Handy tips to help get a cracking picture!
Yes, you can actually get high enough quality pictures from mobiles made in the last couple of years, failing that there are always good old fashioned cameras! Here are some tips to getting your pet to look its best when taking pictures.
Treats – Not that you have to give them many, but the idea of getting a treat soon perks up many dogs’ ears and just holding the treat is sometimes enough to spark an engaging look. Remember, wherever that treat is, they will look, so use this to your advantage! This is also true for horses, rattle a bucket of nuts and see who doesn’t look!
Camera position – whether you are taking the pictures with your mobile phone or camera, always try and make sure you are eye level with your subject. So if you have a smaller dog, having them on someone’s lap will make it easier to get a complimenting angle, you don’t want to take pictures from above as this produces distorted images. A good trick for dogs is to have a treat in one hand and your camera in another, so your dog is looking at the treat while you take the picture, giving a very pleasing 3/4 angle portrait.
Light – This is really important one to getting a lovely portrait, and it’s less difficult than you may think! Also, turn the flash off on your phones and cameras. All you need is a window, (I’ll get to outside portraits in a bit) and a second pair of hands to hold your pet. If you set yourself up near a window, or an open door for that matter, the light coming through will act like a soft-box, which is what studios use to get flattering light on a model. So with this directional light from your home-made soft-box, you can start to play around with hand positions with your treats to move your pet’s head, but remember to keep your camera eye level with the subject. Getting pictures of the bigger four legged friends doesn’t have to be that taxing either, although you may need a helper to rattle the bucket to one side of you to get them to look in the direction you would like. Also, a handy tip for mobile phone users, when using camera mode if you tap on your screen where your pet is, the phone should a) auto-focus on the subject, and b) auto-expose the subject. What I mean by exposure, is how your phone adapts to the different light intensities to get the best image, just hold your phone up and tap different light and dark areas and see it try and focus on those areas!
A few people have asked questions about how far away they should be to their pets when taking pictures, and that all depends on what you’re using to take the pictures. If you are using a mobile or a compact camera (small digital camera) then keep the camera at a distance so that your subject takes up roughly 3/4 of your screen. If you have a DSLR with a zoom lens you can stand further away, but will probably need a third helper to hold the treats!
Here are some examples of good and not so good pictures, kindly modelled by my dog Kaiser.