Pet Photography for All Skill Levels

Whether it’s dog handling or pet photography, professionals certainly make it look easier than it is.  Capturing decent photos of my big dogs is about as easy for me as sewing a cargo bed liner some days.  Not easy.

If I succumb to the typical victim mentality, I would tell you it is because my phone is too slow, my camera is never on the right setting, my dogs won’t sit still, shut their mouths or stop drooling.  While all of these are true, they are not the reason for my less than awesome pet photography.

While it would be nice for every picture of Junior and Sulley to be perfect, my standards are much lower and commensurate with my skill set: clear images with a big dog (and minimal slobber…although that is asking a lot some days).

With this in mind, I reached out to three of my favorite professional pet photographers to get some advice.  My objective was not to seek “How to” information on capturing perfect photos, but to gather simple, actionable tips for people of all skill levels to capture better quality photos of our big dogs.

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Pet Photography Tips From the Professionals

Claudia Manciu – Claudia Pet Photography

Q:  If dog owners would just do THIS, the quality of their dog’s images would improve substantially!  What would you say that one thing is?  Why?  How has it helped you?

Claudia: Patience. To better capture their personalities you need to be patient with them.  Wait for the right moment.  Do not rush them or force them to pose.  Instead of attempting a posed shot, go along with their playfulness and make that the main feature of your image.  Also, catching them when they’re not aware you are watching can allow you to capture their natural behavior without interrupting their “business”.  Patience will pay off eventually.

Q:  What piece of pet photography equipment could you not live without?  Why?

Claudia:  Well, besides my Nikon d750, shooting dogs (or any other pets) outdoors is a 70-200mm lens.  This lens gives me the reach I need plus it’s fast and produces quality images.  At 200mm, the bokeh is amazingly beautiful.

For indoors, I like the Sigma 50mm ART. It focuses very fast, is very accurate, and the bokeh is creamy and very sharp.  I truly can’t find anything I don’t like about this lens.

**For those, like me, who had never heard of the word bokeh before, read What is Bokeh?   You learn something new every day!**

Q:  What is the biggest mistake you see dog owners make when photographing their dogs? 

Claudia:  Photographing them while standing. While sometimes a different angle is welcome, getting down at their level and aiming for their eyes allows you to, for a moment, enter their world to learn what it’s like to be a dog.   The bonus to this perspective is that they tend to look at you funny too.  Don’t be afraid to get down and dirty.

Claudia lives near Seattle, Washington with her husband, Paul, her two mastiffs, Boromir and Pippin, and their cat, Boomerang.  She can be reached on her website ClaudiaPetPhotography.com.

Holly Montgomery – Brindleberry Acres

Q:  If dog owners would just do THIS, the quality of their dog’s images would improve substantially!  What would you say that one thing is?  Why?  How has it helped you? 

Holly:  The biggest thing pet parents could do to improve the quality of their images would be to find the natural light. When outside, turn your dog’s face toward the sun/light source. When indoors, turn off the house lights and open your blinds. Get your dog close to the window and illuminate their face with the window light. When you shoot in “auto” mode (such as you would with a smartphone for example) you have to do all you can to help your camera make the smartest decisions that will result in the best images.

I shoot in manual mode with my DSLR camera, so I can tell the camera what I want it to do so I don’t necessarily have to face a dog into the light for example. I can shoot with the light behind them and tell my camera to expose for the dog’s face, not the bright sky. However, a camera shooting in auto is likely to darken the dog’s face and make the sky nice and pretty which effectively turns the subject into a big, dark blob. So when shooting on auto, turn your dog’s face into the light for the best results!

*For more great pet photography tips for those using only a smartphone, check out Holly’s article, How to Take Incredible Photos of your Dog with your Smartphone

Q:  What piece of pet photography equipment could you not live without?  Why? 

Holly: The piece of photography equipment I definitely could not live without would be my Canon 1DX camera body and my lenses obviously. More specifically, my 70-200mm lens is a must have for a dog photographer!

In terms of non-photography gear, I couldn’t live without my noisemaker necklace.  It’s great for getting a dog’s attention!

 

Q:  What is the biggest mistake you see dog owners make when photographing their dogs? 

Holly:  One of the biggest mistakes that pet parents make when photographing their dogs is always taking their photos from a standing position, looking down on their dogs. You can get a much more engaging photo if you get down to the dog’s level, and take the photos from there.

Holly lives in Calgary, AB Canada with her husband Ron, and her three dogs: Grizz, Kingsley and Pebbles.  She can be found at BrindleberryPetPhoto.com, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and by email at Holly@BrindleberryPetPhoto.com.  When she isn’t busy with pet photography, Holly is the author of a fantastic blog, Brindleberry Acres, filled with great tips and tools for savvy dog owners who want to better care for their dogs.

Maria Ruoto – Dunraven Photography

Q:  If dog owners would just do THIS, the quality of their dog’s images would improve substantially!  What would you say that one thing is?  Why?  How has it helped you? 

Maria:  Stop photographing their dogs from above. You’re going to get the best shots when photographing your dogs when you do so at their level or shooting up. You get a better perspective and it’s simply a more flattering angle. I think that is one of the things that help me capture pictures that are truer to the animals I photograph.

Q:  What piece of pet photography equipment could you not live without?  Why? 

Maria: In addition to my Nikon D7100 (soon to be Nikon 810 or Nikon 850), my favorite piece of equipment is my 600mm lens. It allows me to shoot truly candid pictures.

Q:  What is the biggest mistake you see dog owners make when photographing their dogs? 

Maria: Not giving any thought to the background. The background is part of the picture. It can make a good picture great or have the opposite affect – and make a good picture fail.

In addition to her amazing pet photography skills, Maria has been my go to source for all things nosework and dog sports.  She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband Bill, their two Mastiffs Regan and Amity, and a variety of other creatures great and small.  Maria can be reached by email  at MariaRuoto@me.com and on Facebook.

Pet Photography – Our Turn

If I asked YOU the same three questions as I posed to these professional photographers, what would you say?  What, if any, pet photography tips would you add to the list above?  I would love to hear from you in the comments below.  And if you happen to have some dog parent friends who could use some of the professional tips from Claudia, Holly and Maria, please share this with them using the buttons below.

It is at this point that I suppose I should offer some of my own tips for photographing big dogs, considering I’m Big Dog Mom and all (again… NOT to be confused with Big Mom).

Well, here’s my advice for all you big dog owners out there; grab a few drool cloths, a squeaker toy and head outside.

Remember our standard isn’t picture perfect, it is a clear image with minimal drool.

Happy Shooting!

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Pet Photography Made Simple With 3 Easy and Actionable Tips From the Professionals ultima modifica: 2017-11-21T22:34:13+00:00 da BigDogMom
Are you tired of blurry, dark, and grainy pictures of your dogs?  Here are some simple picture taking tips by 3 top pet photographers. #PetPhotography #BigDogs #AmateurPhotographer #BigDogs  Pet Photography / Pet Photography Tips / Pet Photography Ideas / Picture Taking Tips