Photo from Bayrook Photography and available to purchase from Gippsland Country Photography.

If you have a beautiful pet and would like to photograph it to the best of your abilities, this post will give you a few ideas on getting the most out of the shoot…

Everyone who has a pet knows the special bond that animals share with their owners, and this is probably why it is also so fulfilling to shoot portraits of them as well.

Now, shooting good pet portraiture is way easier said than done! Pets have a tendency to be as spontaneous and candid as they possibly can, and you can rarely ever force one to sit and pose for a picture…and even if they do, that probably wouldn’t be the best picture you can get.

Rule number 1 when shooting pet portraiture is to plan ahead. Yes, even with candid images photographers DO tend to plan ahead. It may be something as simple as getting your pet’s favorite toy out to keep it occupied while you try and capture the moments with your camera.

On the exposure side of things, if you are shooting with ambient light it is a good idea to get your aperture and shutter speed ratios set before you begin focusing on the pet.

In other words, your complete attention should be on composing the frame and firing the shutter at the right moment when you are shooting candid; not experimenting with the exposure meter! Some photographers go so far as to even getting the composition planned, and then they wait for the pet to strike just the right pose within that composition.

For example, you could decide to shoot a side lit portrait of your pet by using available light coming in from a window. You could start by taking exposure values from the vicinity of the windowsill, and then check out a rough composition taking into account possible curtains, window panes, vases and anything else that’s around. Next you could ask someone to call out your pet’s name from outside the window and of course you could expect an inquisitive looking pet peering out the window as you shoot off a ‘candid’ portrait!

Timing is EVERYTHING – As you can well imagine from the example stated above, timing is everything when you are shooting candid images. Keeping this in mind, we would like to encourage you to use your camera on the burst mode if it has one.

You can always pick the best from a few dozen frames later, and whatever you may have heard about ‘getting it right in just one frame’, that’s not applicable where candid photography is concerned. If you have a camera whose shutter has a time lag to fire after you press the button, you may want to try preparing the camera by half-pressing the shutter which also activates and fixes the auto focus on most models. And if you have a camera with the ‘continuous focus’ option, it works great when shooting pets who tend to move around unpredictably!

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