As a pet photographer I get asked daily “how on earth do you do that??” and the short answer I give is always “patience.” However, today I’ll give y’all the long answer.
We’ll start with the q&a that isn’t quite as satisfying to get that one out of the way…
How did you manage to get him winking, licking his nose, making that face, etc.
Number one is years of practice and training, number two is fast shutter speed and fast flash. Any photographer will tell you that it takes skill to make good photos, not just good equipment. The gear is necessary in capturing quick frames like the one above of Kingsley licking his chops, but at the end of the day the reason I’m able to consistently get shots like this one is because I’ve been practicing it for 6+ years! Very boring answer I know but I won’t set you up for disappointment by saying it’s super easy and absolutely anyone can do it on their first try.
I can never get my dog to make cute faces in pictures, how do you do it?
The number one most important part of my job as a pet photographer is to be patient with the animal. Being in a photo studio is a super foreign environment for any pet, so I start with giving them the time they need to adjust, sniff, check stuff out, get comfortable, etc. It’s common for pet owners to get a little frustrated with their animals when they’re not cooperating the way they had imagined. The best way for dealing with a dog that won’t sit down or a cat that’s a little freaked out is to just cater to whatever emotional state they’re in. If that dog needs to run around in my yard for a few minutes before he can sit still then I am very happy to let him do that. Once we’ve gotten them to a comfortable state it’s all about enticing them with things that get them excited. Squeaky toys, treats, feathers on sticks, or my personal favorite: goofy noises.
I have a go to lip trill noise that I make at dogs, cats, and even babies that catches them off guard and gives you that super cute ears up head slightly tilted pose that everyone loves so much. When the lip trill fails I’m not afraid to embarrass myself by making all kinds of strange noises until I get a reaction out of the dog!
My dog is super hyper, what can I do to calm him down in order to get a good picture?
I always recommend a good amount of exercise an hour or so before your shoot. Chewing is also one of the main ways dogs release their nervous energy, so if you want to tire the pup out physically and make sure they’re emotionally stable try giving them a bully stick, a bone, or a cow hoof to chow down on beforehand. We’ll have a much easier time getting the poses we want. If you have a really hyper or nervous pet, CBD treats and tinctures work wonders. Holistic Hound is my personal favorite brand. If you’re unsure about CBD use or have specific questions consult your vet or local pet store, they’ll be happy to help!
What about cats? Mine doesn’t obey commands!
That’s totally ok. Honestly 90% of photographing a cat is just hanging out until they feel like walking where you want them to walk. If we’re shooting in my home studio I encourage my clients to bring along their cat’s favorite toys and maybe a worn t shirt of theirs to bring some comfort into a potentially scary environment for their pet. I give cats even more time to wander around my space, sniff stuff, hide if they need to, before I encourage them to come out onto the backdrop. And in my personal experience, when all else fails catnip prevails.
Izzy had never had catnip before this moment and he was absolutely losing his damn mind. His mom thought it was hysterical and is in love with how the photos came out!
How do you handle smaller pets like lizards, hamsters, & snakes?
These guys are honestly some of the easiest to work with. Because they’re so small I can just pick them up and put them where I want them. You also get the opportunity for fun shots of the owners hands interacting with the pets. Photographing a hamster, a bunny, or a lizard, is really the same deal as working with cats and dogs just on a smaller scale. Smaller pet shoots are usually focused on drawing the animals attention with food since they don’t typically respond to my silly noises.
That about covers it for frequently asked questions. If there’s something I missed that you’re curious about drop a comment below and I’ll fill you in! If you’re in the SC midlands or lowcountry and would like to schedule a shoot for your pet click the button below to contact me.
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