An area of photography that is becoming extremely popular, pet photography makes for a particularly tough challenge to any newcomer to photography, but if mastered successfully will be very rewarding for you and your customers.
Most families own some form of a pet and the techniques that you will use will be different with each pet you come across. Unlike humans, pets are not going to pose for you, you can’t give them instructions and they won’t sit in a studio posing in front of the camera. So how do you get successful pet photography portraits?
Pets are tricky subjects for any photographer to deal with - a pet photographer requires everlasting patience and must be capable of reacting quickly when the pet does something interesting. Try to think of unusual ways to photograph your pet. With a large pet, shoot in close and use a wide angle lens to emphasise the animal’s large size.
Try working at eye level to the pet, this may mean that you’ll have to get on the ground, and if you do, be careful of the background. Avoid distraction that will take from the pet portrait.
If you are shooting pet birds, take them out of the cage. Make sure that you close all the windows and doors before the shoot. Remove the perch from the cage and place near a window. This is the normal sitting place for the bird and the natural light from the window will give your image some extra mood. Use a macro lens to get in real close and fill the frame on your camera.
Dogs are the easiest pet to photograph. Always keep the owner of the pet on hand. Dogs will take commands from the owner and make your job a lot easier.
Bait may be used in controlling some pets. A small ball can be handy if you are photographing kittens. Placing food in a garden will also help in getting a pet to stay still. Young pets won’t stay still for two long so you must react quickly. Garden pets can also be easy to photograph. Rabbits will laze around the garden nibbling on grass and may make for an interesting image.
Shoot the pet in the hands of the owner or in the hands of children. This will create extra sales.
Pet photography can be a very profitable market if done correctly. Images of pets are used all over the world in magazines and other photography publications. After taking a photograph of a pet ask the owner if they will sign a release form that allows you to sell the pet image. Make sure that you carry these release forms at all times. While this may not be needed - it may save you hassle in the future when selling the pet photograph.
TJ Tierney is an award winning Irish Landscape photographer. For more tips you can visit his photography site. To view his images visit his on-line gallery of pictures of Ireland or see his travel site.