When you try to take portraits of your pets, do you end up with nothing but blurry blobs, down in the corner? Was your dog or cat even looking at the camera? Were they looking attentive and happy? Did your cat make sure everyone was bleeding before the end of your last photo session? Here's how to get better pet photos...
Creating better pet photos can sometimes be a challenge. But if you follow three simple steps you too can do a stunning pet portrait of Fido or Felix. It's really pretty easy.
First, let's shift our attention to the backdrop.
Whether shooting indoors or outdoors, you first need to do a scan of the background... What can distract the dog's attention? Is there a street back there, with cars zipping by? Are there ducks waddling around? Are there kids playing in a nearby park? Balls flying around that can be chased after?
How about poles, trees or fences that can appear to protrude from the dog's head? If you take just a couple minutes to check out the backdrop, the odds of getting better pet photos increases dramatically.
The Golden Retriever Meditates on What it Means to be Cold, Loved and Warm by Andrew Morrell on flickr (licensed CC-BY-ND)
Second, who can help you?
Trying to do a pet portrait by yourself can be a real challenge. If you get someone to help you and act as your assistant, it becomes a whole lot easier.
After a few times of getting Fido posed just right - and then backing off to do the picture, only to have Fido follow you, you'll know what I mean. Don't get mad, they don't know what you want, they're just trying to be friendly.
Cats are a different story, they won't try to be friendly and follow you, they'll just take off and you may never see them again. Getting better pet photos is impossible if you can't find the animal!
With someone to assist you, they can control the dog or cat and all you have to worry about is the actual photograph. You can get in position, get yourself all focused and then just have them step back or lean backwards little bit and you shoot. Sometimes you have to be pretty fast on the trigger to catch the animal before they take off, but with your assistant there to help catch them, they will be reposed and ready for the next shot before you know it.
Third, it's important to have your pet looking at the camera with an attentive expression.
That's not very difficult to do. When shooting dogs, a squeaker works best. Get yourself one that's flat, keep it hidden from the dog, and squeak it softly. By doing it that way, the dog won't know where the sound is coming from and it will look attentively toward you to find the source of the squeak.
Snap the shot.
This technique will work for several shots, then once the dog realizes where the sound is coming from, you can squeak it louder and wave it around to get their attention. When squeaking no longer attracts their attention, flick it up into the air.(That's why you want a flat one - so it won't roll away.) Tossing the squeaker in the air also has the added bonus of getting them to raise their ears and pull their tongues into their mouths
Both tongue in and tongue out shots are appealing. You will want to get several of each. Tongue in is a more classic look, tongue out makes them look happier.
Squeakers don't work for very long with cats. They don't seem to be as interested in sounds as dogs are. The squeaker may work once or twice, but for the most part you will need visual aids. Ostrich and Peacock feathers work well.
I know these steps are deceptively simple, but if you'll just try them, you will be amazed at how easy it is to get better pet photos.