For many people, pets are an important part of the family. They provide companionship, affection, protection and a healthy dose of laughter. However, capturing your pet’s personality—or even getting him to sit still—can be a real challenge, but with a few tricks up your sleeve, you’ll find that photo that truly captures your furry friend’s fun disposition.
Keep it Natural: When it comes to lighting, try to shoot using available light even if you’re indoors. Perhaps you can use the light coming in from a nearby window. If possible, forgo using your camera’s flash. In addition to possibly startling your pet and hindering his cooperation, the flash can also keep you from capturing your pet’s coat color accurately. Use a reflectors to bounce light where you need it. However, if your pet has an all-black coat, a flash or direct outdoor sunlight can be an advantage because it will help bring out subtle shadings and variations that make your pet unique.
Follow Your Pet: When it comes to posing your pet, it’s best to meet him where he is at that moment. If he’s resting, consider taking a few shots from a distance first. Move in slowly and deliberately.
Frame Shots Tight: When it comes to taking pictures of pets, a great zoom lens can work wonders. Whenever possible, fill the frame with your shot and shoot a bit tighter than you’re used to as it will create a more intimate and personal pet portrait. If you’re looking for a new lens, we suggest the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC or the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 because they deliver high quality images and offer control over the depth of field in your shots. (I have the 28-75 f/2.8 and it is my go-to portrait lens)
Include Your Kids: If you have children, this is a wonderful family project and a great way to spend time after school one afternoon. Enlist your child to help with posing and using toys or other enticements to get your pet to look in a certain direction or to create an ‘action’ shot of him retrieving a toy. You can capture some great interaction between your kids and your pet; just let the events unfold and shoot away. Trying to control the interaction may end up stifling the images and losing the lightness you’d hoped to capture.
See Eye to Eye: If there is one sure tip to getting the best pet portrait it is to get the camera’s lens down to the same level as your pet. Taking the shot at the pet’s eye level not only renders their face in the right perspective it increases the intimacy of the image.
Know Your Pet’s Habits: By understanding your pet’s habits you increase the likelihood of a successful shoot. For example, many dogs will become less active after they eat. If you are looking for a nice, calm, posed portrait this could be the ideal time.
Stay in the Zone Our pets have comfort zones, if possible shooting pictures in these areas will also add to your success.
Let it Go: Photographing pets can be challenging at times, and if your pet isn’t cooperating, put the camera away and try another time. After a nice long walk or a game of catch, your pet may feel more cooperative and you can try again.
Some recommended accessories for pet photography: , won’t cause your pet to flinch like a flash can.