Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pet Photography

Some of you may have seen me at Planned Pethood events. I'm the one with a camera or two hanging off of my shoulder, and usually holding on to a dog (or two) with my other arm. I take most of the pictures for the website and have become the "official" Planned Pethood photographer. I've never taken any formal photography classes and have learned through trial and error, reading on line, a photography club and from books. By trade I am a pharmacist, although if I had it to do all over again I think I would seriously consider photography (although I have to wonder if the love of it would be gone if I had to earn money doing it) I'm going to give you some hints on how to take better pictures of your dogs, cats (and even you kids).

1. Turn off your flash. Try to take your pictures in natural light if possible. No one likes a picture with glowing eyes. Get out your manual and learn how to adjust the ISO on your camera. Even point and shoot cameras have this adjustment. The brighter your area the lower the ISO (indoors I like to use a ISO of 400 or higher)

2. Get down on the animals level. Get your pet up high and shoot from below. Try different angles. Pan with the camera while the animal is moving.

3. Photograph your pet where they are comfortable, doing what they like to do. It you try to take them somewhere unfamiliar to them they will usually sniff around and all you get are pictures of them with their nose to the ground. Get in close. Keep the background simple.

4. Don't wait for the perfect moment. Take lots of shots (digital "film" is cheap). Many times when I'm taking even portrait shots of animals sitting I will turn on the burst mode (where I take one shot right after another) because even though the animal is sitting there they are moving their head back and forth or blinking their eyes or twitching their ears. If you try to wait for that perfect time when they are sitting perfectly still and you hit the shutter then many times they'll move by the time the camera takes the shot. You end up getting right and left profiles but never that perfect shot where they are looking right at you. So turn on the burst mode. Many times on cameras that have automatic settings the sports mode will have burst shooting.

4. Shoot in the morning or late afternoon and stay out of harsh direct sunlight. Besides for causing a lot of squinting when shooting in harsh sun you can get some unflattering shadows. Cloudy days can be great for taking pictures. Early morning, late afternoon and early evening before sunset give some of the best light besides for being cooler for your pet.

5. Edit yourself. Learn how to down load your pictures in to your computer. I can't believe how many people never load their pictures in to their computer. They'll hand me their camera to look at their pictures. They just keep their pictures on their SD or CF cards and just keep buying cards when they fill them up. Learn how to crop your pictures and do simple editing too.

6. And only show your best photos. Remember the difference between a good photographer and a bad photographer is that you never see the good photographers bad photos.