All of us are really fond of our pets and so is the internet. You might have seen hundreds of beautiful pet portraits on the internet. These pictures would be encouraging you to click an awesome picture of your furry friends as well. They are small, beautiful, amazing and quite restless too. This is the reason why taking pet pictures becomes a little more difficult than simply taking people portraits. You cannot ask them to smile or strike a pose. However, this also presents a major advantage for the photographers. As nothing is ‘set up’ or scripted, you always get the most natural portraits with pets.
For clicking the best animal portraits, you need to make sure that you prepare everything in advance and get to know the pets better. If they are your own pets, things can be a little easier. However, if you are clicking a portrait for someone else’ pets, then you need to be more careful. Just try to be friendlier with the pets in the beginning, so that they can get well along with you and give you the most amazing portrait poses ever. Here are the 10 tips that you need to follow in order to the click the most mesmerizing pet portraits.
1. Be Patient
First things first, don’t rush with the animal. They all have a unique persona and all of them wish to be treated in a certain way. Cats can be more playful while dogs might wish to be left alone at times. Don’t force a pet into getting photographed. If you are wishing to do so, you would be left with scratch marks at odd places. Therefore, just try to be patient. It can take a day or two to fully comprehend the situation and make sure that the pet is comfortable. Try to understand the pet personality before clicking a picture. This would help you in deciding the kind of picture that would suit them more.
2. Appreciate the pet
Cast a serious glance at the stature of the pet. Appreciate the color of their fur, the way their tail wags, the usual expressions on their face and the way the little spot on their coat makes them unique. When you appreciate these little things on the pet, you would be able to make more appealing portraits. It would ensure that you have not just clicked a picture, but the whole personality of the pet in that portrait. Therefore, mark this step as an absolute necessity. Watch them for real, you would definitely get many creative ideas for their portraits.
These two steps were based more on aesthetics and values. Now, let’s focus on the downright technicalities of the pet portrait.
3. Use natural lighting
For pet portraits, it is always better to use natural lighting. It provides a very softly lit background against which the pet looks beautiful. You should be able to shoot at dawn or dusk to get the best results. Indoor shoots would require a flash. However, it would be better if you can arrange for natural light here as well. It helps in defining the pet more. While shooting outdoors, avoid the afternoon shoots. The sunlight is too harsh and shadows are often hard. Therefore, shoot on sunny bright days as well as cloudy days, but make sure the light is never too much.
4. Aperture and Shutter Speed Settings
For most of the pet portraits where you want a naturally blurred background and complete attention on the subject, it is better to choose a wider aperture. This is optimum of pets who are in a natural environment like grass or amidst a garden of exotic flowers. The colors of the background would still be rendering their bright appeal, but the focus would only be on the subject. Use a normal shutter speed.
5. Limit the Movement, but be natural
If the pets get comfortable with you, they would likely be bothered less by your presence around. This gives them time to settle down and behave calmly. This is exactly what you want in your portrait as well. You just don’t need to capture a furry coat. You have to focus on the expressions, the eyes and the overall persona of the pet as well. This can only happen when the movement is restricted yet natural.
6. Capture at eye level
You cannot capture a pet portrait from a bird’s eye view. Therefore, it is essential that you go down at the eye level of the pet and the click a picture. You might have to leave the camera on the ground or click pictures roughly or even lie down yourself. In either case, try to be as natural as possible. A very low or high angle is not acceptable with pet portraits. Therefore, maintain adequate eye levels.
7. Choosing the lens
One of the best known lenses for pet photography are macro lens and telephoto lens. The macro lens would give you a better ‘up close and personal’ kind of picture that would certainly be helpful for showing various expressions on the face of the pets. You can also get some candid pictures with telephoto lens. It gives you more freedom to isolate the subject from the background.
8. Keep your gear ready
You don’t need many accessories for your pet portraits. Stick to the basics like a camera, a couple of lenses and a flash unit for creating shadows. Keep your camera battery fully charged and always carry an extra battery whenever you go out for outdoor sessions, also keep an eye on the space left on your memory card make sure you either back up your old photos or buy a new one, as cost of memory card are quite cheaper than your precious time.
9. Pay focus to the location
Your pet portraits can come to life if the pet has been placed in the right location. Since cats are bit notorious in nature it is quite difficult to photograph them. So your best bet is to watch out for a moment when she is lazy or busy staring outside the window while her attention being acquired by a toy or a bird outside.
Set your camera to aperture-priority mode, a wide aperture and keep the ISO setting to high lets you blur the background and generate a fast enough shutter speed to freeze any movement, letting you react to a photo opportunity even in low light. Fill the frame with your subject to minimize any distractions, like the windowpane, but to maximize on the beautiful light.
In general, people love their pets being photographed on natural locations like flower beds, beaches etc.
10. Focus on the eyes
As with any other kind of portraits, you have to pay attention to the eyes of the pet. They are mostly very expressive and would be providing you with brand new photo angles and perspective. Experiment a little and find some portraits that capture their eyes.
Pets are wonderful creatures to be clicked. Their expressions sometimes match so drastically with humans that they can give you amazing depth and meaning in the picture. You must take pet pictures like you would click a baby’s photograph. Be careful and friendly towards them. This would help them in giving you their best shots. Pets are quite physical in their expression. Try to capture these candid moments as well. You would be getting great pet portraits this way.