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Tuesday, September 4,2012

Snap to It!

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  
Being an animal lover, photographer and mom (to furry, feathered, finned and scaly), I am often asked, “What can I do to take the best images of my pet(s)?” Whether you book a session with me or want to attempt it on your own, these tips will help:

 

Above all ~ be patient, and stay calm. Will work for food ~ do not feed dogs or cats before photographing them. Have a high-value treat ready. I use my homemade chicken liver brownies (recipe upon request). Ask them sit, wait, and down-stay.

Avoid the predatory angle. Get on the pet’s eye level. Lie on your belly, on the ground, to capture the shot.

Opt for natural outdoor lighting, whenever possible. Have a black dog? Surround them in a light and textured or light-colored background.

We live in a tropical paradise, so I rarely use studio backdrops. Pet on a white backdrop…ho hum, overdone. Go to the park, a dog-friendly beach or pretty garden setting.

Don’t overdo props and cutesy costumes. Keep the focus on the pet.

Ask, don’t insist. Some people excessively OVER handle their pets. They pull their front legs out to make them lie down, or push their butts down, forcing them into a seated position. Allow the pet some freedom, and let the personality show through.

Every dog should know sit, stay, come and down. Don’t be upset with the photographer (in this case, you) because the owner (you) didn’t teach them the basics.

Just like in positive training, use a command once. “Ginger, sit. Sit, Ginger, sit. Sit now, sit here. Sit down” The pet and the photographer will lose patience and interest quickly.

Make it FUN. I have a repertoire of funny noises, a squeaky, and will do whatever it takes (like making a funny face) to get the right expression from the pet, that captures their personality.

Do not center your subject. An asymmetrical image is much more artistic and pleasing to the eye than one plopped in the middle of a space.

Take several frames and experiment with auto and manual s e t t i n g s . C r o p creatively. I once did a “study in whiskers."

Be ready, you never know when you’ll luck out and capture them, just being their loveably fun, animal-self!

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