Apr 30, 2011

Tips for Great Pet Photography

by Claudine Kosier of Simply Dog

Anyone that knows me, knows I'm completely over the top when it comes to dogs! Any animal really, but especially dogs! I adore those sloppy dog kisses, cute wiggly butts, their silly ridiculous habits that define their personalities and I believe there is even something special and endearing about their "naughty" little habits!
It was only natural when I started photographing again that my main focus would be pets. I love being able to provide a unique experience and capture images that reflect a pets natural essence and individual personality in beautiful natural light and surroundings. Modern simplistic images, yet expressive and playful.
While I can say I've tried many different ways of photographing pets, it has only been in the last year that my own personal style has started to develop. My best suggestion is to try a variety of different things, but in the end define and embrace your own style. If you are willing to be patient and ready for anything, it will be so worth the wait and you will have some incredible images to show for it. These are just a few things I have found that work for me.
1. Make sure to have plenty of treats on hand along with squeak toy or other noisemaker. Animals have short attention spans, and get bored easily, therefore I use these sparingly, just to get attention and a great look!

2. Photograph the pet where it is most natural for them. Although I never suggest for pets to be taken off leash, if they are truly well trained to be off leash, take advantage. Visit a nearby park, scenic location or take a hike. I prefer to shoot in natural light whenever possible and with a wide open aperture. Shooting wide open with dogs will take a lot of practice getting sharp focus. 

3. If the animal is more comfortable at home, scope out nice a backdrop right in the backyard. As shown in the cover image, a tree in bloom with very shallow depth of field worked perfectly. Compose your shot before you actually start shooting. Just like any portrait, make sure to remove any clutter or anything that will deter from the subject.

4. If indoors, find a nice window to photograph near. Soft window light produces such beautiful catch lights in their eyes. 

5. My style is to capture pets in their natural element that show their playful personalities. Not every image has to have the subject looking into the camera in order for it to become a stunning photograph.

6. Try unique compositions or try adding some kind of unexpected element.

7. Don’t forget the owner. I like to shoot some images that will capture the relationship with the pets person but I also like to shoot with the owner in the background, keeping the animal as the main focus.

8. Try shooting from different angles or perspectives. This is one of my favorite images taken from the perspective of the dog overlooking this canyon. I love the serenity of the image along with capturing all of her beautiful markings. 

9. Get down on their level and fill the frame. Focus on their eyes and every detail. 

10. Most important---have fun with it, dogs have some crazy antics, let them be silly, and then capture it!

What's in my bag--
My camera body is a Nikon D700 and I always prefer to shoot in manual. I keep my lenses minimal and at the moment, my favorite and most used is the 50mm/1.8. My other favorite is the 105mm/2.8 (macro). When I'm shooting environmental portraits, I go for my 35mm/2.0. My post edit is done mainly in Lightroom with a minimal amount in Photoshop.
Simply Dog Photography


Anonymous said...

Such great tips, Claudine. I'm looking forward to trying these out!

Sam said...

I love Claudine's photography...it's so fresh and the colours always pop.

Unknown said...

Beautiful and breath taking!

Cheryl said...

Nice article Claudine!! You rock!

Elder Larkin said...

Soo cute! Love the tips and I know I can use these tips when photographing children as well. Love the cover!!