When the Shutter Clicks
Lights, camera, action! So you’d like professional photos of your crew? Quickly you discover: so many styles, so many price points! Here’s help.
First: brainstorm what you want
• Style — formal or casual?
• Indoors or out?
• Studio or on location?
• With or without human(s)?
• What is your budget?
• Prints? Digital? Both?
Just as you would for your two-legged family portraits, do your research. In an age where digital cameras have made everyone a photographer, look at websites. Look at galleries. Check reviews and recommendations on sites like yelp, nextdoor.com, or Angie's List. Make a list of questions and don’t be afraid to ask them. A true pro will appreciate your due diligence and may even have questions for you.
Tricks of the trade
If you’re going for indoor photos, make sure your photographer is skilled at working with light. This is especially important with black or dark-faced pets. You want to see your pet’s face, eyes, and expressions. A real pro can ensure quality resolution, clarity, and artistry.
Know your fur kids
What is your pet’s temperament? Is she likely to be afraid, nervous, or flighty away from home? Do new situations overexcite her? Is the safety of a flighty pet a concern? If any of these are true, consider a photographer who can come to your home. In addition to ensuring your pet’s safety, he or she is likely to be more relaxed at home, which goes a long way in helping get great shots.
Make sure you’ll get what you pay for, and that your images won't be shared without your permission (especially if they include humans). Like most industries, pet photography has an association, ppa.com. At findaphotographer.com you can search photographers by specialty. Interviewing prospective choices is recommended, as this could be a lasting relationship.
On the day of your shoot, don’t be afraid to wear your dog(s) out a little. A tired dog is more likely to cooperate and focus. Have special treats at the ready. A little reward goes a long way in keeping pets motivated or directing their gaze where you want it.
A spa day can be good prep too. Keep the whites white and the blacks shiny and give everyone a good brush-out.
Pheromones or other calming aids can be helpful for pets who respond well to them. And it doesn’t hurt to practice at home, finding a couple of words or noises that get your critter’s attention. Photographers often have noisemakers, but if you know your cat perks up for the word “Squirrel!” or your dog cocks his head at “Bye-bye!” use them to encourage your favorite expressions.
When you go
Have fun! When you relax, your critters will too. If it’s an option, preview the work on the camera’s digital screen or a separate monitor to be sure you’re getting the look you’re hoping for.