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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Pet Portrait Photography - Tips for Your Own Masterpiece

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For some pets, a good photograph representing their best qualities comes naturally, while for others it can be frustratingly elusive. Many people choose to have professional photos taken, and although this can lead to a wonderful portrait, with a little preparation and plenty of patience you may be able to achieve similar results yourself. After all...your four-legged companion is a member of your family, and who else knows their unique traits and idiosyncrasies better?

Here are a few simple yet effective suggestions which I've found can offer good results...

The most important factor in pet photography is lighting. Often the best possible light is achieved outside in natural daylight, so try experimenting with this even if your pet is an indoor only pet. Remember to avoid direct sunlight, as this can alter natural colouring - a bright but overcast day is perfect. Don't use a flash, as this can cause red-eye and distort true colouring & shading. An exception to the above, however, is if your pet has a black coat, in which case a flash or strong sunlight can actually bring out shading and texture which may be lost in photos taken under other lighting conditions.

Next to consider is pose and positioning. Keep in mind it is most effective to take the photos on their level, rather than having your pet looking up at you which can distort natural form. Don't make them come to you. Instead, go to where they are most comfortable. Sit on the grass, lie on the floor, whatever it takes. Capture their most characteristic expression & pose. If they are generally happy, try to catch them doing their version of a smile.

Understandably, many pets have no patience for 'photo shoots' and find it hard to sit still. If your pet is having trouble focusing, a good idea is to have favourite treats or toys at the ready. Hold them up near the camera to catch - and hopefully hold - interest in the right direction. Most importantly, don't be afraid to be silly. Try making funny and unusual noises or movements to get their attention. Cameras can be distracting for some animals, so if you cannot get your pet to behave normally, try having someone else present to divert their attention.

Above all else, remember to have fun and don't be in a rush. Patience is most definitely a virtue when it comes to taking a spectacular pet photograph. Good luck!

Sarah Theophilus is a successful pet portrait artist who's work is featured online at Pets in Pastel - http://www.petsinpastel.com/. Take a moment to browse her original works, art cards, prints, free e-cards, wallpapers and more.

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