Tuesday, May 19, 2009
First and probably the most important thing, is to get your dog used to the camera. If your pet starts running around when he sees the camera, or stops doing the "cute" thing you wanted to photograph, or is afraid of the camera, then you need to go slow and get him used to it. Make him think the camera is just part of the scenery. (Cloud thinks the camera is an extension of my arm, lol.) Just take a few photos throughout the day, whenever you think about it, and act like it's no big deal. They don't have to be anything spectacular, (you can always delete them.)
If your pet is extremely camera shy, take pictures of something in the same room until they get used to any noise the camera makes. In fact, if you pointedly ignore them, they might feel left out and decide your attention with the camera is a good thing! You can also try to put your camera up to your eye and give your dog a treat. Soon they will start looking forward to the camera. Of course if you plan to photograph your dog often, you might want to try to get him comfortable with the camera without needing treats, lol. Remember - always be patient, keep your sessions short, and don't get discouraged... your dog will pick up on that and dislike the camera even more.
I always act very nonchalant when I pick up the camera. No, "Oh boy, lets take some pictures boy!!!" You don't want to get them all revved up. Oh, and if your dog is clearly not in the mood to sit still, then let him play or run it off and try again later.
So now that you've got your dog used to the camera and not acting like a dork when he sees you with it, there are several things important for a good portrait shot: a calm dog, good lighting (NO flash!), the right perspective, a little patience and LOTS of photos.
1. Calm dog - Clouds best photos are when he's relaxed yet alert, lounging in his favorite chair or hanging out in the yard. I'm always aware enough of him that I can tell when there's a good opportunity for some photos.
Here is Cloud lounging, focused on me. Pretty much waiting to see if I'm going to do something important like leave the room, lol. Not a great photo, but a good example of 'calm but alert.'
I got some great shots of him in the chair that session. In this one, I'm sitting on the floor so that I'm at his eye level, and moving my hand on the floor to get this lovely shot of him looking down. Oh, those ears!
You can get wonderful shots when your dog is distracted by something in the background. They don't always have to be looking at you.
Profile shots are beautiful too, I love them! Here is the photo I used for the painting that's my blog header. To this day, one of my favorite paintings! Looking at this older photo, you can really see how my baby is starting to go gray around the muzzle.
Stay tuned for part two - Lighting, and why you shouldn't use flash!