As many of us find ourselves spending more time than usual at home (or our pet’s home, depending on who you ask), we’ve had to get a little creative in order to continue honing our craft while practicing social distancing. The good news? Photographers are natural-born creatives — and our pets, with their adorable features and carefree disposition, are natural-born subjects.
All fun aside, our pets can actually be great practice for mastering a variety of photography techniques — portraits, motion photography and even creating viral content. So, stay home for your sake, your pet’s sake and everyone’s sake and refine a few in-demand photography skills while you’re at it.
Learn to Deal with Difficult Portrait Subjects
If you’ve ever tried to snap a lynx in the wild — or get a tabby cat to hold a pose — you know it’s not exactly an easy feat. Photographing an animal in motion is difficult enough, but setting up and capturing the still shot you want can be seemingly impossible.
Experts often recommend getting to know your client before picking up the camera so that you have some insight into their personality and can establish a rapport. While you may have a slight advantage in that aspect, the reality is that the second we think we’ve got these guys figured out, they go and do something that has us questioning everything.
Fortunately, with the right lighting and camera settings, a handful of treats and some practice, you’ll undoubtedly end up with a number of great pet portraits under your belt — and a track record of successfully capturing one of the most erratic subjects ever.
Master the Art of Motion Photography
Whether you’ve got a rabbit hopping around the backyard or a Jack Russell in a New York City apartment, this moment of pause is a great time to fine-tune those motion photography skills for when you can once again hit the pavement — or the safari trail. Although our furry friends may not actually be wildlife, they are still very much animals in their natural element, which makes photographing them at home not all that different from the great outdoors.
Because animals move fast, getting a great shot can be a challenge. To best capture your pet in motion, SLR Photography Guide recommends setting your camera to Shutter Priority and starting your shutter speed at 1/60th of a second, then going up from there to get just the right amount of blurriness.
Feel free to encourage motion with toys or treats, but be careful not to upset or agitate your four-legged subject, the safety of whom should always be number one.
Photographing your pets head-on may result in an adorable photo, but placing them creatively within the frame will allow you to tell a bigger story.
This can be achieved through the rule of thirds — essentially, dividing up your image into three areas using two vertical and two horizontal lines to create nine equal sections, similar to a tic-tac-toe board. Then, experiment by placing your subject in different areas of the frame (generally avoiding the center “square”) to create depth and balance. For example, if your cat is perched on the windowsill looking out, shooting off-center can provide greater context — i.e., what exactly it is that has Noodles so captivated.
At a time when our pets are truly the greatest sources of entertainment we’ve got, photos and videos of humans and animals navigating the new always-home dynamic seem to be taking over the internet. That being said, going viral online is an artform in itself, and now is a great time to try channeling your photography skills into creating viral content. Find your pet doing something adorably bizarre? Capture and share the joy on social media. Not only might you win the internet, but you could end up massively expanding your following.
Let’s See What You’ve Got
One of the great things about having a pet is that they can offer us a little light during dark times. And for those of us who don’t have pets, we rely on the shenanigans of other people’s pets to help brighten our days. Once you’ve got a few great images of yours that you’re willing to share, consider uploading them to Your Art Gallery to spread the lighthearted cheer.