Capturing pet images is very much like taking portraits of small children. If you don’t get along with small children, it’s not going to be much fun. And like doing kid portraits, you can’t communicate with your subject or expect them to understand that they need to hold that pose or look into the camera.
The next thing to remember is that dogs, cats, and all the rest do not work on schedules. So relax and be patient. Make a new friend. Get out your camera, but spend some time just getting to know your subject. Have their human teach you some of their commands. Click your shutter a few times, see how they react, and get them used to you and your camera.
This isn’t any different than doing portraits for a person. The only difference is that the pets don’t speak a language. You can’t talk to them to get to know them and calm them down, and you have to interact with them in a way they understand.
It’s also important to get to know them so that they will listen to you. What you don’t want is for you and the animal’s people to be shouting commands across each other. Designate one person to give instructions, be it the owner or you. Whatever the plan, everyone should be relaxed and calm. Don’t confuse or yell at the pet.
Like all portraits, the key is in the eyes.Make sure your camera’s spot focusing is locked on the animal’s eyes and keeps it locked in.
Keep the fastest shutter speed possible, because some animals move around a lot. It’s not just the running off. It’s the wagging tails and sudden grins and face movements. Keep your shutter speed 1/250th of a second or faster, and you should be alright.
Professional pet photography is not without its challenges, but it’s one of the most fun and rewarding types of photography. If you love animals, it’s a great way to be around them. Their owners will appreciate your efforts immensely, and the pets will too. Just be sure to bring some treats!