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Photographing Pets

Pets are some of the most important members of our family! We love capturing all of their cuteness, funny behaviors and happy moments! Whether you're looking to add photos to your family album, post them on social media or text them to a loved one, you want to make sure to show off Fido and Fluffy in the best way PAWSSible!

Generally speaking, there are 2 circumstances when I might want to take a photo of Fido or Fluffy: 1) It is a special occasion (i.e. a walk in front of beautiful scenery or a holiday) or 2) I’m spending quality time with Fluffy and notice that she looks strikingly snazzy in the current natural lighting. For the first circumstance, you might have to manipulate the lighting and environment and edit later; for the second, you get to work first-hand (first-paw?) with your friendly feline or dapper dog! I find that the second circumstance usually yields the most authentic photos, but anything is PAWSSible with a little PURRseverence! In this blog, I will cover general photographing techniques that have worked well for me as well as some suggestions unique to the 2 circumstances mentioned above.

General Photographing Techniques: Regardless of the situation you're capturing, I find that digital cameras and smart phones work wonderfully for capturing pet pictures. Long gone are the days of only getting 24 shots per role of film, so use that to your advantage! Animals move a lot and it can be tremendously difficult to get them to sit still and pose at just the right moment. If you’re using a digital camera, switch it to the pet mode setting or the sports mode setting. If you’re using a cell phone, hold down the shutter button (rather than shooting one photo at a time) to create a photo burst. These modes capture some blurry motion, but they also capture the in-between, still, movements. You might start off with 2000 photos of your pet, but you are much more likely to end up with several amazing shots than you would the old-fashioned way. You can always delete the majority of the photos taken, but you can never take more after the photo session is over!

Take burst shots from a wide variety of viewpoints and poses. I find that getting down on Fido's level works best. If he is on the floor or furniture, position the camera at his eye-level, sitting or lying next to him. You should experiment with photos from other unique angles, too. If you position the camera above him, you can use an enticement (treat/toy) to get his attention, looking wide-eyed up at you. If Fluffy is on a clear surface, such as a coffee table, try to get some pictures from underneath her. Have fun with the session for as long as it is also fun for Fluffy or Fido!

Photographing Special Occasions: If Fido is familiar with a friend, it helps if you have someone with you to assist with lighting and staging while you work the camera. If possible, try to have a variety of enticement treats/toys with you. If you want Fluffy to feel comfortable in a costume, sitting in a certain location, or interested in a prop, sprinkle a little catnip on them first. Leave them out in the area where you want to take photos, sit, and relax. Let it be her idea to explore the new "toys" so that she feels comfortable and more willing to hang around for a photo shoot. If you position your pet in front of the scenery or next to a prop, you can then put the enticement someplace that will get her sitting/standing where you want, looking where you want. In a recent shoot of a black kitten (named Spooky) next to a can of pumpkin, I positioned a couple of treats on the can so that she would be standing at an ideal height, looking at me! As an added bonus, she licked her chops after the treat, offering some cute tongue-out candid shots! No matter what you're trying to capture in a photo, be ready to take pictures and only let the session run as long as Fido/Fluffy are happy to participate.

Burst mode helps capture a VERY energetic kitty!

For staged or special occasion shots, lighting might not be ideal. However, if possible, avoid using the flash. Not only does it make your pet look away and blink, it also can make her less inclined to look at the camera. If you’re inside, you might need to play with the lights or blinds. If you're outside, you might need a flashlight to cast light on the scene or move it closer to the moonlight or outdoor lights. If all else fails, take the photos anyway and then use the editing and filter tools on your favorite social media platform or editing app to lighten up photos or to remove shadows later.

Taking Advantage of Ideal Lighting: If you’re sitting on the couch, snuggling with Fluffy, and suddenly it dawns on you that she looks especially gorgeous in the sunlight streaming through the window, carpe diem! Start with natural photos of her in her essence. Try not to make sudden movements but capture her looking all cute and cuddly, resting and sleeping. Then, try to get her interested in a favorite toy or activity. These types of photos are my personal favorites because the pet is behaving in a more natural way, and they end up looking less forced as a result.

When I opened the window blinds, Spooky looked gorgeous in the natural light AND became very playful!

When your photographing session is over, you will have a lot of material from which to choose! For more tips on selecting/editing photos and posting them to social media, please stay tuned to my next blog! The blog will also include an alternative to photographs for spontaneous situations that are not under ideal lighting! I hope that these tips have been helpful to capture more special memories with your furry friends!

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