Last Saturday afternoon I had the pleasure of photographing Parker, a three-month old puppy. Parker has fantastic personality – he’s sociable, friendly and so full of energy. I don’t normally photograph pets, however I had such a great fun photographing Parker and I came away with great-looking images.
Have you ever thought about how you could take pictures of your pet like a pro? Well, with a few simple tips you can create something special that you’re proud of to show to your family and friends whilst creating a lasting memory of your pet at the same time.
#1 Pick a suitable location
Location is really important. Ideally choose an outdoor location that allows sufficient space for the dog but without too many distractions. It could be difficult to photograph a dog indoors as there is limited space and often the light condition is poor. A local park or a garden works really well as it’s an open space, which provides plenty of light. Of course the quality of light also depends on the time of the day. A cloudy day works well or if it’s sunny, find a shady spot or shelter so that you are not photographing the dog in harsh midday sun. Alternatively you can do the photo shoot either in early morning or late afternoon when the light is warmer and much softer.
#2 Get down low to your pet’s level
If you don’t own the dog then you need to allow it to get used to your presence and the camera before you start taking pictures. Then get down to the same level as the dog so you will be able to capture his world and his character.
#3 Use props, toys or treats
Just like young children it can be challenging trying to capture the character of young pups as they have short attention span. One way around this is to have props and toys that the dog could play with. Or give the dog his favourite treats to get his attention. While the dog is playing with their toys and is having fun make sure that you have the camera ready to capture those cute, unexpected and candid moments. You may want to set your camera on continuous mode so that it takes multiple pictures when you press the shutter.
If you are the owner of the dog it could be difficult trying to photograph and get the dog’s attention at the same time. Ideally get a friend or family member to help you so that you can concentrate on photographing the dog while the other person give you a hand in getting the dog’s attention.
#4 Use aperture priority mode
Similar to portraits when you do pet photography you want to make sure that the viewer is looking at the subject without being distracted by a busy background. To achieve this set the camera in aperture priority mode and open the aperture wide, i.e. small f-stop number such as f/4. This will give a shallow depth of field where the background is nicely blurred but the subject remains sharp and is in focus. Keep the background simple and experiment with different f-stops to get the effect that you want.
#5 Put the camera focus point closest to the eyes
Just like portrait photography put the camera focus point closes to the subject’s eyes. When you focus in on the eyes, the subject will appear sharp throughout. When the eyes are sharp you are drawing the viewer to look at the subject. Just make sure that you have a nice blurred background so you don’t confuse the viewer about what they should be looking at.
I would love to hear from you if you have tried other things that worked well when photographing pets.