Tips to Take the Best Pet Photos

Best Pet Photos 101

Wish you could get better pet photos? Do you ever see adorable moments with your pets and think “aaaahhhhh if only I had a camera in my hand!”

If that’s ever been you, listen up. Capturing your fur baby’s cuteness is easier than ever with these expert tips from a pro photographer who spends his free time snapping pics of pets who are up for adoption at his local shelter (let’s all say it together: “awwwwwww!”).

Taking photographs of pets can sometimes be as difficult as shooting a starry night. At least with stars, they tend to stay put in one place for several minutes. But with a few simple tricks and camera settings to keep in mind, it’s not impossible to capture amazing, professional-looking photos of these important family members, worthy of hanging on the wall next to pics of the grandparents.

To help you take great pet photos, we spoke with Josh Norem, a pet and landscape photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

What are some rules to keep in mind?

JN: There are some basic guidelines you can follow. Rule number one: Always focus on the eyes. If the eyes aren’t in focus, the shot is wasted, end of discussion. The way to do this is to make sure you know which focus point is active; don’t let your camera control it, because it will usually focus on what’s closest to the camera (the animal’s nose). You can always change focus points from “auto” to “single point.” Do this (consult your camera’s manual if you don’t know how) and have that focus point right on the animal’s eyes.

You also want to pay attention to the rule of thirds, so when cropping try to get the closest eyeball in the upper or lower quadrant of the frame to give it a pleasing composition. Besides focus and composition, you need to worry about your exposure; if the exposure is too dark or too bright, adjust it using exposure compensation. The last tip is to get at or below eye-level with your subject. This will always add intimacy and a unique perspective to a shot. If you have good focus and exposure, you’re very close to the goal of getting a great image. The rest is timing, practice, and a little bit of luck. – via Digital Trends

How to Get the Perfect Shot

Can’t get your puppy to sit still? Want a photo that helps the viewer connect to your dog’s true personality? Here are all the tips you need to make the most of your photo session and get that perfect shot.dog-photos-1

Getting the shot

Position yourself low since dogs don’t usually walk on their hind legs like humans, they tend to be a good bit closer to the ground than us.  You need to get down to their level.  Along with getting closer, this is the best thing you can do to improve your dog photos.

Fill the frame by getting closer

Consider this quote from one of the great war photographers of the 20th century: “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” – Robert Capa

Dogs are smaller than you think.  You need to get really close to them when you take photos.  Chase them around and get right in their space while they play.  They will love it and your photos will be many times better.  Also, Robert Capa managed to “get closer” while shooting pictures on D-Day, so I think you can handle getting closer to your dog.

Your goal should be to fill the entire picture with the dog.  In fact, try filling the entire picture with just the face of the dog.  Get as close as you can to the dog as your camera’s focusing capabilities will allow. Not sure if you are close enough? Take two steps forward.

Use a wide aperture

Just like when taking portraits of people, try using a wide aperture setting on your camera to blur the background.  This will give you some great results.  I recommend shooting pictures in “Aperture Priority” mode on your camera.  This will allow you to set the camera’s aperture size while letting the camera adjust the shutter speed automatically.  If you are using a portrait lens, try using an aperture of F1.8 or F2.0.  If you are using a wide angle lens, use the lowest aperture the lens supports.  This may be something like F4.

Keep in mind that with these aperture settings, only part of your photo will be in focus.  So make sure you are focusing on the dogs eyes, not his feet or snout.  There’s nothing worse than an almost great shot that has the wrong part of the picture in focus.  Your camera may have different selective focus features to play with if you want more control where in the scene it is focusing. This shot uses an F1.8 aperture setting for a nice shallow depth-of-field effect. Notice the blurred elements in the backgroud and foreground.

Take lots of shots

The whole point of a digital camera is that it doesn’t cost anything to take a picture.  Since you don’t have to pay for film, take lots of pictures!  You can always delete pictures you don’t want.

Dogs move fast.  Your strategy should be to run with the dog (camera positioned low to the ground) and taking pictures like crazy.  If two dogs are playing, a split second can make the difference between the best photo ever and a lame picture where one dog’s paw is blocking the other’s face.
– via Make the Photo

Do you have any awesome photos of your pets? Any tips to share with other fur-friendly families?

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