Seven Beginner's Tips to Photographing Your Pet

Share

Humans and their pets share an unbreakable bond that is forever captured and remembered in the photos we take of them. Capturing compelling portraits of your pets is fairly simple but takes quite a bit of practice and attention to details. Here are a couple of quick pointers to start you off.

Focus on The Eyes

A person's eyes are the windows to their soul and can tell a lot about them. Anyone that loves animals realizes that the same applies to their pets. If your Chocolate Lab is tired, he'll lower his head  and show an expression of weariness in his eyes. When shooting your pet (with a camera) be sure to try to get their eyes sharply in focus.

Elicit an Emotion

Play with your Beagle—take careful note of what happens. Perhaps she'll bark, howl, wag her tail, jump around a bit, etc. Obviously her behaviour will reflect how good she is feeling. This is the perfect moment to capture her genuine happiness. Snap a photo of her gorgeous smile with her tongue out, standing confidently and watching her tail wag back and forth. Photos like these remind us of the great times with our pets.

Capture The Personality

You know what's great about Maine Coons, just how much they love to rub their head against anything they love—like you! If your cat is showing you or someone else affection, on camera shows just how much of a loving personality it has.

Similarly, maybe you cat has a favorite toy that they always play with. Photographing them playing with it is something that you will always remember about them.

Make Sure that They Are Still!

Nothing is worse than a blurry photo. If your pet isn't in focus or moving around too quickly, then it will be hard to capture a clear photo. When shooting these images, pay very careful attention to the details. If your pet is moving his/her head when shooting the photo, you'll get a blurry image.

Also, take careful note of where your camera is focusing. Manually focusing can help with this.

Shoot Low

Chances are that you don't have a pet elephant or a giraffe; or even that your pet is taller than you. In most cases, one's pets are physically shorter than their owner. Because of this, it is always best to get down low to take the photo. If you can, shoot wider and get up close. Alternatively, telephoto lenses can also capture great images. The lower perspective truly captures the animal for who they are.

Stop Your Lens Down

As with proper focusing, control of your aperture (or f stop) can really help to capture sharp images of your pet. As a pointer, try shooting at f/5.6. This will ensure that your image is sharp and that the important parts of your pet are totally in focus.

In contrast, shooting wide open (say, f/1.8) can create some wonderful effects if done correctly.

Composition is Everything

Composing a pet portrait correctly is very important. To do this, you perhaps may want to use the Rule of Thirds. Your camera will enable this as a guide to be superimposed over your LCD screen. If you have a DSLR, then it could perhaps allow the guide to be displayed or you may need to purchase a guide that goes over your viewfinder.

Pixie, the Fairy Dog

Add new comment

It's rather striking that you post a poorly composed photograph as an illustration to go along with a segment on how to compose a photograph. And it's not the only poorly composed photograph used in this story. While the Rule of Thirds is a fine rule to follow, the rule alone cannot and does not justify poor image quality.

If B&H calls itself 'The Professional Source', perhaps those who represent this tag line should follow through in this commitment in a more serious manner.

There are many thoughtful, well-presented articles coming forth from your online venture that offer true food for thought to your readers, but I'm afraid this one falls far short of your company's intended goal.

daysailer wrote:

It's rather striking that you post a poorly composed photograph as an illustration to go along with a segment on how to compose a photograph. And it's not the only poorly composed photograph used in this story. While the Rule of Thirds is a fine rule to follow, the rule alone cannot and does not justify poor image quality.

If B&H calls itself 'The Professional Source', perhaps those who represent this tag line should follow through in this commitment in a more serious manner.

There are many thoughtful, well-presented articles coming forth from your online venture that offer true food for thought to your readers, but I'm afraid this one falls far short of your company's intended goal.

The only thing striking is that you care way too much that BH posted photos that aren't composited well. That tells me that you have too much time on your hands and need to get out more. Care about something that's actually worth caring about. Not like you're paying for service and they failed to come through. Get over it and quit acting like a high and mighty judge you portray yourself to be. Besides, who are you to judge? Let's see some YOUR work!

Anonymous wrote:

daysailer wrote:

It's rather striking that you post a poorly composed photograph as an illustration to go along with a segment on how to compose a photograph. And it's not the only poorly composed photograph used in this story. While the Rule of Thirds is a fine rule to follow, the rule alone cannot and does not justify poor image quality.

If B&H calls itself 'The Professional Source', perhaps those who represent this tag line should follow through in this commitment in a more serious manner.

There are many thoughtful, well-presented articles coming forth from your online venture that offer true food for thought to your readers, but I'm afraid this one falls far short of your company's intended goal.

The only thing striking is that you care way too much that BH posted photos that aren't composited well. That tells me that you have too much time on your hands and need to get out more. Care about something that's actually worth caring about. Not like you're paying for service and they failed to come through. Get over it and quit acting like a high and mighty judge you portray yourself to be. Besides, who are you to judge? Let's see some YOUR work!

"photos that aren't composited well"???

"Composition is Everything" - and you chopt the doggie's feet off?

 Doggies' feet aren't "chopped off"; he's ****** down with his feet hanging over the edge of a step! Look closer! The cat is beautiful.

DaleS wrote:

 Doggies' feet aren't "chopped off"; he's ****** down with his feet hanging over the edge of a step! Look closer! The cat is beautiful.

What cat? There is no cat in the picture. Something tells me 'Doggies' feet aren't the only things hanging over the proverbial steps around here...

daysailer wrote:

DaleS wrote:

 Doggies' feet aren't "chopped off"; he's ****** down with his feet hanging over the edge of a step! Look closer! The cat is beautiful.

What cat? There is no cat in the picture. Something tells me 'Doggies' feet aren't the only things hanging over the proverbial steps around here...

There are 2 cat photos in the article...

Really? You can fight about this blog?

The doggy he was referring to was obviously the last photo in the batch.  His feet are, indeed, cut off in the photo.  While it doesn't wreck my world, I did wonder a bit about the framing of it.

I always thought of photographers as a sort of happy fraternity,at least civil enough to wave at each other (come on, bikers can do it) regardless of whether they are canon or nikon or even pentax!

Obviously, it is easier (and far less taxing on the brain) to sling mono-syllabic insults than to actually ask an intelligent question of the photographer such as "Interesting choice on the framing of the winged doggy.  Can you explain your thought process when framing it in such a way that you cut off his feet?"

When are we going to wake up and realize we're all brothers under the logo on our cameras???

Although what daysailer posted was critical, he did not sling any insults. B&H is offering this blog as guidance to photographers, and I would hope the advice and examples would make sense. Unfortunately, the first photo cuts off one of the cat's ears right where it joins the head, and the last photo cuts off the dog's feet in a way that looks like a mistake.

I would also argue with the statement "Nothing is worse than a blurry photo." That's a ridiculous generalization when you're talking about photos of animals. Action photos can be some of the most evocative and engaging, and motion blur can give vitality to an action photo that would be absent if everything were frozen at 1/5000 second.

 Who cares about the dog's feet?!!  Were the feet telling a story that we missed?  

We know the feet are there... at least we assume they are!  

The story was in the dog's expression and posture.  

There are plenty of feet in the picture... pick some!!!  OMG!!!  They have no heads!!! LOL  

What a bunch of trolls with nothing to do!  Go out & take some pictures and show us what YOU can do!  

Wendy... I'll be your brother!  ...Peace...

Thanks, Bodean.  Mom will be thrilled. : )

 My original post seems to have struck a number of chords, sensible and otherwise.

As for those asking me if I can do better, let's just say my work has appeared on over 100 national magazine covers over the years, and while who I am isn't terribly important, let's just say I do in fact know about the 'rules' of photography, as well as when to break them.

As for cropping 'doggies' legs, in the case of the illustrations accompanying this particular post the cropping is neither here nor there. In other words, if you're going to crop a picture, crop it sensibly, not nilly-willy. Otherwise, stand back and frame the entire dog properly.

As for Bodean's comments, if the picture is about the dog's expression and posture, frame it as such by getting in tighter. If the eyes tell the story, get in tighter to the eyes (or crop in tighter after the fact), even if it means having all else in the frame go soft or blurry. 

And BTW, as Andrea rightly noted, blurry can be quite wonderful if executed properly.

It's easy to throw spitballs. Anybody with arms (or a keyboard) can do it.

Taking strong, meaningful photographs is another story, and it takes more than a camera and a shutter release to take a good photograph. It takes thought and eyes that 'see'. 

Sheesh, I wish you all would find something constructive to contribute, this is afterall  "Seven Beginner's Tips to Photographing Your Pet".  There are alot of beginner's out here that would love to learn something new from you and not this sniping back and forth.

Two things every photographer should avoid like the plague: baby and pet photography

Good point Scelgo, but let's not place the images posted here in the same group as anything by Anne Geddes, or icanhascheezburger.com for that matter.

Anne's pix represent the craft of photography at its best and icanhascheezburger.com is funny. This stuff ... dunno nuttin...

So tired of ******* reading an article on photography, studying it actually, and then mud-sling negative comments on these replies.

To you *******: you did not ask nor pay for the information provided. It is a good general guide for beginners. Yes, there are some conflicts. Yes, the images are not as good as every single quick snap any of you have ever taken, but then... I never heard of any of you, either.

Chris: Thanks forthe article. I hope that this amount of negativity does not discourage you from posting in the future, but maybe it will work towards the net finally regulating negative commentary that will only serve to beat down the budding photographer.

Oh and to Annonymous: you sound like a child when you quote someone else's tweet from two days ago without proper citation... And the quote is still wrong.