There’s an old saying out there that says you shouldn’t ever work with either children or animals if you want your job to go smoothly. However, a photographer that’s good at what they do needs to know how to do the impossible and that means laughing in the face of rules like those (sometimes literally).
Animals especially present a real challenge because they can’t just be asked to listen to and follow directions the way a human can. Photographing them in a way that captures their unique spirits and really adds something to a family’s collection of memories calls for creativity, patience, and – of course – a healthy dose of spontaneity.
On Photographing Dogs
Dogs are perhaps the simplest types of pets to photograph, as they’re relatively cooperative. However, they still come alongside plenty of challenges and a photographer definitely needs to know how to seize the moment and be resourceful on the fly. Dogs that are still young, active, and cheeky do really well in environments that allow them to really cut loose, especially if children are also involved in the shot.
For instance, I personally love photographing families with dogs at the beach. Something about the splashing waves and the fresh air really brings out the inner playfulness in both children and dogs. This is even the case when dealing with camera-shy or reluctant teens. Plus, kids and dogs tend to bring out the best in each other in environments like that in a way that looks incredible on film.
Getting the Best Out of Cats on Film
As you can imagine, cats really present a challenge when it comes to capturing them on film, as they’re so independent. Generally speaking, cats need to be photographed on their home turf where they’re most comfortable. It’s certainly possible to capture some really endearing moments that a family will treasure forever… but it takes the lion’s share of patience and possibly also a dash of creativity. What will work also depends a lot on the cat and its unique personality.
Photographing Children With Other Pets
Of course, cats and dogs aren’t the only types of pets that can add something wonderful to a photo shoot and make memories on film. However, the same rules apply. The temperament of the individual animal should be considered. Also, nothing brings out the best in an animal quite like natural interaction with the owner.
For example, horses make wonderful additions to family portraits. They can be photographed looking over fences while the entire family leans in with them in front of a beautiful backdrop. Gorgeous action shots can also be captured by encouraging the owner to ride the horse around a paddock and waiting for that special something to shine through in a way that makes memories.
Many people even want to include animals like trained birds, rats, and even snakes as part of the shoot. They also make incredible additions to a scene that can actually really make the shoot if you know how to play your cards right. It’s really all about being patient and knowing how to spot that special moment when it shows up. I love photographing children and animals, families always look back at the images with fun memories.
Talk soon, Margherita :)
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