September 10th, 2010
Today, guest author Emilee Fuss [pictured] talks the basics of pet photography — and the biggest requirement for entering this super-rad photographic field. Please don’t hesitate to leave her some love or ask her your burning questions!
Our pets mean so much to us—they’ not just animals, they’re family members and best friends. show unconditional love and remind us to lighten up and live in moment.
While pets are easy to love, they’re not so easy photograph. photograph.
They ignore you when you bring out the camera, or in fear of the big black clicking machine. Or maybe they get excited they just won’t hold still! People think I photograph well-behaved dogs, but that is NOT the case! I’ve worked extremely crazy ones, and super lazy ones. However uncooperative may be, you can still get great photos of them, it just takes lots patience, treats, and a fast lens and shutter speed.
The first and most important tip I give is this: you must love working with pets in order to pets. Animals have some kind of sixth sense—they know if you are are not an animal person, and if you’re not, they won’t to you well. You can know all of the right camera settings and how get the perfect lighting, but if you don’t appreciate understand the animals you will be photographing, you won’t far. A genuine love and respect for pets is critical to taking photos of them. photos of them.
Also, animals don’t work for free. Figure out what your subject works best for, be it treats, toys, belly rubs. Know what bribes and rewards make them tick. they have to have their owner close by, other times the owner can a distraction. If you find that the pet is distracted by the owner, or that the owner is stressed, just ask him or her to step back, give them the freedom to go do something else, like read a book, check their email, or call a friend. You want to keep the as calm and relaxed as possible, so both the owner and the pet don’get stressed out. get stressed out.
Be very patient when photographing (with the pets and their owners!). They won’t always do what want them to do. They don’t like being forced to pose, so let be themselves and capture their real, natural expressions. Work their personalities. If the dog likes to run, run, run, then outside and play with him! Get photos of him catching his tennis ball, or looking alert and excited right before the frisbee thrown. If you’re working with a couch potato, then let him get the couch. Those are the images that will really tell a story and the pet’s personality shine. the pet’s personality shine.
If you find yourself in a where the pet just won’t hold still for anything, try putting on something high, like a chair or bench, or back them up against wall, fence, or other barrier. Use toys, treats, and affection encourage them to stay in that space. You could also have the put the pet on a leash, and clone it out later in Photoshop. put the pet on a leash, and clone it out later in Photoshop.
For equipment, you want to use a fast lens and keep your camera set on a shutter speed. Pets move quickly and won’t give you much before they dart off! My newest lens has become my favorite - Tamron 28-75 2.8. I can get a nice wide-angle shot and zoom in to detail shots all with the same lens. I shoot exclusively in mode, although aperture and shutter priority are good, too. I prefer total control with manual. I always use the largest possible, set my shutter speed as high as I can, and raise the ISO needed. Normally I try not to go below a shutter speed of 1/100 th of a second. If I’m in a low-light situation, or am photographing black animal, I raise the ISO and use my Nikon 50 1.8 instead of Tamron 28-75 2.8. It’s an awesome little lens that I used 99% the time for two years, until I got the 28-75 2.8. Both of lenses are reliable and affordable, I can’t say enough good about them! about them!
While I’m sure I could go on camera settings, I want to stress the importance of working pets, because you can’t photograph them if you don’t working with them. With patience, an arsenal of toys and treats, love for and understanding of pets, and a fast shutter speed, you’ be on your way to taking great professional photos of man’s friend.
More questions? Leave a comment and I’ll be happy to answer your as best I can!