It’s hard to resist grabbing the cell phone and taking a quick pic when we see our pets do something cute. But the best pictures come with a little planning and attention to detail…and maybe even a real camera. Here are some tips to keep in mind next time you embark on a photo session with your pet.
1. Mix up the distance
Many of our pet photos are taken from mid-range. This is fine, but don’t forget to mix it up a little and take close-ups and wide-angle shots. Focus on some detail of your pet to add visual interest to close-ups. It could be just a part of the face, a paw, or an interesting pattern in the fur. Wide-angle shots are great when out and about with your dog, showing her sitting on a wide expanse of beach or walking down a long path in the woods, for example.
2. Get on your pet’s level
How many pictures have you taken of your pet standing over him while he’s sitting on the ground looking up at you? The most interesting pictures often happen when you get down on your pet’s level. This conveys more of your pet’s view of the world in the shot. So, next time your dog or cat is rolling around in the grass, get down on the ground and lie next to him and shoot away.
3. Come into the light
Make sure you have enough light before you start shooting. When indoors, natural daylight without a flash is best. Maximize the light by opening blinds and curtains, even if you think it’s bright enough. The best light for pet photos is outdoors. Many professional photographers think the most flattering light is in the hours around sunrise and sunset. Make sure your pet is in even light and not in partial shadows.
4. Don’t forget about the background
Chances are, a spontaneous shot of your pet looking cute will have a less than ideal background. Your pet may look great, but the shot is otherwise spoiled by that unmade bed or tangle of computer wires in the background. Take the background into account when you plan a pet photo session. Clean up the clutter if you do it in the house. When outdoors, make sure the background is appealing and doesn’t distract from your pet.
5. Get to know your camera
Yes, put down your phone and dig out your real camera. And the manual too. Many of us rely on the auto setting and don’t even really know what our camera is capable of. Read the manual and experiment with the different settings on your camera. Play around with shutter speed and aperture and don’t put pressure on yourself to take a perfect shot every time. Some of the best shots are happy accidents.
6. Go for the action shots
Pets rarely sit still for the perfect portrait. Rather than fight it and get frustrated, work with their energy and go for action shots. This is where knowing your camera comes in handy. You will need a fast shutter speed to catch them in the act of running, jumping, and playing. Experiment with manual settings or see if your camera has a sports mode. Take rapid-fire shots like the pros and see the great results you can get.
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