“Photography is the story I fail to put into words.”
Seven tips on photographing your pet
1 The eyes have it
A viewer is drawn to eyes in an image. Focus on the eyes, they have to be sharp, even if the rest of the image is out of focus or has some motion blur the image will still pack a punch. Try to take some pictures with your pet looking at you/the camera - this creates a connection when you look at the photograph. Make weird noises, use a squeaky toy or treats, even a funny dance can work to attract your pet’s attention. You may sound or look like you have lost the plot but if it works and you get the shot, so what.
2 Catch the catchlights
A catchlight is simply the light source reflected off the eye. It's that little twinkle that gives your subject depth and life in the image. It is worth repositioning your pet or better still, waiting until they move their head to a better angle to reflect the light to give you that sparkle.
3 The natural look
Using just natural light has advantages and disadvantages - harsh, middle-of-the-day sunshine creates ugly shadows over faces and bodies and washes out the colour. If it is sunny try photographing in the shade. Shade and cloudy days are ideal, it is when you get subtle and soft, even light that avoids the harsh shadows. For atmospheric and warm-toned images take pictures early in the morning or evening when the sun (if it is out!) is at a low angle giving beautiful, warm side lighting. Just make sure your pet’s face is not in shadow and remember those catchlights in the eyes. Alternatively, go for a dramatic look and expose for the sky to create silhouettes.
If you are indoors window light is an obvious solution and gives far more pleasing results than flash. Flash can create strange shadows and red-eye. If flash is needed try directing your flash away from your pet - point it at a wall next to, or the ceiling above them, this gives a more natural effect.
4 Vary your viewpoint
Shots from just one height results in boring images after a while. Try some from directly above with your pet looking up at you. Get down to their level for some intimacy and for even more dynamic results shoot from below and looking up at them.
5 Beware the background
These can really spoil a picture. Simple backdrops work best. Too much clutter and your pet will merge into the background. As far as locations go anything from a sandy beach, or a leafy wood, to your living room will work as long as you keep an eye on what is going on behind your subject. Watch out for trees, lamp posts, table legs or lightshades growing out of heads. Or try photographing them in front of a raindrop covered window, a beautiful stone wall or characterful, paint-peeling barn door.
Plain, bold colours as backdrops can make an image zing! Use a complimentary tone for a restful feel or a contrasting shade to create that ‘WOW’. Try a coloured blanket or large cushion behind your pet (as in the image below) a brightly painted door or a mass of blooms (preferably all one colour) - even a bright blue wheelie bin can be useful!
6 Composition is key
Avoid placing your subject in the middle of the frame. Offsetting the subject left or right, even top or bottom, creates more interest. Fill your frame - get a close-up of a nose or a paw. Alternatively step back and capture their environment for a more documentary feel. Or get creative and crop to produce a quirky, graphic picture.
7 Practise patience
Let your furry friend do their own thing - if you take the time and wait for them you will succeed in capturing what makes them so special. Posing is tiring, do a little and then reward their hard work. Give them a break, let them play and then try some more 'set-up' shots but always make it fun for them.
Experiment a lot and shoot all sorts! Have fun and don't stress about the duffers (I've taken many over the years, and still do, it's just how we learn but you will find the bad ones become fewer). Don't worry that you haven't got the right gear, it's all about who is behind the camera - even the most expensive and fancy equipment won't make the photographs any better - you are the one with the control.
Interested in finding amazing dog-friendly places to stay around the country? Clink on the link below to find five of my favourites. https://www.goodvetandpetguide.com/featured-articles/cheshire-pet-photography-s-5-favourite-dog-friendly-places-to-stay-in-the-uk