Thursday, June 18, 2009

Photographing Pets

There are times when something happens in your life that reminds you why you take pictures. This week I was reminded of this when I lost 2 dogs in a tragic accident. My heart is heavy at their loss, but because of my images of them, I never have to forget.

If I were to put a finger on what makes a good pet photograph, it would be capturing the essence of their personality. Pets do not pose, as a general rule, so it can require a lot of time and patience to get the shot you want. In fact, I have found that the longer you follow them around, the more they will relax and ignore you. You really want them to ignore you. I have spent hours just sitting outdoors, often in the blazing sun, waiting for this moment. With my dogs, I knew the easiest method was to sit on the opposite side of the fence for a while. Eventually, they'd give up on getting my attention. Then I'd pose my camera, get the focus set, and whistle or call their name. Up comes the face I was looking for all along.

This picture is of our dachshund, Ginger. She is the daughter of the 2 pets I 'lost' this week. She loves to sit on the porch in her bed, so I moved around facing her and pretended to photograph flowers.

I'm so cute!

With any animal portrait, you want to be sure to get the eyes in focus. There are a few exceptions to this rule, and more specifically, those would be photos where behavior are involved. I raised and later released this pair of squirrels when Hurricane Charley destroyed their nest in 2004. There are places in it that are out of focus, and the background on the right-hand side has overblown highlights, but because the eyes are in focus, it has become one of my favorite images of them. It really captures their rambunctious personalities.

My Squirrels

The macaw in this next photo, whose name was Howard, was at a local zoo It is another example where I had to wait for the right pose. Notice also that I did not attempt to capture the entire bird, but focused on the face. With birds especially, it can be difficult to get a good portrait if you are trying to include the entire bird.

Howard, Macaw, Gatorland, Orlando, Florida

The most important thing about photographing your pets, is that you never stop. I look back now and am so glad that I took the time. What seemed to be so trivial is so very valuable now.



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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

To read more of my words, visit my Blogger pages.

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.


Tracy Ruckman said...

Suzanne - my heart breaks with the loss of your pets. I'm so sorry. I know how you must be feeling.

And I'm so thankful you did get photos - when I lost Brownie, she was only 11 months old, and I still kick myself for never getting a photo of her. I think the boys have one photo that their grandpa took but the focus was more on the boys than on the dog, but it's the only one ever made.

Now I make photos of Abby all the time. And you're exactly right - you have to wait for the moment. My favorite photo of her (you've seen it on my web site) - I was just sitting on the bench, waiting for hummingbirds, and I guess she got tired of chasing crickets or something. She came and sat on the porch and began surveying the property. When she heard me getting the camera ready she looked over at me - perfect shot.

Oh - and I just read this week the key trick to photographing wildlife - get the eyes.

Excellent article, although horrible circumstances.


Tracy Ruckman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
scw1217 said...

Thanks, Tracy. I will miss them, but I miss all the dogs I've had in some manner. I am grateful for the images I have to remember them by.