Let’s face it. It’s week 10 and we’re all pretty much sick of school at this point. With the constant stress from the truckloads of assignments and group projects, coupled with our upcoming finals ominously looming above us, I’m sure we are all already looking forward to the end of the semester.
How about clearing your mind from the stress of school by taking up a new hobby during the upcoming summer break? If you’re an animal lover at heart, you might be familiar with pet photography. We’ve all seen adorable photos of dogs and cats on the internet. However, photos hold a deeper meaning when you have a personal relationship with your subject, and are intimately familiar with the process. A quick scroll through Instagram and the ease at which social media has ushered in a new generation of celebrity pooches and felines is evident.
Some pop-pets to check out include @pom.potechin and even @pumpkintheraccoon. You could also search using the hashtag #weeklyfluff for ideas and inspiration for you next pet photography expedition!
Personally, I love taking out my camera and snapping shots of my furry pals from time to time. Capturing that perfect picture moment is not exactly as easy as it seems to be, which is why I have compiled my favourite top tips to help you capture your fur-ball’s Je ne sais quoi.
1. Know how your camera works
Some people naturally assume that you need one of those big, bulky DSLR cameras in order to capture that perfect shot. But that’s not at all the case. In fact, the best pet photos are taken using mobile phones due to the spontaneity of the moment. Just be familiar with how your camera functions work, especially the aperture, shutter and ISO settings.
Here's a quick overview as to how they work:
Aperture: A larger aperture allows more light to enter the lens. The term we use to describe the aperture values is known as a f-stop. A smaller f-stop of 2.8 allows more light to enter the lens and also in your photos having a blurry background. Up the f-stop to f/8 to make the background will become much sharper, albeit at the cost of darkening up the overall scene as there is less light entering the lens. Needless to say, the f-stop you inevitably choose is also dependent on the lighting available at hand. For instance, a larger f-stop of f/8 can only be used if there is enough lighting available on hand.
Shutter: This function is especially important when it comes to snapping photos of animals, because we all know how ‘well-behaved’ our pets are when we are trying to get them to stay still. Increasing your shutter speed helps to catch them in action, while a lower shutter speed can help to give a blurry motion effect in your photograph. This function is tricky and takes a little more effort in getting used to. Experiment with the shutter speeds before calling Fido over for a portrait.
ISO: The ISO is a measure of the light sensitivity of the area you're in. Typically, in the daytime, the ISO setting should generally be around 100-200. However, if the weather is overcast or it is nearing sundown, crank up the ISO. This may take a bit of trial and error. Try taking a shot after changing the ISO to test the waters and see which works best for you."
2. Calm down or Fido can’t relax either
I don’t want to steal Caesar Millan’s job here but it’s important to stay calm and keep energy levels low when taking that perfect picture. Think of your fur-ball as a living, breathing sponge, absorbing all the emotions that surround it. If you’re getting upset at not getting that perfect angle, he or she is going to sense that, making it even harder for you to take a photo.
3. See eye to eye
Your pet doesn’t always have to look up to you. Try getting down on your knees and see the world from your pet’s point-of-view. Having Fido’s favourite toy or snack in hand can be a useful trick to get his attention and face the camera. Here's the amazing thing about getting onto your pet's eye level: For one, you get to capture the soul in your pet's eyes. Zooming in on your pet's eyes can help you capture that precious little sparkle that'll melt anyone's hearts when they see your masterpiece. Secondly, you won't end up getting just a shot of your fur-ball's head. Just like regular portrait photography, it is all about capturing the features and locking in that intimate moment between you and your pet.
Now take a deep breath and hold it while pressing the shutter to prevent a blurry image. Holding in your breath while taking the shot helps to reduce shakiness and helps the photo come out sharper. This is a useful trick for times when you are without a tripod.
4. Natural Lighting is best
There’s no need to buy expensive lighting gear when it comes to getting good pictures. In fact, the bright lights might scare your fur-ball away! Take note of white walls when taking the photo, as it may reflect the light from the camera and turn your photo into something out of a horror movie. Try snapping a shot of Fluffy by the window on a sunny day. The natural lighting will help you to capture that perfect portrait.
5. Have a concept
A quick scroll through Pinterest makes it apparent how having a concept or theme helps make Cutie stand out in his or her photos. You could try sticking to a certain colour scheme, or even come up with different festive ones for compilation into an annual calendar later on! The possibilities are endless. Plus, animal calendars make great gifts for fellow animal lovers!
There you have it! My personal top-tips to pet photography. Remember, it’s important to be patient, especially when you’re trying out pet photography for the first time. Professional photographers often spend hours just to capture that one perfect shot. And plus, you’re dealing with a bubbly bundle of energy. It may take a while, but hey, this at least gives you the opportunity to bond with your beloved fur-ball.