Sunday, June 1, 2008

The picture-perfect pet


By Cari Cooney

If you love to take pictures of your pets, or you're an aspiring photographer looking for some good tips, this is the article for you. If you want to capture your pet's attention to snap a great picture, I'll show you just how easy it is. Now you won't have to stress over animals looking the other direction or wandering off from boredom.


Since dogs and cats need separate attention when having their pictures taken, we'll be dealing with felines in the following section. This one is all about the pooch. Dogs are generally pretty easy to photograph. It's easier to teach a dog simple obedience in their younger years than a cat. If you dog knows how to "sit" and "stay," you've got it made!

"Puppies take patience and kittens take cunning."

Once you have your pet placed in the position where you want to picture him, let him get acquainted with the props (if you have any). He will be fascinated with the new toys you've set in front of him, even if they're not meant to be chewed on.

It's popular to take a picture of a new puppy in a laundry basket filled with towels. The puppy may want to root around in the towels for a while, but just be patient and let him explore for a few minutes. Just like the ten thousand other toys you've purchased for him, he'll get bored with it quickly.

Don't expect to have these pictures snapped within 15 minutes. My suggestion is that if you really want to take the time to do a good sitting with your pet, set aside an hour of your time. This will cover his exploring, chewing and possible potty breaks if he's little.

If your pet is ready for the picture, there is one simple trick that will work on 90% of all dogs. Just whistle. You don't need to whistle for long, just one quick, high-pitched whistle. Your dog should look directly at the source of the sound (make sure you're placed where you want him to look) and perk his ears if he can. You need to be on your toes with pets, so once you've whistled at him, be sure to snap the picture fast and, if you're lucky, you'll get a picture like the one in Figure A.


One whistle had this half-asleep pup wide awake. (click for larger image)


If you're a cat owner, you know they just don't really care about anything. With the attention span of an infant (at least on things you care about), getting your cat to hold still and stare at the camera is a tricky task. Working with cats in photography is a delicate situation. Luckily, as a proud owner of two felines, I can help.