When we first start out into the world of photography, one of the first things we do is photograph our pets. I can remember my first attempt at snapping my dog, it resulted in many blurry pictures, dirty knees and a big slobber mark across the lens!
Pets are much harder to photograph than people, mainly because with people you can pose them, tell them where to stand, tell them to move slightly, and more importantly get them to stay still.
With animals the key is to be able to get to there level, shoot directly at them rather than looking down on them. The trouble with this is, as soon as you get down on your knees the animal will probably want to come and say hello.
Below are a few hints and tips that i have picked up along the way.
Tip 1 - Toys & Treats
All dogs and cats love a toy or a treat. If you give a dog a treat, chances are it will forget everything else that is going on around you and you will be able to move away from it and grab some shots.
Tip 2 - Timing
Another great time to photograph cats and dogs is when they are sleeping. My cat will quite happily sleep for 23 hours a day, so I can get many opportunities to get some nice close up shots when its either asleep or just woken up and is pretty chilled out. Dogs are the same, wait till its asleep, take a few shots, and then give a little squeak on its toy or shout its name, you can then get a couple of shots where its very alert with its ears pricked up.
Tip 3 - Get Some Help
Having someone to occupy the dog will also really help. You can get them to make it sit, play with it, make it run around etc. This again will draw the attention away form you.
Tip 4 - Focusing
Two areas of focusing that you need to watch. Firstly you need to make sure that you are not shooting on a to shallow depth of field. Yes you may want to blur the background, but you also want to keep some detail in the animal, if you have a dog and you focus on the eyes, if you are shooting on maybe f2.8 or lower, you may find that the nose is already out of focus.
The other area of focusing that you need to watch is if you are after some action shots. change your focusing mode to 'continuous' rather than 'one shot' this will enable your camera to continuously re focus if the distance changes between you and the subject.
Tip 5 - Flash
Flash can cause many problems when dealing with pets. Just like humans, there eye colour will be effected so its always best to avoid using it where possible. the other problem of using it is of cause it will distract the animal. Much better to use natural light, and if you are experiencing slow shutter speeds then raise the ISO up until we get to a more suitable speed.