Photographing Animals and Pets
I know that photographing moving objects is pretty hard as I discussed in my previous article, but photographing moving animals can be even harder. While studio shoots of well behaved dogs with their trainers can be just as easy as photographing a portrait with a person, the truth is that most animals will pose quite a challenge to photograph.
When you are in the wild, it gets even harder. Not only do you have to deal with poor lighting, things getting in the way of your view, and constantly being exposed to the elements, you would also have to find your subjects.
Animals in the wild are extremely shy, and it is extremely difficult to catch a glimpse of them in their natural habitat. Anyway, here are some of my tips on how to photograph animals.
Take Lots of Photos
This is a no brainer. Since animals can be difficult to catch, it is best that you take as many photos as you can and simply choose your favourites among them.
In every few hundred photos or so, there is bound to be a good one here and there.
If you follow animal photography websites, you will often hear a variation of two stories: Some photographers got their perfect shot by simply chancing upon the animal, and the other half had to stake out for days and even weeks to get that perfect shot.
Chances are, you would be one of those who have to stake out to get their shot, so make the most of your time.
Capture the Personality of the Animal
This is especially adorable in pets. Ask the owner about how their pet spends the day to get a little bit more information about the personality of the animal.
For example, a lazy cat is best photographed while lounging about in the sunlight, while an energetic cat is best portrayed chasing after one of its toys. Be creative and try to capture the personality of the animal in your shots to get the full essence of your subject.
Shoot Within Context
A good photographer is an ethical photographer. You should always minimize the stress your subject feels.
It is always better to shoot at the animal's home turf, where they would feel more comfortable and at ease. For example, dogs are quite used to people and will photograph just fine in practically any location, however, wilder animals, such as deer or rabbits, will require you to go to where they live in order to get the photos you need.
Avoid Using Flash
Again, in an effort to avoid stressing out the animal, it is best that you limit your use of flash. This means that you need to be a bit more technical and make sure that your camera's settings match the lighting of the area where you are shooting.
Flash photography disturbs animals, and may even spook them. There is a reason why most zoos make flash photography illegal within the premises.