We just had our annual Pet Pictures with Santa Paws here at Buddies (all proceeds donated to the Marshfield Animal Shelter), and at the end of the day one question soared above the rest: "How do you do it?"
First and foremost, know your pet. Where are they comfortable, or who are they most comfortable around? It's not wise to take your pet to an unfamiliar setting, especially if there are distractions or other pets galore. Be smart, if your dog is friendly towards you but not so much with other dogs, know the boundaries and enforce them. If your dog only wants to play with everyone and has endless energy, try going for a walk beforehand. Allow them to see and sniff the camera, as well as know the sounds or flashes it will make.
Take lots of pictures. Do not hesitate, or bother to wait. You may end up with many blurs and funny faces, but there is always a hidden gem to find. Afterwards, it is always fun to have a laugh about the overflow of completely silly pictures which lead up to the perfect moment.
Has your pet hit their mark, but failed to look into the camera? Try using a favorite toy, or grab an assistant to help. Movement is also great for capturing attention. Use your hands, such as holding a hand above your head and rubbing your fingers together. Sound works as well, and having a higher pitch like a squeaky toy, or audibly creating noises yourself, is a definite way to make heads turn.
Technique. Keep in mind what different lightning or backgrounds will make your pet shine best, or whether getting down on their level or a different angle may inspire something unique. Try not to get hung up on the logistics of it all, sometimes natural is best, but if something is not quite right, then mix it up a little. As for equipment, most smart phone cameras are professional quality nowadays, and there are plenty of photo-editing apps out there. We will list some free apps and websites that are great for post-photo operations at the end of this article.
Finally, have patience. We all know there is a reason why pets are so difficult to catch on camera - they are in constant motion. Stubborness is another trait that enjoys sharing itself once the camera comes out. If your pet is having a bad day, remember it is okay to take a break and try again later. Be patient, a good photo will come at the right time, but not if frustration or stress is in the way. Again, if it is not working, then try something different. A new toy, a different person, or setting. Maybe you yourself need to move closer, farther away, or to another angle. Working through struggles can make a picture so much greater. You know your pet best, and photos taken by your hand will surely capture their quirks and characteristics to the finest!
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