• Always remember that not all pets understand what you want them to do…they won’t just pose for the camera on command, unlike humans.
• Don’t be afraid of photographing pets that aren’t your own. Your attitude will influence theirs.
• You have to make them feel that they’re safe. Limit distractions. Make them comfortable—first with you, then their surroundings.
• If you’re going to shoot at a studio or outdoors, consider their mood. “Taking photographs of uncomfortable pets can be as difficult as shooting a starry night, trust me,” she warns.
• Consider lighting. Che believes “…you do not need special gear for an outdoor photo session. Avoid [using a] flash for [an] outdoor photo session with pets. Use natural light. If you are thinking [of using a] flash, [let me] remind you that it will not only [result in] a red-eyed animal photograph, but [the flash will] also make the pet nervous. If you’re going to set up a photo session indoors or [at a studio], as much as possible, use [a steady or continuous] light.
• Be patient. If you’re having your pet photographed, bring some toys and your pet’s favorite cat/dog treats. If you’re doing the photos, supply some toys or treats. “Good pictures with pets [result from good] timing, and [the] mood of the pet itself.” It’s important to relax a cat or a dog, especially if it’s excited or afraid.
• Pay attention to their eyes and tail. “Remember the rule of thirds; it will be pleasing for a close up shot if you focus on the closest eyeball in your framing composition.”
• Take your time and think of a concept as you enjoy the photo session with your pet. You should consider different angles. Shoot as long as you like so that you can achieve what you have in mind. And most of all, if you’re the photographer and not the pet owner, don’t be afraid of the pet!
This story appeared in Animal Scene’s December 2016 issue.