakota Murphey (Freelance Writer).
How To Create Beautiful Pet Photos
Your pet is part of the family, so it’s no wonder that you want to have beautiful portraits of them for your family album or as decor around your home just as you would other members of the family. When they’re taken well, pet photos can be truly beautiful and can exude the personality and character of your beloved furry friends. But as anyone who has tried to take a photo of their pets will tell you, it can be a challenge, particularly if you have an especially energetic animal on your hands. If you’re looking to expand your portfolio and skillset with stunning pet photos that will delight owners, here are a few tips to help you get started.
Capture their personality
The first step in producing images that are truly striking and memorable is capturing the full spectrum of the animal’s personality. Each pet is unique and has its own character, whether they’re vibrant and love to let their presence be known or they’re more reserved and calm.
Going beyond the basics to capture these elements really help in showcasing what makes your pet special and the features of their personality that make them who they are. Maybe you capture your dog mid-excited bark as a family member comes home from work or watching the world go by in the garden. These photos are guaranteed to be more interesting and beautiful than simply a photo of them sitting on their dog bed.
Get them moving
On a similar note, getting your pet moving can add dynamism and interest to your portrait. After all, pets are active creatures and an image of them stationary may not be the best representation of them and how they spend most of their time. Action shots are notoriously difficult to capture well, but they’re not impossible and the results are fantastic.
In an interview with MPB, wildlife photographer Sasan Amir advises that “when reviewing the results [of your images], look for motion blur in the images. If so, hold the camera steadier and increase the shutter speed. It also takes time to get used to the focus in fast movements and to find the right setting on the camera to make it easier to focus”. With a bright space and experimenting with the settings of your camera for a faster shutter speed, you can snap your pets in motion with minimal blur.
Pay attention to the lighting
Lighting makes all the difference when you’re shooting, especially when you’re photographing animals that live primarily indoors such as cats. Indoor lighting can leave your images looking dull and discoloured, which isn’t a good representation of your beloved pets. If you have no choice but to photograph indoors, a small handheld LED ring light can work well to brighten up your shots and make it easier to capture detail and colouring.
Alternatively, you can always plan your shots when the light is pouring in to maximise the natural light as much as possible and take advantage of that golden hour lighting. There are likely to be certain sun traps around the property where you can take stunning photos without the need for lighting equipment.
Make it fun
A great way to add movement and expression to your photos is to make the photoshoot fun for the animal, and this can also help you to sidestep the more classic portrait set-up. It keeps your pet engaged, and can also make for some brilliant shots too. Try throwing their favourite toy, give them a treat or get them to play with a family member while you take more candid shots. These are often the best images of the day and allow you to capture great expressions, while also keeping them motivated to stay active while you’re snapping photos.
Shoot from their level
The eyes are the windows into the soul, as the old saying goes, so they should be the focus of your image. It’s also one of the most effective ways of capturing the personality of the animal too, which as we’ve discussed can really help bring your portraits to life. Shooting from the eye level of the animal can help in creating a more intimate perspective and gives you the chance to bring out the emotion of the photo.
If you’re shooting from your own eye level, it’s harder to get those expressions and your photo will lack the character you’re trying to capture. Photographer Rahul Sachdev suggests getting to ground level with the animal:
“It helps simply because by changing your perspective you change the distance between the subject and the background. The greater this distance, the greater the chance there is of the shallower depth of field coming into play and that of the subject standing out.”
Patience is paramount
Just as when you’re working with toddlers or babies, patience can go a long way when it comes to getting better images. If they’re not in the mood or they’re tired and grumpy, it’s going to translate in the photos you get, so take your time and wait until their mood shifts. If it’s your own pet you’re photographing, keep the camera ready so you can snap a few shots when they’re calmer and more amenable to having their picture taken.
If you’re taking photos for a client, you don’t necessarily have this luxury, but you may find it helpful to wait until they’ve calmed down after the excitement of seeing a new person or being in a different location. Also, in the case of dogs, taking them out for a walk or playing with them for a bit first can help to burn off some of that excited energy before you start taking photos.
Though challenging at times, pet photos can be incredibly beautiful with the right balance of light and motion, and for pet owners, they make for wonderful treasured items of their four-legged friends.