Pets are as much fun to photograph as children – and they’re about as easy to photograph as kids. Which is to say, not easy at all. Dogs and cats certainly offer up great poses, but they might not hold them for long. And they’re definitely playful enough for a thousand photo ops, but cooperation isn’t always in the cards. The next time you have a photo session planned with your pet – whether it’s for a holiday card, special occasion, or even a family photo op – here are some pet photography tips to help you get the money shot.
1. Make a plan.
More often than not, it’s the impromptu photo that ends up being your number one shot, but it doesn’t hurt to have a concept in mind. Do you want to show your pet being silly? Sweet? Hungry? Tired? Interacting with the kids? Think about what you want your photos to say, then be flexible about how you reach that point.
2. Have props.
Your pet may have a favorite toy, but that doesn’t mean she wants to play with it at the moment you’re ready to take photos. In fact, that toy may be more of a beloved security blanket, if you will, than a plaything. Be prepared with some fun new items that will pique your pet’s interest and encourage playful, photo-worthy moments.
3. Offer rewards.
Work up to a fun photo session by offering your pet a few treats. If he knows you have goodies in your pocket, he’ll be more agreeable to doing what you want. To catch your pet’s attention, dangle that treat near the camera for a sweet close-up. Just make sure you choose the best kind of motivation for your particular pet to keep him engaged, whether that’s a toy, affection, or a rare treat.
4. Hit the ground.
A true photographer is willing to lay down on the ground and get dirty to capture the ultimate photo. To create a truly engaging photo, get face-to-face with your pet, whether you have to lie down, kneel, or pull out a stool. And if you’re on the ground in your home or yard, use this opportunity to do some impromptu pet-proofing.
5. Be quiet.
You may be tempted to bark commands at your pet to get her to do exactly what you want so you can snap the photo you’ve envisioned, but too many orders will be overwhelming and may cause your pet to disengage or just become confused. Instead of shouting your pet’s name over and over, point or use hand signals to keep their attention and interest. And avoid moving too quickly so that you don’t startle your pet out of position.
6. Consider your background.
Too much clutter will prevent your pet from being the focal point of any photo. So choose a background that is monochromatic, or just has a pop of color, and that is free of too much stuff so that your pet will be the central figure on screen. Due diligence in this regard will make you much happier later. No one wants to get that awesome photo of their pet only to realize later that there was a fast food bag on the table. And if you’re heading to a new outdoor area to avoid clutter entirely, just be sure to vet the area first to make sure it’s safe from any hazardous plants or other threats to your pet’s health.
7. Have fun!
Pets can sense when you’re tense and uptight. So if the photo shoot isn’t going all that well, or you’re concerned about how it’s going to go, your pet will sense these worries and their behavior could become low energy and peppered with looks of concern or a desire to please. You’re photographing an animal after all, and unless that pet is highly trained to obey all commands, enter into this photo session with no expectations. If you have fun, he’ll have fun!
There really aren’t any bad photos of pets – this is a creature you love and care for every day and they will always look amazing to you. But capturing their very essence to share with others can take a little practice. Be patient, and be smart and safe about your photo-taking methodology. Should there be any mishaps, or if you notice in this intense one-on-one time that something is off with your pet, visit one of our veterinarians at the Northpointe Veterinary Hospital, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.