It’s no secret that your pampered pet is a part of your family. Like a child, they demand a lot of attention – and let’s face it, they deserve it! They enrich your life and provide a multitude of entertaining stories. But a picture is worth a thousand words and no family album is complete without images of the family pet.
“Attempting to take a picture of your dog is like trying to take a picture of a two-year old,” says Mellon Tytell, professional photographer, “neither is interested in sitting pretty for the camera!” Tytell’s career began as a fashion photographer for clients such as Ralph Lauren, Givenchy and Christian Dior. After adopting her rescue dog, Hunter, her passion switched from skinny blondes in five-inch heels to her dog’s idiosyncratic personality. After Hunter’s passing, Tytell published a book, My Lucky Dog, of photographic essays illustrating Hunter’s last years.
“Regardless of the challenges,” Tytell continues explaining, “the most important thing in photographing the animal edition to your family is capturing its personality and quirky nuances within that photograph.”
There is an old artist saying that goes: You are only as good as your tools. Choosing a camera (or lens) that suits your pet and your lifestyle is the first step in capturing this perfect image.We have found a few ideas and examples to get you started! But don’t take our word for it; go borrow a friend’s equipment and try out your own ideas as well!
According to Missy Desgrosellier, professional photographer in the Portland area, having great equipment helps, but nothing beats capturing the right moment at the right time. “Always have your camera within arms length. You never know when that perfect Kodak moment will happen.”
One thing’ is for sure – you’ll never regret having a lot of photographs of your pet. You will, however, regret not having them. So grab your camera, focus and say “cheese” (or kibble or catnip – whatever makes your pet’s ears perk)!
For more information visit: mellontytell.com.
Do You …
Have an active puppy or kitten?
What you need is a camera with a fast shutter speed and a high ISO (film speed; even digital cameras have this), usually 800 or 400. The combination of fast shutter speed and high ISO will help stop motion. This is perfect for getting a picture of your Labrador catching a Frisbee, your Greyhound running laps, or your kitten rolling in your basket of yarn!
Have a fish?
For a quirky fun image, try using a Fish Eye lens. This lens creates a distorted visual similar to what it would be like looking through a fish bowl. Another fun idea would be to photograph your cat using this lens … it will look as though the fish is looking at the cat through its bowl!
Have a shy pet, such as a cat or rabbit?
Try using a Macro lens. This lens will allow you to get up close and personal without trespassing on your pet’s personal space. Your bashful baby won’t even know you’re photographing him!
Have several pets or a large pet?
You may need a wide angle lens – one that allows you to photograph wide open spaces and will be able to capture all the information in one shot. Another thing to keep in mind is that some of the best photographs are of specific areas of your pet. According to Tytell, some of her favorite personal photographs of her dog, Hunter, were close ups of just his nose and eyes! “It’s so personal getting that close. And the patterns on his nose and in his fur were always so fascinating to me!”
Desire a more fine art print of your pet?
Try a Holga camera. This camera is as simple as it comes with only four settings of focus. There is no shutter speed and no aperture setting. Just a simple point and shoot, but with one difference: It takes medium format film! This means that your print can be enlarged four times the size that a typical 35mm photograph! The types of photos that this camera produces are mood invoking as well with a natural spotlight that occurs with the nature of the camera. Best of all, these can be bought at B&H Photo (bhphoto.com) for as little as $24.99!
Find yourself getting confused by all this
talk of lenses and shutter speeds?
You need a small, easy digital camera. One that can fit in your purse, be set on “Auto” mode and still manage to capture great images! Try the Canon PowerShot. Tytell also mentions that a great way to maximize an image is to use natural light (outside in your yard or by a window) but also turn on your flash. “The combination of natural light with a fill flash will make your photograph pop!”