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Following the launch of Apple’s iPhone 11 and its portrait mode, Petplan has teamed up with Pet Behaviourist Nick Jones, to teach you the do’s and don’ts of photographing pets.

Credit: apple

Everyone wants great pictures of their pets, whether it’s to show them off to friends or treasure for yourself. However, pet photography can be difficult and if you don’t take into account your pet’s needs, then it can become a stressful experience.

Plan ahead

Having a plan in place could make photographing your pet easier. Think about a concept for your photos and which shots you want. Everything you need for your shoot should be set up before your pet is involved at all.

Relax them

A tense pet is not one that will stay still for your photos. Even if you get some shots, this tension will most likely show. Try to keep them relaxed by:

  • Scheduling your session for the time of day that your pet is more docile.
  • Try to issue commands calmly and not to overload your pet with too many.
  • Moving slowly as sudden movements are likely to make them move too, especially if you are photographing a cat.
  • Take your photographs in a surrounding your pet will be familiar with and feel comfortable in.
  • Relaxing yourself. Animals will sense your anxiety and mirror it.

Get them comfortable with the camera

Shutter clicks and flash can be disorienting for an animal. It is important that you start your session by familiarising your pet with these things. Pet Behaviourist Nick Jones says that starting your pet at an early age will make this much easier. If photographing a dog, get them acquainted with the camera by allowing them to sniff it.

Get on their level

Try bringing the camera down to your pet’s eye-level, rather than shooting down at them from standing. This will enable you to frame your pet’s face better and achieve are more aesthetically-pleasing portrait. You can even try using a long-lens in this position, which would allow you to get some great close-ups of your pet’s expressions.

Light

It is always best to photograph in natural light. Using a flash generally looks worse and has the potential to frighten your pet. Flash should only be used when you are photographing inside and with a lack of natural light. If possible, use a flash that you can angle separately from the camera – point this upwards. This will decrease the chances of frightening your pet, as the light will be directed away from them. This also means the flash will bounce off the ceiling and become more natural-looking in the photograph.

Rewards

A long photo session can be demanding for your pet and will test their patience, so it is important that you reward them. Keep their favourite toys and snacks on hand so that you can give reinforce their positive behaviour. This will also create an association between the camera and the treats, which will make future photoshoots easier.

What not to do

  • Avoid dressing your pet up just for a photo. Light accessories, such as a neckerchief, may be acceptable. However, proper clothing is not meant to be worn by animals; it is uncomfortable for them and potentially harmful to their breathing.
  • Don’t force them into any positions. Animals do not like this, just as you wouldn’t. You often capture more natural and endearing shots by allowing them to move freely and be themselves.
  • Ensure your shots are safe. Good photos are not worth endangering your pet, so do not photograph in places that may put them a risk.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. Digital cameras mean you don’t need to worry about running out of film, so take lots of pictures, from lots of angles. This will only increase your chance of capturing a great photo to treasure.

Read the full blog with Nick Jones here

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