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Debbie's dog house is in the same location where she started taking photos of her pet pals. Debbie and her husband Steve have been photographing animals for more than 10 years and say it has been the best job they have ever had. In their travels around the U.S., they have met with many breeders and have photographed over 350 dogs.
Today Debbie has a few tips for you to help take better pictures of your pet.
She says, "When I get a new dog, a new puppy or cat, I always take a picture of my dog or cat's head first. It's just a habit I've formed over the years. It also helps give me a preview of what I am going to do for the rest of the picture. When the dog is a big, new puppy, I just put my camera up to my head and take a picture. When the puppy is more comfortable, I can do a better job.
She adds, "Always put a dog's toenls on and clean their feet out well, even if it is a puppy. Sometimes I will bring them in and get rid of a cold and then I'll say, "Oh, you have to clean out your ears. No, no, no, let's do that now." There are all sorts of things that I would like to be in a picture, but you can't do that all the time. When I'm photographing my dogs, I like to use a good softbox for the photo of their head because they don't usually move around very much. It gives the photo more life, too."
Debbie notes that one of the best things you can do to help you photograph your pet is to get some professional lighting in your pet's living area.
If your pet is not a large dog, a collapsible softbox is great for your indoor photos. If you have a large dog or cat, you can also use a white wall and a small softbox off to one side to soften their image.
One of the reasons Debbie uses softboxes is that she can move them around and capture the image.
A flash unit is used to photograph pets, especially if you are doing a portrt of your pet. "I like to use a diffuser to soften the flash," Debbie says.
Pet Photographer Tip
If you have a dog or cat that enjoys coming out in front of the camera for a picture, look for a window with a view. It's wonderful to see your pet's eyes in the photo.
A great example of a window with a view is that of a woman who took pictures of her cat when the cat was in a recliner. The cat looks quite relaxed in the pictures.
If you are doing some photography for your pet, try getting a cat or a dog to sit in the center of a white or light-colored room. As you get a picture taken, have your subject look strght ahead at the camera.
This is a great trick if you have a subject that can be distracted.
"For a pet photographer, your background is important. You have to have a white, light-colored wall or wall space to work from," says Debbie.
If your dog or cat likes to have his picture taken, make sure you have a way to photograph him. If you have an outdoor studio or an indoor studio, have your subject sit in one place. If you have to travel to get your pet's portrt, make sure the subject is familiar with the photographer's equipment.
Another example of a place you can have your pet take photos is the inside of a car. Look for a light-colored interior. In addition, you can put a few photos of the subject around the interior, including some of the windows. The color of the photo will work well for a pet, but it also helps to have some color in the rest of the room, too.
In addition to having a white or light-colored wall to photograph your dog or cat on, the rest of your photo background should be light as well. If you are photographing inside of a car, do not have any big black spots or objects in the background. You may also want to get a light on the subject's side to help out.
If your pet is a puppy or a kitten, remember that they do not always want to stay still. Make sure you are having your pet sit for a few minutes while you take a few more pictures. If your subject starts to wriggle, try using a leash, harness, or other type of restrnt.
You can add your own personality to your portrts by adding some other objects. Many times, this can be done by placing a few items on the floor in front of your subject. You can place some leaves, sticks, or even some toys in front of your subject. You may want to get a little imagination going on with this! The more you have in front of your subject, the more the subject is engaged. A few photographs of toys and other objects in front of a puppy or kitten is also a good idea.
There is no need to go overboard with your props and decorations. Keep things simple! You don't want your puppy or kitten to get distracted from what it is that you are trying to capture. Adding too many things can take away from what you are trying to do. Be as simple as possible and use what you have.
If you are using a pet leash, harness, or other type of restrnt, try to get the leash away from the subject. The subject will see the leash and be distracted by it, especially if they are a puppy or a kitten. This is why we recommend using a leash for your pet to sit for a few minutes while you take a few more pictures. You can also try placing the leash under your subject's feet, keeping them where they are while you take a few photos.
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**Note:** One note on taking a photo of a dog sitting on its hindquarters. You may want to use a leash to keep your dog in place. You do not need to keep the leash tight on the dog. You just want to keep it in the appropriate place. Do not tie a leash to a tree or post, as this will cause the dog to struggle and pull when it does not want to do so. Also, keep in mind that your dog is an animal. Don't expect to easily control it. Try to get the dog to where you want it to be while it is doing what it is doing naturally.
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_This little girl is wearing a red collar. This is a great way to photograph a subject who would be very shy or have issues with being touched. Make sure your subject is well groomed, as grooming helps make the subject look more comfortable. The red coloring helps make the subject look even more natural and casual._
**Shooting in the Grass**
Some backgrounds can be distracting, especially for the novice photographer. To get an even better background, you can take advantage of the grass around your subject.
_If you have a subject that is about to sit in the grass, try to use the grass. Try to get something natural about the background. If you use a more unnatural background, you are going to be distracted by it. In this picture of a male cat, his fur is soft, so a background with a solid color does not help._
**Shooting on a Porch**
People are probably going to be much more at ease when you are photographing a subject on a porch, especially a subject that is petting a puppy or a kitten. Having the subject touch a pet does not make them more comfortable or even