What IS this creature? And why would someone hold it? Regardless, it makes a fine photo, don’t you think? One of the most common things to do with a camera is photograph your pet. And if you don’t have one, shoot someone else’s pet. Pet photography is easy on one hand, yet difficult on the other. Read more to see why.
The alien life form the girl is holding happens to be an Egyptian hairless cat (a breed made popular as “Mr. Bigglesworth,” Austin Powers’ cat). I happened to walk into a pet supply shop last summer (which will forever puzzle historians, as I do not own a pet) and saw this creature slinking around (the cat, that is, not the girl). Amber, an employee, offered to hold the cat so I could get a photo. Always carry your camera—you never know when an opportunity might present itself! We went outside in the sunlight so I could use a slow ISO for a sharper image. The image was captured with a Canon Rebel XT armed with a Canon image stabilized 28 – 135 mm zoom.
- For the most part, animals don’t require model releases.
- We don’t perceive them to have a “good” side, like people do.
- Most pets are cute, and therefore photogenic. Try to catch them doing something cute (like this chihuahua drinking water), and the cuteness factor increases exponentially.
- Unusual pets make for unusual photographs. Imagine my surprise when I saw this cockatoo sitting on the side view mirror of a pickup truck parked in a convenience store parking lot! Pet owners are usually quite proud of their pets and are often flattered when you ask to photograph them. You might possibly offer to email the owner a copy of the photo as a JPEG as a gesture of good will. Many owners like to have photos of their pets.
- Unless you’re photographing a well-trained beast with its human handler by its side, you’re not going to be able to control your subject very much. That’s why you need to know how to use your gear correctly and quickly. Animals move without much warning!
- Some pets may try to eat you. You might need to befriend the animal’s owner before you can get the photo you desire. Still, be careful—don’t poke the bear.
- If you’re after more than a snapshot, creating an artistic composition requires more skill. The image at left depicts a cat with sutures–post-cancer surgery—and its loving owner. When creating a black and white image, it helps to have a subject with varying contrast. This photo would have had nowhere near the impact had the cat been totally black. Dark haired or dark skinned animals are more challenging to photograph; lighting becomes critical for bringing out detail.
All the images you see here were captured with existing light. Flash and studio lighting are topics unto themselves.