How to Take Photos of Animals and Pets
Whether it’s taking photos of our furry pals for Instagram or snapping away whilst on safari, taking photos of man’s best friend (and the rest) is something that many of us do. From documenting our puppy’s first few days in their new home or capturing those animals found in the great outdoors on a walk or on holiday – we simply cannot get enough of documenting our pets and other animals’ movements and cute moments too.
Yet, taking photos of animals comes with a lot of difficulties – if you think humans are tricky, then wait until you begin photographing animals who are unable to grasp instructions!
We’ve found out from the experts at USB 4 Photographers for the lowdown on how to get it right.
Be prepared for the unexpected
Animals are, of course, unpredictable. One moment they can be doing something which makes you rush around grabbing your camera and kit so you can document it, and by the time you’re ready, the moment has been missed.
Instead of trying to take pre-arranged shots or frantically grabbing your camera at every opportunity, just take photos as they go about their daily activities instead. Simply set up your camera in your desired location and entice them over by setting up some kind of activity for them. This could be scattering their toys on the ground for example, or placing some treats near where you want to take the photo for example. As you are already in position, you are able to begin taking photos as they continue as normal.
Be prepared for the unexpected with animals – have your camera ready to go at all times, and if time is tight, then just whip out your smart phone!
Get their attention
Unlike humans, who you can tell where to look and when, getting an animal to look at the camera at the right time is an almost hopeless task. Rather than spending your time calling your pets name (which often leads them to zone out), try making an interesting noise or doing something unexpected which causes them to look over – just remember you also need to be ready with your camera too!
You can also download a number of different apps which are designed to get a pets attention too, as they make a noise on your smartphone just as you are about to take a photo when you press the shutter button.
Use natural light
As with many photo subjects, taking photos in natural light is best, as flash can lead the image to look unnatural. Flash can also be particularly startling to animals, so where possible, take your photographs in naturally lit conditions. Flash can also cause red eye in the final photographs and be particularly unflattering on a pet’s coat as it reflects off of particularly shiny fur.
If you do need to use flash, or some form of additional lighting, then create a diffused light source as this creates a more realistic replication of natural light.
While eyes are often labelled as the ‘window to the soul’, the statement also ring true for animals, as they can convey a wealth of expression from the one glance towards the camera. Trying to get eye contact is of course tricky when trying to take photos of an animal, as by now you will have found out that getting their attention is hard when they aren’t interested.
This is where you will need to work hard to get their attention and be ready to capture the image when they do look towards the camera, or in the direction that you want them to.
Get closer, don’t zoom
Zoom can distort an image, so rather than zooming in on an animal, try to get as close as possible – easier said than done in some cases, as you’re unlikely to want to get any closer than necessary to lions on a safari for instance!
However, getting close can make all the difference in providing you with an end-result that you’re happy with. If your pet is already in position then creep up as quietly as possible so that they remain natural and undisturbed.
Use a fast shutter speed or sports mode
Pets move fast – one minute they are posing happily, and the next they are darting all over the place. Using a fast shutter speed will ensure that you don’t waste valuable time and can take a sharp, clear photo when your pet has other ideas.
Sports mode is another camera functionality that can be greatly beneficial, as it not only increases shutter speed, but also helps to isolate the focus of the image (the animal in this case) from the background.
Get on their level
Finally, getting on their level will allow you to capture from an angle that you don’t usually see as the photographer. Whether you are laying on your tummy with your camera poised as your pet walks towards you or in some other contortionist-esque pose, it’s bound to create an interesting photograph.
Taking photographs of animals is certainly not a ‘snap and go’ process, and requires far more attention to detail than most forms of photography. Practice really does make perfect where pet photography is concerned!