We are headed into a new year, and that means it’s time to begin making the plans that we hope will become memories. For many of us, those memories would be less meaningful if we didn’t experience them with our closest furry friends.
Let’s face it, in today’s culture of social media and easy sharing, taking a good photo is an important part of the biggest moments in our life. However, for anyone who has tried to capture the perfect memory in the perfect moment with the perfect picture, your pet can make that task a little more difficult than we’d sometimes like.
So, while we can’t help you plan for every adventure or holiday, we thought we might be able to offer you some tips and tricks to help capture better photos with your pet when the moments count.
Know Your Location
The best visual artists do everything they can to eliminate surprises when it’s time to shoot. They do research, scout locations, and watch the weather.
When an animal is your constant companion, that planning becomes even more important. Make sure that you research the best locations when you’re traveling, keep in mind the people, other animals, or distractions that might be present at a holiday or social gathering, and do your best to know when it might be the best time to snag a photo.
A little bit of planning goes a long way.
Use the Light
If you’re inside, you can’t replace a bunch of fluorescent lights. If you’re outside, you can’t control the cloud cover. What you can do is apply basic lighting principles to ensure that you get the best possible photo possible no matter what you’re faced with.
The first thing you want to remember is that in almost every situation, you want to keep the light in front of you, whether that light is the sun or your grandmother’s table lamp. Keeping the light in front of you will accentuate the details and important features in the photo, and any bright spots can almost always be corrected by using even a basic photo editing app.
The only time you might want to take a photo with the light behind you is if you are trying to create a specific effect where you and your pet seem to be shadows against a glorious backdrop like a sunset.
Embrace the Candid Photo
A lot of the photographers that we spoke to about taking good photos with animals talked about the rookie mistake of trying to get an animal to act like a human, specifically the obsession we have with photos where everyone, including our pets, are looking directly at the camera.
Candid photos are photos that are naturally captured in the moment, and when it comes to taking photos with our pets, candid photos are often better at capturing the relationship between you and your pet as well as your pet’s unique personality.
To capture those moments, when it’s time to take a picture, say your pet’s name, scratch behind their ears. or whatever else you might naturally do if you were sharing this moment with them without a camera.
You might be surprised with what you capture.
Get On the Same Level
One of the biggest challenges to taking a good photo with a pet is the difference in size between you.
For small to medium size dogs, it’s often best to kneel down or even sit if the situation calls for it. For small dogs and cats, it might be worthwhile to pick them up and bring them up to your level so that the camera can focus on you both without having to have a wider focus.
Many cameras, even the cameras on our phones, have a portrait mode that blurs out the background and can capture particularly intimate moments between you, but in order to do that, you’ll need to be close together.
And in situations where you and your pet are part of a larger landscape or photo, placing you and your pet at the same level will indicate to any viewer that you belong together as a part of a greater composition.
Train for the Perfect Photo
If you want your pet to display a particular behavior when it counts, you train them for that success. The same is true for taking photos.
If you want to take great photos with your pet on a big trip across the country, or during a particularly important event, you should begin taking similar photos months in advance.
Commands like “Watch”, “Look”, or even “Picture” can cue your pet that it’s time to take a photo as well as teaching him what the desired behaviors are in those moments.
As always, when training, use treats and positive reinforcement to make learning to be a photogenic pal something that is fun and builds a stronger bond between you.
Make the Most of Each Memory
Perhaps the best advice we can offer you here is to also remember that the best way to ruin an otherwise happy memory is to lose sight of what is important.
Maybe you’ll capture the photo you always dreamed of, or maybe your pup will get distracted at the last second and leap into the air at absolutely nothing. No matter what happens, that’s a moment you shared together. And if you can learn to laugh at that and even embrace it, those moments are the ones you’ll remember forever.