No one will ever accuse me of being a great photographer of animals. Even my best effort, this image of my grand-dog, Squishie, is at best, marginal. When someone asked me for some tips the other day, I had to search deep in my memory banks and remember a class on the subject.
First, get down low with them (or get them on something) so you can make eye contact. A shot of the top of your cat’s head is not any more interesting than a shot of the top of a human head. If your pet moves as quickly as Squish, use a fast shutter speed to stop the action. Unless your pet is asleep or a tropical fish, you probably won’t have time to concentrate on your framing. That’s okay (just this once). You can adjust in cropping.
Use something to get your pet’s attention. The teacher in my class was photographing dogs. He made a low growling sound that got the dog’s attention. Then he threw a brightly colored cloth in the direction of the lens and made a high pitched noise. About 90% of the time, the dog followed the cloth and looked right at the lens. Now, this man is one of the best pet photographers in the country. You may not be as effective, but the general idea may help you get some better shots.
If you think it’s hard to get a two-year-old to stay in place, try a Chihuahua! Just be patient and stay with it. Sooner or later, they’ll give you a chance. Take lots of images of quick movers. You’ll have blurry ones and some that were a second too late, but some will be good. Keep shooting. You can cull them later.
Pets have personalities just like people do. See if you can capture your pet’s in your photos. Also, remember, good photographs tell stories. This is no exception. Tell a great story and it will be a great pet photograph.
If you have questions or comments, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to read past articles, you can find them at www.gregmayo.com.