Sunday, 21 June 2015

PET PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

You might have seen my recent post, introducing you to my newest furry friend - Soba the hedgehog! It's been a fun couple of months getting used to my spiky flatmate and learning how to look after a hedgehog. They are very shy pets, so it's still a bit of a journey in convincing Soba that he is not my next meal, but we're getting there, and he is still one of the most adorable creatures to walk the earth.

Pets at Home also noticed how cute he is, and got in touch to ask me to share some of my pet photography tips. Now, I'm going to state very clearly that I am an absolute photography amateur - so this post isn't meant to be a lecture that I'm not qualified to make! Instead it's just ten super easy tips that I've picked up in my years of pet ownership. And it's an overload of Soba photos! (a Sobaload, if you will).


1. Use natural light
Flash drains everybody out, and it's no different for animals, plus some scaredy pets will be frightened by bright flashes. Try to take your pictures during the day, either outside or next to a big window, where you can take advantage of natural light. 

2. Go down to their level
It makes a big difference to your photos if you lower your camera to your pet's eye level. Hedgehogs are spiky balls from above, but have super fluffy bellies and the tiniest of feet, that you can only see from below. With big pets, don't be afraid to crouch or lie on the floor, and with little pets, just put them on a table or shelf to make your life easier.


3. Adjust your camera settings
Most pets are probably braver than Soba, but to my baby hedgehog, the sound of the camera lens shutting is the most TERRIFYING noise in the world. To stop him freaking out and balling up at every photo, I had to adjust my settings, so the shutter speed was faster, and all camera noises were turned off. Burst mode (where your camera takes a continous set of photos for as long as you hold down the button) is also really good for capturing speedy pets! 

4. Be creative with settings and props 
Mix it up! Give your pet some things to play with or interact with during your photoshoot, and change your backgrounds - take your pet outside or to different spots in your house, or use fabrics to create different backgrounds for small pet photos. 


5. Show their personality
Soba's main love in life is food, and licking anything he can get his paws on, so I love this stupidly cheeky photo of him licking his lips and looking at a mealworm! Think about your pet's personality, or little quirks, and how you can capture that moment. 

6. Make sure they are comfortable
Animals will be happier if they've been exercised, fed, watered, and aren't made to pose for too long. Hedgehogs are naturally nocturnal creatures, so whenever I wake Soba up during the day, he's pretty sleepy and grumpy for the first ten minutes, but after he's been to his litter tray and had a bit of food, he's a lot friendlier and much more keen to explore. If I am waking him up, I don't keep him up for long, and I make sure he's got a sleeping bag nearby to crawl into, if he wants. 


 7. Show interesting details 
Close up shots are really interesting, and easy to do, whether you're using a 'proper' camera or a smartphone. Pick out details that you might miss in a full-body shot (like Soba's massive ears!) and make that the focus of your photo. 

8. Bribe them with treats 
Even the most stubborn pet can be won over by food. Soba will not answer his name or do anything on cue, but he will follow the scent of a mealworm anywhere. Holding up treats as you take photos, is also a good way to get their attention, so they don't wander off.


9. Be patient
Whether you've got a pet that's well-trained, or a pet that's impossible to train (hi hedgehogs!), you've got to be relaxed and very patient. Your pet will pick up your vibe if you're frustrated, and it's not their fault - they don't know what you're doing! It's meant to be fun, so don't stress, and don't take it too seriously.

10. Know when to stop
And with that said, it's always good to stop a little bit early, rather than pushing on and winding you and your pet up. If you've got a perfect picture in mind, but you just can't get the angle, reward your pet for being a good sport, and try again another day.

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