One of the top reasons parents with DSLRs first got their cameras was to take photos of their children...to capture moments of all kinds. Usually kids are willing subjects, but sometimes they're not (photographer's child syndrome, anyone?). Or maybe they're at school, or maybe you're just looking to branch out and take photos of someone or something else. Now is the time for you to start taking photos of that adorable, fuzzy part of your family: the family pet.
Taking photos of your pet is fun, rewarding, and another great way to grow your photography skills. Having prints of your family's pet on the wall or the photo album right next to those of the rest of the family makes a happy home!
While I'm usually a Rhode Island children's photographer, I have quite a bit of experience photographing my own family's pets when I'm not working. We currently have a cat named Lionel who is quite the character, and he's fun to photograph, even when it's challenging. He's my number one subject. Below I share three tips for getting album-worthy photos of your own family's pet. Do you love taking photos of your pet? Let me know in the comments!
1. If you're inside, go towards the best light.
It's easier to find nice light and pleasing backgrounds for outdoor photos. It's a little more tricky (but definitely not impossible!) indoors. Gravitate towards light coming in from windows or doors. If your pet has a favorite spot or room in the house, watch how the light falls in that spot at various times during the day to determine when the best photo ops will be. Most of my indoor photos of Lionel are in the kitchen, where we have a large sliding glass door. Mid mornings offer the best light, but there is usable light even on cloudy afternoons.
2. Choose your lens/focal length wisely.
If your pet is friendly and doesn't mind having you and your camera very close to him, (or sleeps quite a lot and isn't bothered by someone snapping away closeby while he's snoozing) a wide focal length will work well. However if Fido or Ms. Kitty goes running when the camera comes out, using a longer focal length might be in order. I'm able to photograph Lionel with a combination of wide angle and telephoto lenses depending on his mood, but the older he gets, the more over my camera he's getting. This requires me using a longer lens, pretending I'm on safari observing cats, and talking to myself in a National Geographic Wild voice. This is normal, right?
3. Use a focus mode suited to capturing action
Unless your pet is sound asleep, they are likely on the move, or about to be on the move. Sometimes they move really fast. When I take Lionel's photos, I nearly always have my Canon camera in AI Servo focus mode; this tracks moving subjects. Nikon's equivalent is AF-C. If you're newer to your camera and are still more comfortable using some of the more automatic modes on your camera, using the sports mode on your camera will work well for tracking moving pets.