7 Pet Photography Tips
Wildlife photographer and "Wild Babies" author Traer Scott offers her tips for making sure your fur-babies are camera-ready.
If you're ready be overcome with fits of delight over some undeniable, cuddly, huggable cuteness, then check out photographer Traer Scott's new photo book Wild Babies: Photographs of Baby Animals From Giraffes to Hummingbirds. An adorable apocalypse, the book features Scott's images of bunnies, squirrels and raccoons shot against colorful backdrops and resplendent in all of their dewy-eyed and fluffy perfection. I dare you not to "awwwwwww."
In a gesture of goodwill, Scott offered to help amateur shutterbugs up their animal-photography game with seven tips for shooting your best labradoodle and top-notch Persian cat pictures.
Oh, and we have shared some of Scott's Wild Babies portraits below for your delectation. You're welcome.
Traer Scott's 7 Top Pet-Photography Tips
1. The Great Outdoors
Natural light is your best friend when photographing your pets. When possible, shoot outside or next to a large window. Always try to avoid using a direct flash which results in no eye detail (red eye). An animal’s eyes are the window to his soul, and you want to see them.
2. Made in the Shade
When shooting outside, avoid harsh, direct sunlight which washes out detail. Opt instead for shady spots or overcast days.
3. Up Close and Personal
Make the shot about your dog or cat, not the wall behind him. Most cameras have a macro or close-up feature on them. This enables you to get closer than usual with your camera without everything being blurry. This will also help to eliminate distractions from the background.
4. Trick and Treat
As all dog owners know, most pooches are highly motivated by food. Pick a treat that is absolutely irresistible, like cut-up hot dogs or cheese. If you have someone helping you, get them to hold the treat over your head while you’re shooting in order to get a nice straight-on face shot. If you’re alone, use one hand to shoot and the other to maneuver the treat and direct your dog’s gaze.
5. Toy Story
Some dogs are not that crazy about food or get nervous in front of the camera and lose their appetite. If your dog falls into this category (or even if he doesn’t) you may want to try a squeaky toy, tennis ball, shoe or anything that they covet. Cats are usually much more interested in toys than treats. Try using any toy that triggers hunting or stalking instincts in order to get past that “cat stare.” Dangly feather toys are often very successful, but unless you’re skilled at Photoshop, make sure to get it out of the shot before you click the shutter.
6. The Dog (Or Cat) Whistler
The idea behind photographing any animal is to catch them in a state of simply being themselves. You know your pet’s personality better than anyone, but remember that just like people, pets’ demeanors often change when a camera is introduced. Sometimes momentarily distracting them from the odd thing in your hands is the best way to get an emotive shot. Try making high-pitched squeals, whistles, meowing, bird calls or any odd noise that isn’t threatening. Sounds often immediately grab their attention and pique natural curiosity. Be ready with the camera; these candid moments don’t last long.
7. Patience Is a Virtue
It often takes many, many shots to get the “right” one of an animal. Once you get the hang of it though, you’ll find that you fall into a routine and need to take fewer photos. Try getting a family member to play with the dog or cat and then photograph them while they are engaged in this enjoyable, disarming activity. You may also end up with some amazing candid family photos.