Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Got Pets? Sharpen Your Skills!

"Look Me In The Eye"

I love animals. They can add a joyful element to your daily routine. Just go to Facebook and see how flooded pages are with pics of every one's favorite hairy critter. I find the trap for me though, when getting portraits of the animals in my life or a good friend's, is to follow them around and if you get the odd shot that works and is cute, then great. But that's what everyone is already doing! The key to a good pet portrait (and I'm in no way saying I'm an expert on this) is to bide your time, anticipate moments that reveal their personality, and find a way to include their environment so that there's a bit of a story, or even a comical twist.

"Before The Pounce"

I specifically chose three images today that go beyond your typical "beauty shot" per se and instead include an element or two that make the image unique. I could tell you all the basics of good candid photography... get down low, get at their eye level, get action shots, make sure features around the face are sharp, etc... but we know those. What I tried to do with these portraits was include an unusual element, like the point of view up into the cat tunnel, or the bright clean background making our little glossy black gentleman above pop more (and he IS an avid reader, hence the books), and I used an angle that suggests he suddenly placed himself in the shot to have a look right into the lens. And below, even though she is such a beautiful cat, the last look the little calico gave me after retreating to her favorite chair was one of reaching her limit with the photographer. Her expression along with the graphic lines of the chair overwhelming the photograph set the tone, giving it an editorial look, and even adds a touch of humour. This one image says so much more than the classic beauty close-up. Although, those will always have their place too, don't get me wrong. I'll dive more into that on Friday.

"Princess & The Camera"

And one last thing, I did use flash for all of these images, along with my 50mm prime lens for intimate DOF. I had my SB-600 with my Fong Light Sphere attached to evenly flood the space with light, kept the flash on TTL settings and let my camera make most of the decisions in regards to the amount of light so I could concentrate on getting the best moments. I will discuss this further though on Friday...

Till then, get creative with photographing the family pet! Many thanks to my friends Laurie and Josephine for letting me photograph their sweet furry friends! And thanks for the ramble folks!


  1. Great post and shots Christine, After reading your post I decided to share a recent photo challenge involving pets that I did a couple of weeks back

  2. Wow, thanks Peter for linking back to the ol' blog :) You're too kind! I LOVE photos of dogs running and playing like kids, they crack me up! Your images are so fun, and using the snow as fill worked perfect! Great post friend!