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7 Tips for Better Pet Photos

September 4, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Today, I am honored to have featured guest blogger, Sonia Charry, join us to share some great tips on how to get the best photos of your pet.  As many of you know, I am constantly taking pictures of my three dogs. I thought Sonia’s tips were excellent. Sonia is a proud dog mom and dog blogger. You can see many of her amazing photos on her blog Big Dog Blog at PawPosse.com.

A proud pet parent can never have too many photos of their pet. Sometimes, what should be the perfect photo turns out blurry or featuring scary pet eyes. Luckily, 7 simple tips will help you get plenty of photos you’ll love.

1)     Always have your camera handy.

One trick of professional photographers: Take lots of photos. The more you take, the better your chances are of getting a great one. It’s easier to do when your camera is always handy.

The other benefit: You’ll get natural photos of your pet more easily. Does your dog sleep in a funny position? Does your cat look especially graceful in her favorite stretch? With a camera at hand, you can quickly reach for it and snap photos without getting up and distracting them from the perfect pose.

2)     Get familiar with your camera’s settings.

Photos come out blurry when your pet moves faster than the camera snaps the photo. Today, even basic digital cameras and cameras on phones include settings that allow you to take photos with faster snaps (or “exposures”) to reduce the chance of blurriness. Check your camera’s settings to see if it has a pet or sports setting. These settings are automatically set to take shorter exposures and get better photos of movement.

3)     Use commands and bribes.

If you still get blurry photos, try getting your pet to sit still. Tell your dog to sit and stay, or hold a piece of tuna near the camera to get your cat to focus. It may not be a completely candid shot, but you’ll still get a great photo of your pet. You can see in the photo of my dog Nala that though I told her to sit and stay, her personality still shines through.

4)     Get outside.

Natural light is by far the best for photographs. Flash sometimes distorts natural colors, creates distracting shadows, and makes pet eyes to look terrifying. Natural light, on the other hand, lights up the entire shot and keeps eyes looking natural. For the best lighting, have the sun at your back and your pet facing the light. Just beware of your own shadow blocking your pet.

5)     Learn the basics of photo editing.

Sometimes one flaw is all that stands between you and great photo. Before you say “Photoshop is too complicated,” know this: it’s not that hard or expensive. While official Adobe Photoshop software can set you back a few hundred bucks, GIMP is a free alternative that I’ve been using happily for years. I learned how to use it by searching online for GIMP tutorial and found a treasure trove of help.

For example: Sometimes you can’t avoid taking a shot indoors with flash and your pet ends up with demon eyes. I searched for “GIMP tutorial fix pet eyes” and found this free step-by-step video tutorial. It was easy – 2 minutes and my photo was saved.

6)     Practice cropping.

Cropping makes a huge difference in photos. Photographers often cite the Rule of Thirds, which creates a tic-tac-toe grid across photos and puts points of interest where gridlines intersect. The photo of Nala above is a testament to how powerful this idea is. Take a look at the original, then the Rule of Thirds at work:

It’s a mess. My shadow is blocking a big part of the photo, Nala is oddly off-centered, and nothing aligns to the grid except my shadow. Ugh.

Now, take a look at it after cropping with the Rule of Thirds applied:

Suddenly, your eyes are drawn to her face at an intersection point. The sky looks more dramatic now that it covers two-thirds of the background. My shadow is no longer ruining the photo.

Cropping works wonders.

7)     Take a different angle.

Pictures get boring when you’re always pointing your lens down at your pet. If your cat is perched high up, kneel down and shoot upwards to get a sense of height in your photo. If your dog is laying at someone’s feet, get your camera close to the floor and capture the dog with just the person’s feet, not their whole body, to frame it from your dog’s perspective. Mix it up.

The best part of photography is that there’s no one right way to do it. Come up with crazy ideas and try them all. Some of my favorite photos are ones I never thought would come out well. Use these 7 tips to make the most of your photos so you’ll have lasting images you’ll treasure.

This guest post comes from Sonia Charry, a proud dog mom who has more photos of her dog than of her husband. Many of these photos end up on her Big Dog Blog at PawPosse.com. If you’d like to have Sonia guest post for you, contact her at info[at]pawposse[dot]com.

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  1. September 4, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    Excellent, basic tips, and she followed an important tip: Keep it simple! Promoting GIMP is wonderful too – free, quality software online, yipee!

    • September 5, 2012 at 5:21 PM

      Natasha, glad you liked it! GIMP is fantastic, I am so thankful to the programmers who make it possible!

  2. September 4, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    Thanks for the tips! I confess I am the worst about #2… I’ve had my camera for over a year and I STILL have “read camera instructions” on my to-do list. I really really really need to do that!

    • September 5, 2012 at 5:22 PM

      Happy to share, Jackie! I haven’t bothered to read the instructions for my camera. There’s so much to learn, it works much better for me if I just start playing around and look up instructions as specific questions come up. Hope that helps 🙂

  3. To Shea
    September 4, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Good Tips for beginners!!!!
    I’m just learning about taking good photos too!!!
    However, one advantage I Do have is that I have been using Photoshop for over 10 years.
    I can make a crappy photo look excellent…:-)
    My wife does the same thing,we are both graphic artists by trade, but we cook and sell our own doggy treats…:-)
    Alex and Penny

    • September 5, 2012 at 5:25 PM

      I’m a little jealous of your photo editing skills 😉 Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • To Shea
        September 5, 2012 at 11:27 PM

        Hi Sonia,
        Thank you, If you need any help or not sure what to do with a photo, let me know and I will see if I can help you…:-)

  4. September 5, 2012 at 10:57 PM

    Great tips here – my Mum sure needs and appreciates them!! I’m hoping she increases the treats, seriously lacking!! Tee Hee

    I hope you’re having a fun day,

    Your pal Snoopy 🙂

    • Mel
      September 5, 2012 at 11:18 PM

      I hope she increases your treat intake as well Snoopy! Seems the fair thing to do. 🙂

  5. September 7, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    Excellent tips! I’m always taking pictures of my dog! Sometimes it helps to have another person there to take the picture while you are playing with the dog. I’ve gotten some of my best pictures that way. Gracie is focused on me while a friend shots away!

    • Mel
      September 7, 2012 at 10:43 PM

      Great idea Gracie! I wish I had someone else to take the pics sometimes.

  6. September 17, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Great tips!

    • Mel
      September 17, 2012 at 9:38 PM

      I agree!

  1. September 6, 2012 at 1:11 PM
  2. September 13, 2012 at 1:52 AM

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