Many pet photographers live for the rewarding experience of crafting successful portraits of their clients’ pets. With rewarding experiences come the challenges and pressure of satisfying the owners of the pets. When taking pictures of a single pet, photographers use many tips and tricks to have them turn out just right. However, when taking pictures of multiple pets, either of the same type or of different types, pet photographers find themselves adjusting their methods or adopting different techniques to capture the best images. Here are five techniques you can use when taking pictures of multiple pets.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Before the day of the session, talk with the owner about the ideal time for you to arrive. Schedule the session around the pets’ schedule to where you are working with them when they are not ready for nap time or for full-on play. Ask the owner to take the animals on a walk about thirty minutes before you arrive to prevent them from being too energetic.
RELAX AND LET THEM GO
Sometimes the best, captivating images come from allowing the dogs to run free and play together. These can be taken either in a fenced-in yard or in the home. Capturing the dogs in their fun-loving element by taking multiple shots, on their level, will reveal photos that will surely make the client smile with satisfaction. These images will truly show the spirit of the dogs in their natural interactions with one another. Relaxing and letting the dogs be more free will allow you to take a bit of a breather before you begin taking the images in a more structured setting with set poses. The reason these photographs should be taken at the beginning of the session is because if you have delicious treats in your hand, or if they think you do, then they may not romp and play; they may not leave your side! Plus, they tend to burn energy when they are allowed to be free for a bit.
USE THE FLASH WISELY
In order to catch the best images, take them during the daylight hours and depend on the natural light to achieve the ideal lighting for each photo. Steer clear of using the flash on your camera, as the flash will startle the pets and may lead to them not being cooperative for future photos. Even if your pets are not bothered by the flash, your hard work may result in photos that have bright red eyes or laser beam eyes from the reflection of the uber-bright light from the retinas. Natural sunlight, whether when taking photos outside or allowed to come in through the windows is the best for any pet photography, as it brings out the vividness and clarity of the dogs’ colorings and fur. If there is a lacking of natural sunlight, you will need to use the flash. If so, use the “off-camera” flash or aim the light upward to avoid the dog’s face (and eyes!). Try placing a piece of wax paper in front of the flash in order to lessen the brightness. This may take a few tries, but it is quite effective!
Dogs love treats, no matter the reason. In order to achieve premier photos where multiple dogs are sitting still and seemingly looking at the camera (when in fact they are looking at the treat!), get the yummies ready! To achieve even better and longer seconds of them sitting still, get creative with the treats you choose to give. If the dogs are used to getting the usual boxed-brand tasties, let them take a sniff of small bits of steak or chicken, or if you want something less expensive try pieces raw carrot or string cheese. You will find that having a small piece of steak between your fingers will garner the perfect sitting-still shot, complete with eye contact at the camera. Also, after each shot or series of quick shots, don’t forget to praise the pooches and hand over the treats.
GET THE "PARENTS" INVOLVED
With multiple-pet photography, you must be able to take advantage of every second that a shot is available. The client may be able to help you create the second needed for you to acquire the posed shots by interacting with the pets and quickly stepping out of the frame for you to snap the photo. The owner may be able to calm the animals down by petting them very gently and repeatedly, and then taking one step out of your frame for you to take the picture. When photographing the dog’s individually, have the owner hold one for a little while so you can capture images of the other one.
Taking pictures of multiple pets can be tricky, but with practice can be done almost effortlessly. The key is feeling comfortable around the pets and really knowing them before you begin so they will feel comfortable around you. With these tips and practice you will be a pro at capturing the best shots that will provide comfort and memories for all the years to come.