Tips & Tutorials

Shooting Unpredictable Subjects - Pets

Photographing animals can be extremely challenging. Unlike human subjects, they do not listen to directions, and their movements are often unpredictable. But with a few simple tips, you’ll be able to capture beautiful moments of your beloved furry friends in no time.

What is Your Pet Like?

Understand the character of your pet. If it loves to laze around, capture a shot of it sun tanning by the window. If it is a constant ball of energy and enjoys running all over, capture an image of it playing with a toy. To successfully shoot your pet in motion, use fast shutter speed (starting from 1/500), and also select continuous mode instead of single-shot, keeping the focus motor active the entire time.

Use Natural Light

When photographing your pets indoors, choose a room that is well-lit with a large window so natural light can flow in. Avoid using flash as it may startle the animal, and also cause red-eye. If a speedlight is absolutely necessary, shoot the images by diffusing the light — point the speedlight up at the ceiling for a more natural and even lighting (do not use built-in flash).

Get Close

One trick to get an amazing shot of your pet is to get to eye level with them (sometimes even on your belly). In this way, you get to see the world your pet sees — a different perspective. To achieve a beautiful close-up portrait with a smooth and blurred background, set your camera aperture to the widest (lowest f-stop number).

Focus on the Eyes

As the saying goes, eyes are the windows to the soul. If the eyes are not in focus, the shot may well be wasted. Adjust your focus point from ‘auto’ to ‘single point’ and then focus point it on the subject’s eyes. This keeps the area on focus sharp and draws your viewers’ attention straight to the eyes.

Surprise Them

Sometimes it can be hard to keep your pet still. Allow it to play quietly for a moment, and when it finally calms down, call out its name. This often gets its attention for a couple of seconds, allowing you to capture a still and perfect moment. Remember to get your camera settings right before doing so!

Be Patient

Patience is a virtue, and it cannot be truer in pet photography. It takes time for your pet to relax in front of you, especially if you’re holding an object (a camera in this case) that is foreign to them. If you are patient enough, your furry buddy will end up relaxing, giving you the perfect opportunity to get a decent photograph.

Keep on practicing and experimenting different angles, compositions and approaches to get the right shots. Most importantly, enjoy the time you spend with your pet!

All images are shot with EOS 70D; EF50mm f/1.4 USM.

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