Garanimals Blog

December 7th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Tips for Photographing Pets

This time of year, we all have our cameras ready so we don’t miss a single holiday moment. I loved Audrey’s family portraits, and we do something similar, although not as successfully, especially when we try to incorporate our pets —always a disaster. I decided to ask my friend, world-class photographer Matt Dinerstein, for some tips.

“Photographing animals is a lot like working with very little kids,” he said. “You need lots of patience.” Here are some of Matt’s suggestions for photographing pets:

  1. Know your animal — pick the time and place where your pet will be most comfortable.
  2. Use toys to distract and treats to rewards — ”Dogs will work for their treat,” said Matt. “If trained at all, they will sit and wait, knowing the treat will come. Cats tend to be distracted by treats and will be more agreeable when they have full bellies.”
  3. Find a wrangler — “A second person can really help,” said Matt. “You can stay positioned with the camera and the wrangler can bring the animal back into frame. Have your helper stand just behind you to draw the animal’s attention while still keeping it faced toward the camera.”
  4. Use a clean background — “A clean, uncluttered background will make your animal the center of attention,” said Matt. “Focus on the eyes. This doesn’t necessarily mean composing around the animal’s eyes. It means setting the focus on they eyes, then moving the camera to compose the shot.”
  5. Get down on their level — “Don’t stand above and shoot down at your pet,” said Matt. “Get down on the ground if you have to and put your camera at the animal’s eye level.”

Here are a few more hints from our pro:

  • Cats love to look out the window. Follow them to their favorite spot and take advantage of the natural light.
  • Visualize what you want your photo to look like, then set your camera and wait for the animal to come into frame. This is especially useful for action shots.
  • Don’t try to shoot through the bars of a cage. Bring the animal into the open, or at least open the cage door.

“Just as when photographing people, getting a decent picture of a single subject is relatively easy,” said Matt. “With each animal you add, the difficulty grows exponentially. The beauty of digital cameras is that you can take as many shots as you need to get the right one.”

Matt Dinerstein is a professional photographer based in Chicago. These are all his photos. See more on his Flickr page.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.





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