These easy tips will make a huge difference in your pet's photographs.
1. Get Down on Their Level! You will be amazed how big of a difference squatting, sitting, or even laying down on the ground can make. The number one mistake people make is they take the picture standing up. If you want to shoot down on your pet to have them looking up, make sure that you are only slightly above their eye level.
2. Go Outside and Turn OFF your Flash. Natural lighting is EXTREMELY important, and I prefer photos with light and shadow contrasts. The good news is you already have free access to the best possible lighting: the sun! Your camera will capture glorious crisp detail outdoors and blurred disappointing shots indoors. If yours is strictly an indoor pet and taking them outdoors is dangerous, go to the largest, brightest window in your house and stand by it. Shoot with the light coming slightly from the side.
3. Get Ready First. Pets have an extraordinarily short attention span. If you want them looking alert and beautiful, you have a very short window. Turn off the flash and take a few test shots before the pet is even around to check lighting, positioning and camera settings. Be patient, it can often take a few shots before your dog will realize that you are not down there for them to “kiss” you, or to give them a belly rub. This may seem like a lot but in reality in only takes 2-3 minutes and is often the difference between a dog’s attentive eyes looking at you or a wagging, blurred tail moving away from you.
4. Hold a Squeaky Toy or Treat. You want to capture your pet’s personality? Then capture their attention! Hold a squeaky toy right next to your camera and when everything is set up, squeak it and click the picture at the same time. If your dog responds better to treats, use them. Use both. A word of caution: Often they are excited and will want to come toward you as you're trying to get a shot. This will ruin your picture. Have a friend hold them back by their collar or leash if this is the case. If you are going to use these pictures to have a portrait drawn or painted, the collar and leash (and friend!) can easily be omitted by the artist. If you don’t hold them back, you will probably end up with a blurry picture and a nose print on your lens. If no one is around to help, just hook their leash onto something and stand out of their reach.
5. Take Multiple Shots. Just keep clicking away. Digital film is free, right? So just take many, many, many shots and delete all but the best. Pets are unpredictable and the best looking shot is often in the middle of a lot of terrible ones.
6. Get Closer. You want the focus on your pet, and in particular your pet’s eyes. Pro photographers have a saying: Get three steps closer than you think is necessary. Your pet's face or body should fill the entire picture. Zoom in. Far away shots are without question the least interesting. Disappointing , lifeless portraits result from squinting at tiny images which are the only pictures an owner has of a beloved pet which passed away before they got any good pictures of them. Trying to make out a pet’s looks and personality is much more difficult when they are not up close and personal.