Our social media feeds are teeming with insanely cute photos of our pets. But more often than not, our own attempts at taking photos end up looking like the dog’s dinner.
Yet, taking really good pictures on your smartphone or camera is totally possible. To help you out, we have teamed up with pet photographer Ian McGlasham from Paw Pixels, a group of professional pet photographers from the UK, US and South Africa. With a background in film and television design and as the owner of London’s grumpiest cat Blarney, Ian now spends most of his time capturing the big personalities of our little furry friends. We spoke about pets and pics and here are a few tips:
First things first
Prepare well. More than anything, you will need a lot of patience. Maybe ask as friend to come round and look for locations you want to shoot. Unlike dogs, cats are less likely to relax in an unfamiliar environment, so you’re better off just photographing them where they’re most happy. And make sure you have plenty of treats and favorite toys ready.
See the light
A key ingredient for a good photo is light. Take a little look around you and see where the light comes from. Is it bright or dark? Does it create soft or hard shadows? And how about the contrast? Natural, warm light is a good starting point. Aim for a soft sun in the early morning or late afternoon.
Work out the best setting
Don’t underrate the background of your picture. Always pick a simple setting that allows the focus on your cat. A wall with a nice color, a single-colored rug or a wooden floor will be perfect. And if the background is too cluttered, go for an ultra-close up.
An eye for an eye
Try taking your pictures at your pet’s eye-level. You might have to get on your knees, but you’ll get better close-ups and a nicer detail of their eyes and face from there.
Vary the angle
And while you’re down there, move around a bit to change the camera’s angle. This is much more uncomfortable than it sounds, but lie flat on the floor and try to get a shot from underneath your cat. Or step onto the stairs and try shooting from above.
Carefully compose your picture
Don’t overcomplicate things by trying to stick too rigorously to concepts like the ‘Rule of Thirds’ or the ‘Golden Mean’. Paying too close attention to a strict formula might stifle your spontaneity. Try to zoom into a detail like your cat’s fluffy paws? Be brave and consider creating some foreground using interesting props like another cat, some plants or interesting toys.
Here are a few pictures from the photo-shoot of our winners, Oliver and Nubia
All photography by PawPixels