5 Tips for Pet Portraits

5 Tips for Pet Portraits – taking better photographs of your pets and turning them into artworks

Collaborative feature

As a photographer and proud owner of 2 lovely cats who recently celebrated their birthdays, reaching their teenage years, I thought it would good to share some tips with you on how to take better portraits of your own pets. What better way to record the birthday of your furry friend than to create an original artwork using your own photography skills? Taking a pet portrait can be done on a camera phone, film camera or with a professional camera set up.

There are basic photographic tips that will help you capture your pets at their best and at the same time making the most of your camera and surroundings. Don’t worry what camera you have access too, most modern cameras will take fantastic photographs and you can always use editing software to enhance your images. I have come up with a list of tips that will help you capture the best pet portrait…

1. Happy

Make sure that your pet is happy, relaxed and in no way agitated or stressed. If your pet is more likely to be lying about all day, what better image to capture than them lounging in their favourite spot. If you have a more adventurous and lively pet make sure you capture them at play. Working around the natural rhythms of your pet will be sure to get the most from them and a better overall image. Your pet running through long grass on a sunny day may tell their story best or maybe your pet lying in full a spot of full sun with eyes closed shows off their character.

Happy – Find a place that your pet is happy

2. Lighting

Make sure you consider the lighting that you have on offer to you. The strength, direction and warmth of the lighting will effect the outcome of your image. Very strong summer sunshine will make pale fur reflect the light and you will loose definition, as well as the light adding a warm yellow tone to the image. Cool winter light will allow for more definition in the image, but you will end up with more blue tones in the image that may not be to your liking. The direction of the light is also important to consider and generally light from the side will create a pleasing result. Try to avoid man-made lighting as this will be obvious in the photograph.

3. Props

Our pets will nearly all have a favourite toy, bed, blanket or item that really relate to them, try to include this in the shoot. Firstly this will help your pet have a point of interest to entertain them while you photograph. Secondly the prop can also offer as a really nice contrast in colour and texture to your pet. The story of the photograph will be more personal and individual to your own pet. A plash of purple colour coming from my cats favourite mouse toy contrast really well against her white fur.

Props – Include a toy

4. Background

The things that appear in the back of your photograph can be very off-putting and distracting. Make sure you clear away these items and make your pet the main focus of the photograph. Don;t worry if you can’t clear everything away, you can use the F-Stop or Aperture settings on your camera. In simple terms the lower F-Stop number (F1.4) will create a blurred background. In photography we call this a shallow depth of field, very useful to blur our unsightly backgrounds in your photographs.

Background – Blur the background

5. Take lots and use them

When taking you own pet photography make sure you are a little more trigger happy than usual. Your pet is a moving subject and you wont always get the shot you want straight away. Give yourself time to look through photographs and choose the best one. When you have found a pet portrait that you are happy with, why not head over to vectorpets and turn your pet portrait into an artwork for you to enjoy in your home. Don’t worry if your aren’t happy with your photographs yet, just go back and try again. Your pet model isn’t going anywhere and if they are anything like my cats they will probably found fast asleep exactly where you left them.

What a great way to celebrate the birthday of our pets. Creating a pet portrait of our favourite fury friends and turning that into and artwork that we can enjoy in our homes. So why not dust off you camera, come up with a creative idea and spend some quality time with your pet.

This article has been written in collaboration with a sponsor. All views are my own. All images are copyright of Andy Greenacre.

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