I had the pleasure of meeting up with Anna and her frenchie Pepper form The Cornish Life for their Pet Pawtrait Session at Grebe Beach on the Helford River a few weeks ago. I’ve followed Anna online for a while and was super excited to photograph of her. Pepper is a three year old Frenchie with quite a personality and it was a pleasure photographing them both!
Photographing Your Pet | Tips and Tricks
Take Your Dog on a Walk Beforehand
If you’re the proud owner of a high energy breed, think spaniels, collies, huskies and the like, it may be worth taking your four legged friend on a walk beforehand to burn off some of that excess energy! A well exercised dog is likely to be calm and well behaved, the secret ingredients for beautiful pet portraits! Alternatively why not bring their favourite tennis ball or frisbee with you on your shoot? They’re perfect props and a great way to keep your dog’s attention focussed on you!
Shoot in a Familiar Environment
Chances are your pet has never seen a clunky DSLR camera before, let alone had his or her pawtrait taken! There are so many new sights and smells to explore on shoot. I recommend taking your pet on one of its favourite walks. The familiar environment not only helps you both feel at ease, it’s also one of your special places. Whether it’s your morning walk, the place your pet learnt its name or somewhere else close to your heart, photographing your pet in a familiar environment adds depth to your story and the images you create.
Get Down to Their Level
Eye contact is important in photography, it’s what draws you in to an image. The same goes whether you’re photographing humans or hounds. So it’s a good idea to get down to your pet’s level. Pepper is a small dog, so I spent a lot of time crouched down on the floor. This ensured Pepper was the main subject and also provided an exciting new perspective in the images, a real dog’s eye view of the world! Another way to achieve eye contact when photographing your pet is to sit them up high. I used the rock formations along the Helford River to achieve this, bringing Pepper up to my height.
Bring Plenty of Treats
As any next top model will tell you, you can’t work on an empty stomach! Be sure to bring plenty of high value treats to your Pet Pawtrait Session to ensure your pooch stays engaged and well behaved throughout. Dogs are smart and love to please. They’re more likely to show off their favourite tricks if there’s a tasty reward afterwards! Anna brought gravy bones for Pepper cheese, cold meat or your dog’s favourite kibble are great choices too.
Allow Plenty of Time and Patience
Dogs absorb their owner’s emotions. So if you’re feeling stressed or under pressure, your pet will feel and act similarly. It’s important to allow plenty of time when photographing your pet, after all it’s a happy and relaxing way to spend time with your dog! Planning ahead also helps, if you’ve got a specific image in mind you’ll be more structured and focussed when it comes to photographing your pet. Pinterest or other dog bloggers’ websites are a great tool for finding inspiration!
Let Your Dog be a Dog
My last and most important tip is all about letting your dog be, well a dog! During our Pet Pawtrait Session, there were times where Pepper would pose nicely for the camera and there were times where she had other ideas. Expect your dog to greet new friends or stop and sniff around, after all they are on one of their favourite walks! Striking a balance between photographing your pet and letting them enjoy their time outside is a great idea. You never know what spontaneous action shots may be in lying in wait as a result!
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