By Daniel Dupont
February 19th, 2021
Many amateur photographers want to photograph their pets at some point in their lives to keep a lasting memory of them. This challenge is interesting, especially since your subject is usually available. If they are as collaborative as Paco, our Westie, you could have hours of fun.
A good place to start is to visualize the type of image you would like to create. Would you like to take a picture of your dog running around, or your cat with a Christmas bow on their head?
It is quite difficult to create dynamic images with fish, amphibians or snakes, but let's assume that most of you want to photograph a cat or a dog.
In order to achieve interesting pictures, your pet needs to be relaxed. Depending on their character, it is often easier to photograph them in their own home.
Outdoor pictures with natural light
The simplest way to start, especially if your pet can go outside, is to take advantage of natural light. If you have an external flash, couple it to your camera and select the high sync speed so that you have access to all speeds and are not limited to your camera's sync speed.
For your first attempts, position your pet in the light shade of a tree to enjoy a soft light. If you have a flash, adjust it in TTL mode and decrease its power by -2/3 to uncover the shadows. If your pet reacts to the flash, decrease the power of the flash.
For more dynamic images, try to make your pet run around in an open area. Be sure to select a speed fast enough to freeze the motion, between 1/250 sec and 1/500 sec. For depth of field, select an aperture between f/5.6 and f/8. Select continuous autofocus to get sharp images.
Another important factor is to be well positioned and shoot in a favourable light angle. I also prefer to kneel on the ground to be on the same level as my subject.
PRO TIP: Don't forget to activate the burst mode in your camera and take the time to shoot several series of photos. When photographing animals, luck is an important factor, since they cannot listen to precise instructions.
Indoor photography with natural light
If your pet does not go outside, I suggest you position them near a large window and take advantage of the natural light. Also use a flash in TTL mode to lift the shadows and balance the light. Decrease its power by -1 to get a softer and more discreet flash.
Studio style photography
If you have studio flashes, I encourage you to use them. I position two flashes at equal distance from the subject in order to have a uniform light. Make sure that your pet is relaxed and that the whole family is not in the room to distract it. All you will have to do is create shooting scenarios that include his favorite toys.
No matter what type of photo you are trying to take, the most important part is patience, for your pet as well as for you.
And don’t forget: you are in the process of creating unforgettable memories!