Friday, June 8, 2012

Guest Post: How To Photograph Your Pet

I have a special treat for you today! As you may know, one of my most favorite subjects to draw is pets. I recently had the opportunity to draw a cat portrait for a woman in Israel (she won my last pet portrait give away). Her poor Joey has been missing for quite awhile and she thinks of him every day so she sent me an amazing photo of Joey for me to use to draw a portrait from. Elsina is also an artist and has a good eye for that sort of thing. You can check out her blog HERE A great portrait starts with a great photo. Here is the photo that she sent me- the actual portrait that I drew is at the end of the post!

A great example of a photo that
could be used to draw a portrait from.

My blog friend and photographer extraordinaire Terry, is going to give us an idea how to take great photographs of pets, whether you are having a portrait drawn from them or not.

Hello Ispirato Design readers.  I am so thrilled that Michelle asked me to pop over and talk you about taking fabulous photos of your pets.  Normally, I hang out over at These Peas Taste Funny where I chat about crafting, cooking, and taking great pictures. 

When you decide to have a pencil portrait done of your favourite dog, cat or iguana, having an awesome photo becomes absolutely key.  A fabulous photo gives the artist a chance to really capture the essence of your pet and create a lifelong keepsake for you.  A poor photo?  Well that is just asking for disappointment.  

So how do you get that fabulous photo?  Here are nine tips on how to do it right:

1.  Get down and dirty.  
         Okay, you don’t actually have to get dirty, but getting right down to kitty’s level is important.  The back of a cat isn’t at all interesting or cute.  It’s the face you want, so you might even have to lay down to get the best angle.  See how the right photo is so much better.

  1. 2.  The dog, the whole dog, and nothing but the dog.
    1.      You want your pup’s face to fill the entire screen.  When you think you’ve zoomed in close enough, zoom in a little closer. Make sure you aren’t cutting off any ears (or tails if you’re doing a full body shot), but don’t allow any extraneous background to creep in.

      3.  Go natural.
             Natural lighting is definitely the best way to highlight your pet’s beauty.  Flash will make their eyes reflect and will create a harshness in the face and fur.  If you can take your photos outside, that’s awesome.  If not, try for a window full of natural sunlight to get the best photos.

        4.  Sharp as a tack.
             Pay particular attention to your focusing.  Aim for the pet’s eyes and make sure that they are clear.  This is where the soul lives and you want it to be perfect.  

        5.  High Resolution.
               When an artist is trying to get the details of your pet’s face and fur perfect, it’s often helpful to enlarge your photo.  In order for this to be effective, your photo needs to have been taken at a high resolution.  Many cameras refer to this as ‘fine’ (as opposed to normal or basic).

          6.  Shoot.  Shoot.  Shoot.
                 Take a lot of shots.  This isn’t the time to worry about your memory card, just keep snapping.  That doesn’t mean to be careless with focusing or choosing your settings.  It means to get so many photo taken that you are bound to fall in love with at least one.  It’s a strength in numbers approach, so to speak.
            7.  Have a plan.

                 Decide what type of portrait you want.  Do you want something casual, maybe kitty sleeping?  Or do you prefer a more formal, straight-at-the-camera shot of puppy?  A playful romp?  Your pet alone or your pet with an interesting background?  Decide ahead of time and make sure that’s the picture that you get.

              8.  Be patient.
                    This might be the most difficult point, but the most important.  You have to be willing to wait for your pet to get comfortable with the camera (and possibly with you on the floor) and resume its normal routine.  This is when you will be able to get the best, most natural photos.  

                9.  Personality.

                     Don’t be afraid to send in other photos of your beloved pet along with ‘the photo’ you are sending for the actual portrait.  This will give the artist a better idea of your pet’s special personality, as well as giving additional views on how his fur lies and any unique markings.  

                Above all, have fun with it.  If you’re too tense trying to get the perfect shot, your pet will notice your vibes and stress out too.  Keep it light and you’ll end up with a fabulous photo and a fabulous portrait.

                Thanks again, Michelle, for letting me ramble on about two of my favourite things:  photography and four-legged friends.

                Thank you Terry- I will definitely refer all future clients commissioning a portrait to this post! Didn't Terry do a great job? :)
                As promised, here is sweet Joey as an original pencil portrait.



                1. Michelle, you did a fabulous job on Joey. I'm sure a good photo does you a world of good, but you are clearly one talented gal! Thanks for having me over today.

                  1. Thanks Terry- Sorry about lack of traffic- prob not doing you any favors having you guest post after my six week "layoff". Nevertheless, I'm glad to have this published so I can refer potential customers to it. Have a great weekend!

                2. Those are great tips!! I love photographing my animals. :)

                3. Great post--some very good tips! T.

                4. Nice tips Terry! I'll give them a try on my dogs!

                5. Thanks for the tips. I would like to get some better photos of my kitties, but they freak out when I get down to their level. I will have to work on the patience portion of this!

                6. These are all great tips, and that portrait is just beautiful!!

                7. Oh how sweet you blogged about Joey. I have many cats, but this one was so special, a really smart cat too. I miss him so much. You captured him perfect in the drawing and I am so happy with it.
                  Thank you for the photography tips too!!

                8. You can set up your very own DIY pet monitoring system by using any simple, off-the-shelf webcam. Even old, unused ones that you may have lying around will work. Decide on the number of cameras you wish to set-up (usually - one in every room that your pet may walk around in, with a maximum of 4 cameras). Once you're done with this, use a webcam software like GotoCamera that's easily available on the internet. Some of them even offer a basic version of this service for free. By paying a bit more ( usually, not more than $4 a month), you will get a whole bunch of added benefits such as motion detection, email alerts, mobile alerts, etc.