Today is Pet Parade 344 on the blog so I welcome our regular friends visiting mid-way through the take better pet pictures beginner course today.
Your Pet’s Personality
You are the person closest to your pet and you know their characteristics, crazy quirks and habits better than anyone.
Depending on your pet’s personality you may find yourself taking:
- A formal or more ‘posed’ portrait (maybe your cat loves to sit and show off) or,
- an action shot (your pet loves to be in the middle of the action).
TIP: Don’t try to force your pet to do something they hate, neither of you will have a fun time and the whole point of this mini-course is for you to enjoy each other’s company and create some fantastic shots along the way.
First, let’s take a look at the pets who want to be in the middle of whatever you are doing. You can consider action shots to help capture personality and joy.
There was a time when all of my photos ended up like this:
I didn’t have a clue about my camera or settings and I felt frustrated and really disappointed. Then someone suggested I use a specific mode on my DSLR that is aimed at making it easier to capture moving pets (and people).
Introducing ‘Sport’ mode
Burst mode allows you to take a series of pictures really quickly which is fantastic because you stand a much better chance of catching a moment of leaping action or running from a super active pet.
Sport or ‘burst’ mode (setting) is available on many smartphones and compact cameras. You may need to locate burst mode within your camera’s menu or check the manual.
On a DSLR you will find there is a stylised athlete icon. Sport is a pre-set that lets you take fast pictures in a worry-free way without overthinking settings too much.
Smartphones can often do a series of shots if you hold your finger down on the screen. Check yours to see if this works or if you need to look at your settings to find or change your mode.
It takes time to take good action shots but every doggy walk is an opportunity to take pictures, every playtime gives you a chance to capture fun felines in motion or the swish of a reptile’s tail.
- I have done a fun post on sport mode for you to check out here.
This image of Connor from NekoNgeru Cat Adoption Cafe is a big improvement thanks to sport mode.
Now let’s take a look at the laid back or relaxed pet who may be more stress-free but who will shine with a little care and skill from you.
Pet Portraits Naturally
The second great way way to take pet photos that really work is to capture your cat doing ordinary things.
If this sounds boring, think again. Your best memories of you and your cat, or dog might be sitting in the garden, or seeing the glow of fur in a sun puddle. Quiet and peaceful times.
A natural portrait takes you much closer to your pet so check your settings for ‘close-up’ modes, and consider the following tips for great pictures.
- Get down (or up) at pet level – Crouch or sit if your pet is at ground level, or beside them if they are relaxing on the sofa. Looking at or up at your pet empowers them and makes your image even better. Look at the dramatic shot of Dot below.
- Don’t be afraid to get close – Getting really close takes time and trust to develop but be patient, you can end up with wonderful pictures. Avoid using too much digital zoom as this amplifies camera shake unless you rest on a firm surface.
- Full face, profile and back shots can be effective. Pet ears can be so expressive.
- Take lots of photographs – Not one or two but dozens of them. Before the digital age, you had to print off pictures, now you download them to your laptop or tablet an assess the pictures there. There is no risk when taking a digital picture.
- Take advantage of your pet’s talents
And today I hope you enjoyed my tips on making the most of your pet’s good looks. It sounds a bit of a no-brainer to say this but I will anyway. Take lots and lots of photographs- the more you take the more your natural skills improve and the better your pictures get.
With what you have learned so far, you can start to enjoy action-packed photoshoots with your pet, or take a cool portrait.
I will be exploring what do to when you download your photographs to an app or photo editing software soon.
See You Then!
Marjorie is a motorbike riding blogger and award winning cat photographer who believes that everyone can shoot and edit wonderful pictures they love regardless of the camera they use.
She is a Professional member of the Cat Writers Association, Kuykendall Image Award winner and published photographer at the Guardian newspaper.