Pet photography expert Victoria Hillman blogs about the biggest dos and don’ts when it comes to taking the best pics of your animal friends. Check out her tips, put them into practice and upload the results to our Happy, Healthy Pets Gallery – the UK’s largest picture of pet portraits!
When it comes to pet photography, it’s important to keep things natural, whether outside or wherever your pet is most comfortable. Pet photography combines many different areas of traditional photography, from action shots to portraits, and can be a very challenging endeavour! But it’s always a lot of fun and as an added bonus, there’s loads of time for plenty of animal cuddles throughout!
So, without further ado, here are my 5 top tips to get better pet photos!
1. Get on their level
I always recommend being at eye level with your pet, but you can also get some lovely shots taken from above. A great portrait always focuses on the subject’s eyes, so make sure their eyes (or eye if taken from the side!) are in focus. This is the most important part of the photo, giving the viewer connectivity with your pet. Once you’re at eye level, think carefully about the composition of your shot. Pay attention to what’s in the background – if you’re outside is there an interesting tree? If you’re inside, is there distracting clutter?
2. Patience is a virtue
Remember, this is a fun activity – make sure you and your pet are having fun and reward them for being good! If your pet loses interest, leave the photo session for another time and never force them to do something they don’t want to. You want to capture the best (and funniest) qualities of your pet, and these will shine through the most when they are relaxed and in a natural environment.
3. Turn on the light
Lighting can make or break a photo. Too much of a bright light can be harsh and will prove especially tricky if you’re photographing a pet that is very dark or light. Of course, too little light will also result in an unusable photo. I tend to avoid using flash as your pet’s eyes are more sensitive than ours and will likely startle them. Natural or ambient lighting is best, but if you must use flash try to point it away from your pet’s face. This will also help you to avoid red eye.
4. Play to their strengths
You know your pet better than anyone else: their quirks, likes and dislikes, favourite places and treats. Most importantly, you are the person they are with day in and day out. Use this inside intel to get a unique shot that shows off your bond – and your pet. Introducing a new personality to a pet can sometimes lead to a lot of distraction which makes it tough to take a photo. As a professional photographer I always have to make sure that there is enough time for the animal to meet, adjust to and play with me beforehand. But, you are a familiar figure so your pet is more likely “perform” for the camera.
5. Get Colourful
It seems natural to take pictures in colour – you can capture bright green eyes or a little pink nose, but changing things up by using monochrome can add a little something extra. If opting for colour, just make sure that background tones aren’t distracting and allow your pet to stand out the way they deserve to!
As with any photography session, be sure to take a range of images. From close ups capturing an expression, to a paw (or claw, wing or fin!), to a wide shot that captures your pet in his or her favourite place, the more photos you take, the more practice you’ll have and eventually, you’ll have a fantastic collection of photos of your happy, healthy pet!