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How to Photograph Pets with a Digital Camera

Learn how to photograph pets from commercial photographer Dan Bracaglia in this digital photography lesson from Howcast.


Next to food photography, I'd say one of the most popular forms of photography out there is pet photography. Everybody loves their pets. We have a very close bond to them, and just like shooting a human, you want to bring out the natural glow of your pet. A really good way to do this, is to do it with natural light. Flashes have a tendency to scare dogs and cats, and kind of freeze them up. And just like human beings get red eye, animals tend to get what's known as green eye, which is just a green haze in the eye that kind of makes them look like they're a zombie vampire pet, which obviously is not what you're going for. I also think that a really great way to get good pet photos is to move in really close, and make it really intimate. Now this isn't a great example, because I haven't done a lot of pet photography. But this is my dog, Cooper, who's pretty much the coolest dog in the entire world. I was just kind of hanging out with him on the couch, laying there, and I just kind of snuck the camera up. He's very skittish, he doesn't like cameras. I was able to pop off this (?) and get a very cute photo of him. Again, natural light is a really great way to light your pets; a window light, light just from a lamp, anything that's not going to surprise them or make them skittish. Try using dog treats, cat treats, whatever, just to try to bribe them to get them a little bit closer. But look for the candid as well. Shooting with a telephoto lens outside as your dog is running around in the snow or whatnot is a really great way to shoot. Just like you would shoot wildlife from afar, you can do the same thing with pet photography. I personally like to get really close and intimate, but that's also a really good way to do it, too. And if you're really good, you can mix in your pet photography with family photography, children photography, friends. There's nothing better than a cute dog next to a loving family. So, just some basics of good pet photography.

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