Pets have many benefits. They are our companions, always good for a cuddle, and above all – always willing to have their photo taken. Apart from cats. Cats vanish as soon as you want them around.
Next time you need to satisfy your photography bug but you are too time poor or lazy to leave the house, grab the nearest pet and get snapping. If you don’t have a pet, neighbors or friends are always keen for quality images of their pets. As long as you have treats handy, normally they won’t complain if you take your time to try a range of techniques – If you can keep them still long enough. Make sure you keep heaps of tasty treats on hand at all times.
A lot of what you learn shooting pets can be transferred to other forms of photography too. Try differing backgrounds, lighting, focus and angles. Try indoor and outdoor lighting to see how this changes your shot and if you are using external flashes, try not to make them any brighter than what you would like pointed at yourself. Take heaps of shots and keep shooting after you have the shot you want as sometimes you will get an interaction, look or behavior that is better than you planned. Pets are very unpredictable.
LED lights and side flash
Often the key is to try and have eyes in focus, preferably with a slight glint or light in them. Dogs are very tricky if you are using automatic focus as the camera will try and focus on the tip of the nose and not the eyes. Increasing your depth of field by changing to a smaller aperture (larger f-stop number) to get more of the face in focus be slightly more forgiving. At the same time, decreasing the aperture will let you define the focus point of the photo and diffuse the background.
And lastly, while I’m not suggesting taking your rabbit to the supermarket, location can add a lot to a photo. Take your dog on their favorite walk or put your frog on the TV. Having your pet in their favourite location, or in an oddball place can add personality to your pet portrait. Also try and capture any features or traits to portray the personality of your pet.