Who doesn’t love pets? People love to pamper and spoil their pets, and when it comes to their cute and naughty tantrums, what better than photograph or video record them for future nostalgia.
From candid photos of the cute, furry friend for Instagram or Facebook to the professional portraits for magazines, Pet Photography has become a widespread niche in the realm of photography.
Pet photography is about capturing the adorable moments and habits of pets. It requires more energy and skill than any other photography because pets are unbelievably fast and unpredictable.
They don’t wait for you to photograph them, and sometimes the moment is gone long before you can have a camera in your hand. So it requires a lot of patience and is a test for your photography skills.
Pet Photography as a profession
Some people earn as much as 60.000 USD annually working as freelance pet photographers.
Pet photography can bring you an excellent money stream if you are a photography hobbyist and comfortable around people’s pets.
10 Tips for Pet Photography:
1. Have fun with your pet
Animals are extremely emotional creatures. They can sense discomfort and displeasure within seconds. So the only way to capture a perfect shot of your pet is to have fun with it. Play with your pet, talk to him.
Make him comfortable around you. Recent studies have shown that stroke or heart attack chances are much lower if you have a pet to talk or play with. Playing with pets also releases stress. Relax and have fun with them. They will give you a chance to capture their perfect shot.
2. Follow the rules of lifestyle photography
Lifestyle photography is the genre in which a single image is powerful enough to tell a whole story. It captures people in real-life events showing real emotions doing real actions.
For a pet owner, the moments you will capture for them will be relived and cherish forever. Images shot on lifestyle photography themes will be a candid documentary for them. Besides, real-life images are always more precious than posed or planted ones.
3. Be prepared
Preparing for your shoot beforehand is always a good idea and professional approach, but in pet photography, you have no other option. A pet is like a family member, but the fact is they are nothing like humans. You cannot tell them on-spot how to pose or to cooperate with you. To deliver the best of your skills, be ready before shooting.
Ask the pet owner what he is looking forward to, the shooting location, and the shoot time. It is also better to visit the location a day or two before to see what gears you need.
On the shoot, keep everything ready to use, so you do not miss any moment.
4. Background setting
One of the very first rules of photography is to clear the background of your shoot of unnecessary and unwanted objects. The objects in the background are meant to enhance your images.
If they don’t serve this purpose, either remove them or move to a different location. Uncluttered and clear background makes the images more aesthetically pleasing, and they also vouch for your skills as a photographer.
Also, while cluttering the background, keep in mind that a moderate approach towards things is always better. You don’t always need to clear everything. For example, pet toys, food bowls, it’s cushioning can give a very nice and personalized touch to images.
5. Get friendly
Before shooting, first, make pets comfortable. If a pet develops a sense of familiarity with you, it will respond to you much better during the shoot. As a pet photographer, you must know that pets can get anxious and uncomfortable around new people.
A study shows that many dogs suffer from extreme fear of strangers. Just like that, aggressive behavior can be triggered in cats around unfamiliar people.
The best way to make pets comfortable is open friendliness towards them. Approach them slowly. Pat them, caress them, give them some snacks. It will take a few minutes, but the pet will open up towards you eventually.
6. Shoot when and where pets are comfortable
You get the most perfect and internet-worthy shots of pets when they are in their mood, totally oblivious of the surroundings. You can instruct when photographing people.
But when it comes to pets, their best shots are candid ones. It will be a little difficult to photograph sometimes. For example, you may have to climb to a tree with the help of a stool or a ladder if a cat is sleeping comfortably there. But that little discomfort will be worth it when you get the perfect shot of your favorite pet.
As mentioned prior, animals are nothing like human beings. You can never tell a pet what and how to do it. So it is solely on photography to be flexible, bend, and twist around the pet. The more flexible you are around pets, the higher the probability of getting rare shoots.
Always slowly crouch and lean to come close to the pet without disturbing or scaring him away. Hence a flexible body can prove to be very useful in pet photography.
8. Use Outdoors
Outdoors are always the best option for pet photography, no matter what your shoot’s nature.
Good light is of paramount importance when it comes to pet photography. It is easy to capture an animal’s facial expressions in good light. Never practice this niche in dark areas or studios, or results might turn out very disappointing.
9. Bribes are your best friend
Animals, like humans, are attracted to things they love. Like Parents bribe their child that they’ll buy him his favorite toy if he will finish his homework in time, bribe your pet with his favorite toy or food to distract him into taking photographs.
The nature of bribery will be different for different pets. It can be a small fluffy toy for cats, and it can be a bone or food for dogs. However, love and affection are common to all. Pet photography is all about finding motivations for the pet, so it doesn’t become disinterested and wanders off.
Try to make it fun for the pet, and you will be all set for the shoot.
Also, it would help if you told the pet owner first that you are planning to give the pet something to eat and what that thing is. A better option is asking them directly to provide you with food. Better safe than sorry!
10. Focus on the meaning of images
The most interesting and engaging pet photography is all about context. Show your pet in a particular context, symbolically depicting a meaning or a concept. Focus on their eyes and facial expressions. Don’t shy away from taking pets’ close-ups.
In any particular circumstance, look if the particular situation can have a meaning. For example, a cat running towards a carton of milk in a kitchen shows the pursuit of desire. A dog standing at a door waiting for his owner shows longing.
A cat’s owner wrapping his arms around the cat’s neck shows love and affection. Once you start practicing it in mind, this is your key always to get the best photographs. Images having a deeper meaning appeal more to the viewers on an emotional level.
Equipment for Pet Photography:
You must invest in a good and modern camera <- Affiliate link 🙂 to pursue this niche as a profession.
While you can also photograph pets with a smartphone, it will be easier and better with a camera. It provides the option of using other accessories, which is not possible using a smartphone.
Lenses are essential equipment when it comes to pet photography. They can enhance the quality of your pictures within seconds. It’ll blur the background with its enhanced depth effect, and the subject of your photograph will become more and more prominent and clear.
The lens comes in various shapes and sizes, for example, telephoto, wide-angle, macro lens. Choose a lens compatible with your camera, and you’ll be all set for photography.
Besides, getting a lens for your camera is more like an investment. Lenses are gear that is used in all types of photography.
Pet photography is conducted outdoors, so you must carry a backpack for your comfort.
As a pet photographer, you also need a good backpack to carry a first aid kit, sunscreen, water bottle, food for the pet, and other necessary things that you may need.
Pet photography is a fun yet very challenging niche in the photography business.
The best thing about this niche is that if you want to adopt it as a source of earning, it is approachable and doesn’t require any complex and heavy equipment; you can start it with a simple camera kit.