Top tips on taking great pet photos
One of the key aspects of pet photography is being able to get close, and rather unusually, get low. We’ve seen our pets hundreds of times from head height, but to get a great shot you need to be at their height, see them in a way you don’t usually see them. Try to fill the entire frame with your pet and you will get amazing results.
Lighting & Environment
No matter what camera you have, good lighting will make or break your image!
Below are some tips on getting the best light whether you’re indoors or out
Photographing pets outdoors can be a great deal of fun, particularly with dogs as they have the space to play around and interact, plus it means you will always have a great source of natural light.
• Don’t be afraid to look like a nutjob! You might want to crawl around chasing your pet for half an hour with your camera glued to your face for the perfect shot- it’s probably worth it!
• Avoid hard shadows in your photos by shooting in the morning and evening and try to keep the sun behind you.
• Overcast skies provide good even lighting for following around active pups so you won’t have trouble with shadowed faces.
• If you’re using auto-focus, try to keep your camera panned to your pets face and take as many photos as you can. Don’t be afraid to take as many photos as you can, you never know what you might get!
• Wherever possible, avoid your built in flash. 95% of inbuilt camera flashes aim straight at your (soon to be temporarily blinded) subject and can give the unwanted red-eye effect.
• Try to add more light using ambient light from windows, lamps and ceiling lights. Mirrors can sometimes be used to help light spread through the room.
• Props can be a great addition to a pet photo, try adding in a favourite toy or a scarf to add some character to your shot
• Fluorescent lighting can often give an orange hue which might flatten out the colours in your images. If you have a white-balance setting on your camera you might be able to manually adjust this or set it to indoor lighting to put some more blue back in your shot
Whether you’re using a DSLR or a phone camera you should be able to get some great pet shots, here are some quick tips on getting the most out of your camera.
• If you’re using a compact camera, try using the ‘Shutter-priority’ mode or ‘sports’ preset modes to freeze action shots
• Try using a wide-aperture setting on your camera to blur the background, if you have an ‘Aperture priority’ setting on your camera it will allow you to set the aperture whilst automatically setting the shutter speed.
• If you’re using an iPhone, turn on the HDR (High Dynamic Range) option for clearer pictures. To turn on: Open the camera app, select “Options” and turn HDR toggle to on
• Experiment with different settings – if you have an SLR the choices are endless, but a good wide angle to pan over wider scenes or portrait prime lens (such as a 50mm f1.4 ) for giving great definition and a shallow depth of focus.
• Got a compact camera? Try using a handheld camera extender to get some great shots from low angles without having to crawl on the floor following your pet!
• Try to play with your pet before attacking it for an hour with the camera. Take a break every few minutes to get their attention again by playing. If you have an assistant, have them play for a while then use a shrill noise or squeaky toy to quickly catch their attention mid-action
• Treats – nothing transforms cats to kittens and dogs to pups quite like the allure of a tasty smelling tidbit
• Work on their time – pets can have short attention spans so if you’re no longer a subject of interest take a break!
Most important of all, have fun with your photos. And make sure your pet is having fun too!
Content and photos kindly provided by Sally Rutherford