Key Tips for Capturing Impressive Pet Photos

Key Tips for Capturing Impressive Pet Photos

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Key Tips for Capturing Impressive Pet Photos

To All Pet Lovers: A Photography Lesson from Pet Photographer Cass

Ever wonder what makes a great photo? To all pet lovers, it can simply mean capturing the adorable moments of pets in everyday lives. You may have a thousand of their photos in your mobile phone which you find difficult to remove. But if you look closely, most of the photos actually look quite alike in terms of ambience, angle and the pets’ expressions. Out of the large collection, sometimes you may find a couple photos that you are particularly fond of, because of the tension in the photo, the record of a truly special moment or the delicate emotions that only you understand. 

In this article, let’s find out what makes a great shot and how we can capture photos that look truly impressive!
 

Composition, Aesthetics and An Interesting Focal Point

An eye-catching photo is most likely the one with surprising composition and sense of space. The subject does not necessarily stand or sit in the center of the frame. Rather, you should try placing it in different locations. Placing the subject and other element in diagonal corners, such as the top-left and bottom-right corners, to create an interesting connotation can be a nice try. Browse online and you can learn more about the aesthetics created with the Golden Ratio in Composition. 

To capture photo that makes viewers smile, you have to observe carefully to find out what can be used as the interesting focal point of your photo.

Besides, compositional aesthetics can be greatly enhanced by making appropriate cropping of your photo in post-editing. Create space, tighten the angle of view or tilt the photo intentionally are some of the cropping techniques that you may find useful. The rule of thumb is to keep trying so you will become more sensitive to aesthetics.

 
 

Practice makes perfect. Always try looking for something interesting to capture out of the ordinary.
EOS 5D Mark II | EF 28 mm f/1.8 USM | 1/1600 f/2.2  ISO100
 

A Nice Shooting Angle Saves Half the Work
 

Shooting angle is something you have to pay attention to if you want your photos to look impressive. Many pet lovers are just too “lazy” when they take photos of their pets, capturing simply from the human perspective, i.e. a 45-degree top-down angle, resulting in lack of variation in background and facial expressions. In fact, just a simple movement to bring the lens down to meet the pets’ line of vision can make a big difference, as this can help create a more story-telling background and reveal the emotions of pets to make them look more human. Just be creative and try out different angles you can think of. You may be pleasantly surprised of what you get! Of course, there is nothing wrong to capture from the human perspective, but trying to be more diverse will always do you good!
 

This is the usual angle we look at the adorable faces of our pets. 
EOS 5D Mark II | EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM | 1/250 f/2.5  ISO1600

 

Timing Matters
 

You are right! We also talk about decisive moment in pet photography! Of course, what we are talking here is unlike streetscape photography where things are fleeting. Timing matters as it is important for you to know your pets well so you can expect what is coming and be responsive. In pet photography, you can be certain and even create the “decisive moment” yourselves! For example, you know what time in a day your pets will be stretching themselves, or under what circumstances will they do a funny pose. These can be a repeated occurrence, but usually last only a second or half. That is why we have to be prepared, be observant and responsive, and know how to “steal time” before the action comes. For example, we better plan ahead and preset the focus before we scream and press the shutter button half a second before we expect the pets to listen curiously. Timing also means that you respect what the pets need, both emotionally and physiologically, and take dynamic shots when they are active while static shots when they need to rest.  
 

These 2-month-old puppies are usually too active that you can hardly make them stay quiet and still. But if you know their nap time, it becomes easy to take a shot like this – cuddling cutely and facing the camera!
EOS 5D Mark II | EF 100 mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM | 1/180 f/3.5  ISO200
 

I did not know if this moment would happen or not, but I am always ready when it comes!
Left: EOS 5D Mark II | EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM 1/1500 f/5.6 ISO400
Right: EOS 5D Mark II | EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM | 1/180 f/2.5 ISO800
 
 

A Clean Background is Important
 

Even if you manage to capture a truly special moment, your photo will not look impressive if the background is messy. You can use lots of different backgrounds when shooting outdoor, simply change the shooting location or angle to avoid the trash bins, vehicles or pedestrians. Yet, the choice for location and angle may be limited if you are shooting at home. In addition to using large aperture to achieve a blurry background, you can use fabrics like bed sheets, curtains or towels to create a temporary background, hiding the sundries while achieving a more harmonious color tone for the photo. 

 

I covered the dark-colored floor with a light blue cloth to create a softer tone for the photo.
EOS 5D Mark II | EF 50mm f/1.4 USM 1/180  f/2.8 ISO100
 

Silhouette and Under Exposed Shots
 

Getting bored with the sofa, bed or windowsill for your home shooting? Why not take some silhouette shots by the window? Lower the exposure level until you get rim lights on the subject and other indoor elements, and accentuate the contours by selecting the shooting angle carefully. This can help you create artistic monochrome photos at home effortlessly. Photos can look very poetic if you pick a rainy day to shoot by the window. 


These photos convey the emotions of pets as they stared out at the street waiting for their owners to come home.
Left: EOS 5D Mark II | EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM | 1/10  f/1.4  ISO5000  
Right: EOS 5D Mark II | EF 100 mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM | 1/180 f/2.8  ISO400
 
 

Feature Shots of Different Parts of the Pets’ Bodies
 

I often joke that I am a “nude” photographer, as I take photos of pets who are always naked! Their paws, ankles, tummies and facial features are just so adorable. Even their feelings for us are true and unconditional. May be this is why human and pets can be so in love. When it comes to pet photography, it does not always have to be full-length or half-length shots. You can also take feature shots of part of their bodies that you like most. A large aperture, a 50mm focal length, a zoom lens that help zoom into the featured area or even a macro lens can do the job well. Shoot with light coming from a side direction or slightly from the back can create a beautiful photo result.

 

The magic tail, meat floss and unique texture of the nose.
Left: EOS 5D Mark II | EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM | 1/250  f/2.8  ISO200
Middle: EOS 5D Mark II | EF 28 mm f/1.8 USM | 1/180 f/5.6  ISO400 
Right: EOS 5D Mark II | EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM | 1/1600  f/1.4  ISO100  
 

Lastly, I would say that the most important tip is to savour every moment in life with your pets. Feel the love and bond with heart, and the photos you take will reflect the same too! My blessings to you all and your pets. No matter how the world is, I hope you can always smile for each other and embark on a fruitful life journey together!

EOS 5D Mark II | EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM | 1/320  f/2  ISO100
 
 
About Cass Shing-Biegala:

Frequently interviewed in TV and magazines, Cass captures the valuable moments, love and bond between human and pets with her unique philosophy and sensitivity. Cass is now living in Poland building her own Casmati Village for city people to reconnect to nature and inner wisdom. Every year she makes pet photography trips to HK and loves to engage in private online photo classes with pet owners.
Website of her works: www.shingcass.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/shingcass/
 
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