Say Cheeze!
Lucas deSousa, Lucas deSousa Photography. West Bolton, VT
At 4 Legs & a Tail, we receive hundreds of pet pictures and many have made it into the magazine. They are all wonderful, but not every picture achieves its full potential. Pets, unlike humans, do not understand what we are trying to do and won’t just pose for the camera! Here are 9 tips that will help you get the most out of your photo sessions.
1. Use Natural Light
If possible, always use natural light when taking your pet’s picture. Avoid flash, as a flash burst can not only cause red-eye, but also frighten the animal. Instead, try to go outside, or if that is not possible, use a room well-lit by a large window.
2. Keep the Eyes Sharp
Having sharp eyes is important in any kind of portrait photography. As they say, “Eyes are the Window to the Soul,” and pet’s eyes can be very expressive. So make sure to focus on your pet’s eyes and keep the tack sharp. If you use a SLR or DSLR style camera place the focus dot on the eyes to gain a sharper in-focus image.
3. Go to Them
Your pet should be at ease and feel comfortable, invite them to come to you. It is most important to get down to their level. Show us the way they see the world. Try not to stay hidden behind the camera, as some pets will lose interest if they can’t see your face.
4. Give Value to their Character
You know your pet better than anyone else. A successful picture is one that conveys the character of its subject. If you have a lazy cat, show him yawning. If your animal is the playful type, show him in action performing his favorite trick.
5. Go Macro or Try Different Lenses
Put on that long lens and fill the frame with your pet’s face and fur. Close-up shots often make beautiful animal portraits.
6. Surprise Them
One of the most difficult things is to get your pet to hold still. An easy trick is to let him play quietly. Once you have everything ready, let someone call for him or whistle. This will surprise him and catch his attention. You will have a few seconds to capture him in a nice and alert posture.
7. Schedule your Session
If you are longing for a formal pet portrait shot, try to schedule a photo session when your animal is somewhat sleepy, or has just woken up. It will be much easier to keep them still. If you want a more dynamic shot, then pick a time of day when your pet is energetic. If they are sick it is better to just postpone it for another day. If you use treats to have them look at the camera, hold the treats close and at lens level. Watch your fingers, you don’t want them to show up in the photograph too.
8. Be Patient
Pet photography requires a lot of patience. No matter how excited your furry friend is, if you are patient enough, they will end up relaxing and you will have the opportunity to get a decent shot.
9. Experiment
Take your time and enjoy the session, try different approaches, angles and compositions. Shoot a lot, you will have time to worry about the results later.
When not photographing events, Lucas can be found hiking the back roads of Vermont in search of landscapes.