5 Tips to Take Better Cell Phone Pics of Your Pets | Massillon, Ohio Pet Photography
Who doesn't love taking photos of their dog or cat when they are doing something unimaginably adorable? My bichon frise, Marley, often sleeps in the oddest positions - sometimes completely upside down with all four legs in the air. I find this hilarious so it stands to reason I have about 5,925,024 photos on my phone of her sleeping upside down!
If you have ever tried to take a photo of your dog with your phone, you may have quickly learned that it's not the easiest of tasks! So in honor of All American Pet Photo Day I thought I'd share a few tips from a seasoned pro on how you can get better photos of your dog at home!
1. Get on their level.
One of the things that can make the most difference with the least amount of effort when taking photos of your pet is to change your angle and get low! Photographing a pet at their eye level invites you into their world, and makes any photo more portrait-like. We usually photograph our dogs from a standing position, and just kneeling down and getting on their plane will make an instant improvement! For small dogs, however, this may mean laying completely on the floor!
2. Use noises to get their attention.
Anyone who has ever had a session with me will know the crazy range of noises that come out of me when photographing pets. This works especially well for dogs! You can make all sorts of noises on your own that can result in getting that perfect head tilt. Typically the higher pitched the better, you may feel silly but really go for it! Pro tip: Quieter noises work better, as dogs will tilt their head to try and hear it better. If you make too many loud noises your dog will definitely start ignoring you! You can make all sorts of noises, small kitten mewls, growling, barking, howling, mooing like a cow, making monkey sounds - whatever you can think of! Don't neglect special phrases like "bye byes", "grandma" or "walk". I am never afraid to make a fool out of myself to get that perfect expression, although sometimes it does garner me some weird looks when I am doing a session out in public!
3. Use toys to get them engaged.
If your dog could care less about the noises, but has a favorite ball that they are obsessed with - use it! You can hold the toy right above your phone to get them looking into the camera. Don't forget to make it fun for your dog! Every couple of frames, they should get a break to play with the toy for a few minutes, and then try to get a few more photos. Toys work especially well for cats, particularly the "fishing rod" type toys. Get your cat into the toy and playing with it, then briskly bring it up to the phone and take a photo, see if you can't get them looking right into the camera!
4. If all else fails, pull out the treats.
I always try to leave using treats until the end of my sessions, as with some dogs you can get that "treat face" expression and it never goes away once they know you have food! With some dogs, however, it is a necessary tool to pull out of the toolbox. Treats work especially well for blind or deaf dogs, as you can place it in front of their nose and then slowly draw it away towards where you want them to look.
5. Put pets on things.
One of the hardest parts of taking photos of our own pets, is that as soon as you get them into position, they trot right back to you. (Which is always a good thing!) Avoid getting frustrated when this happens, the last thing you want to do is teach your dog that when they approach you, you get upset. That is the fastest way to untrain a "come" command! However, you can use the environment to your advantage and place them up on something. A couch, a table, a big boulder outside. Try to avoid anything too high off the ground in case your dog kamikazes his or her way to the ground, but something high enough that it will make them hesitate before jumping down. You still may have to put them back on it 67 times, but in that moment of hesitation you can usually grab a few shots, especially if you utilize Tip #2 to make them pause and figure out what the heck that sound was! If you try this, make sure you have a helper that can spot your pet while they are up on the object, and prevent them from getting injured.
6. Bonus Tip! Use a fast shutter speed.
What the heck is shutter speed you ask? Basically it is one of the three components of exposure in a camera, ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. You really don't need to know anything about those, all you need to know is if your phone camera has an action or sport mode, definitely click that on before taking photos of your pets! Animals move constantly. Even when they are sitting still. Dogs can sniff, lick their chops, look around - all while sitting in the same place. A fast shutter speed will speed up the rate your camera takes a photo, giving you a better chance of freezing motion so you get less blur!
Pet photography isn't an easy feat, but if you use the tips above your pet's photos should improve over time. If you don't feel like tackling all this on your own, get in touch, and I will gladly tackle it for you and create the pet photos of your dreams!