7 Tips For Photographing Animals
I’m an animal lover – always have been, always will be. I simply adore dogs and have a houseful of my own. Getting picture-perfect shots of your pets can be tricky. Thank goodness there are hacks to assure you and your clients are happy with their images. Follow these 7 tips for photographing animals.
Follow these tips to get awesome pictures of your own pets or those you’re photographing professionally:
1. Use A Fast Shutter Speed
As photographers, we all want our images to be crisp, with amazing focus. Don’t think for a minute, if your subject is an animal, that they’re going to hold still. It’s not going to happen! This is where fast shutter speeds shine…
Your main limitation, when using a fast shutter speed, is available light. If you’re shooting in less-than-optimal lighting conditions, and you use a fast shutter speed, your images may be too dark. You can troubleshoot this by using a wide aperature or bumping up your ISO, which measures the camera’s sensitivity to light. The shot below could never have been captured without a fast shutter speed. It literally froze the dog mid air.
You can also use a flash. Flashes are great for, not only lighting the scene, but freezing movement. This comes in mighty handy when photographing animals. Aim for a shutter speed of at least 1/60, and ideally 1/100. Your settings will be determined by your subject, and the amount of available light.
2. Play Around With Different Angles
Angles keep things interesting, and are a great way to change the look and feel of a photograph. Most of your shots will likely be taken at eye level with the animal, but shooting up or down at them can change the perspective, and bring life to an otherwise ordinary picture.
Also play around with focal lengths. Zoom in for incredible close-ups, and shoot wide so the animal’s entire body is in the image. You can either use a zoom lens or physically move in closer or further away from the pet. I like mixing up portrait and landscape orientations, as well. The idea is to take a bunch of different photos. That way you’re sure to come up with a few winners!
3. Make Your Life Easier By Using Props And Treats
Dogs are like babies. They all love treats and some may cooperate when it comes to props. This will depend on what props you use. For instance, some dogs won’t tolerate hats or other accessories. The personality of the dog will dictate what you can and can’t use. In my experience, there isn’t a dog that doesn’t love toys and treats. Treats can be used as a reward for good behavior, and toys can be used strategically to enable you to capture your shot. Bring a variety of toys because each pet has their own preference.
I always bring a squeaky toy when photographing animals. It will at least get their attention for a couple of seconds, which is usually enough time to snap a couple of shots. This is when a fast shutter speed is indispensable. Would your dog tolerate glasses? Puppies certainly wouldn’t go for it. Older dogs, who have lost their vivacious spunk, may be your best bet when it comes to this type of shot.
I love these dogs with reindeer ears. How fun for a Christmas card!
Watch this video for more tips and tricks:
4. Wide Aperatures Will Highlight Your Pet
I love fast lenses, which make capturing bokeh flawless. Bokeh, means “blur” in Japanese, and that’s exactly what bokeh is. Although, the background is deliberately blurred, the subject is in focus. This technique produces images that showcase the main attraction, without highlighting a distracting background that doesn’t add to the image.
Lenses with aperatures of 1.4 to 3.2 are great for capturing bokeh, which is a great technique to use when photographing pets. See how the background is blurred in the photo below? This puts the viewer’s full attention on the dogs, rather than the background.
[Read More: How To Create A Bokeh Effect In Photoshop]
Here’s another example of bokeh. See how the background just disappears?
Here are two fantastic lens for creating bokeh:
5. Use A Wide Angle Len
A wide-angle lens is a must for any photography shoot because you’ll definitely want to include the entire background in some of your shots. This type of lens is also remarkable for distorting an image when appropriate.
As a reminder, don’t use wide angle lenses for family portraiture. The people who are on the ends won’t appreciate how they look due to the distortion. I learned this the hard way. Don’t repeat my mistake! In the portrait below, the background adds to the picture, and the bokeh is absolutely perfect.
In some cases, the background will accentuate the image, adding to the mood of the picture, rather than distracting from it.
6. Photo Color Effects
Use color strategically to enhance your photos, and complement your subject. Using a color wheel can help you determine which colors go well together. In the image below, the turquoise chair is the perfect prop in which to place the dog. Try to visualize the same dog on a white or brown chair. The effect wouldn’t be as dramatic.
I love the color in this image:
7. Create Connection
Nothing is more endearing than a photograph that captures the connection between people and their pets.
Imagine the value this picture will have after this woman’s dog is no longer here. The power of connection can’t be underestimated.
Photographing pets is both fun and challenging. Use a fast shutter speed to make sure your images are sharp, experiment with different angles for interest and appeal, a wide aperature creates a lovely bokeh to highlight your subject, and you’ll get extra credit for creating connection. Animals are some of the best “people” on the planet. Go photograph your favorite pets today!
Have you had luck photography your pets? If so, please share your tips and tricks below!