Imagine taking photos of a gentle Siamese cat in a beautifully embellished flea collar! This is a fun bit of entertainment for the photographer, for the dog or cat, and the owners. However, at the same time, it can be a very difficult task!
In this article, we will take you through the basic principles of how to photograph animals wearing special clothing or accessories.
Professional product shots can only be achieved by a photographer who understands how to work with animals
Just like people, each animal has its own character. Therefore, it is easiest to start by photographing your own pet. Knowing its character, behaviour, and facial expressions, it is easier to capture the moments when the shutter button should be pressed. Any observant owner can simulate the conditions under which a cool product shot can be taken. Also, make sure that the animal is not uncomfortable in the accessory it's wearing. Collars should not be too tight or scratchy and blankets should be soft and pleasant smelling.
In the case of unfamiliar pets, just keeping the camera ready is not enough. During the photoshoot – whether it lasts ten minutes or two hours – you need to pet the animal, look closely at its features, understand what it enjoys and where it’s most comfortable. Most importantly, take time to learn how to motivate the animal so that your model will reveal its best features. Isn't this very similar to photographing people? A big difference is that it is much more difficult to explain to a dog or cat why it is necessary to do this or that.
How to get the dog to run in the right direction in a photography studio
Before you start photographing a dog in a photography studio, you need to find out what kind of dog you are dealing with – what state of health it’s in, how obedient it is, and what the owner has in mind. Then you can make a plan of action of how to take the desired shots.
For a well-trained dog, ask it to sit 20 meters away from where you are, then have the owner stand directly behind you and call the dog.
For younger or less well-trained dogs, you need to approach shoots with more care. There should be as few distractions as possible on the set. If there is another person at the photo session who is handling the dog, then they can hold it in place until everything is ready.
Also, you can keep the dog on a leash and have the owner walk or run behind it or on the side for the shots. Then use Photoshop to "remove" the leash from the frame.
For a good product shoot, you need to understand the animal's personality
How can you find a common language with an animal? It's easier than you may think. Both dogs and cat languages are not only sound signals, but also features of facial expressions, movements, and reflexes. Any domestic pet, be it a cat, dog, parrot, or even an unintelligent hamster, is endowed with its own behavioural characteristics. Before you start a professional product shoot, you should google information on the psychology of an animal of that particular breed. It's a good idea to read about what a dog loves to eat and what kind of temperament is inherent in this or that breed. Knowing the basics will make you feel more confident while shooting.
There are many different breeds of dogs and cats; they differ not only in appearance – in size, shape, and colour – but also in character. It is a good practise to find out in advance the peculiarities of the breed's temperament, as well as ask the owner what their particular dog loves, how it plays, what it is afraid of...
For successful photoshoot, it is very important to love dogs, be observant and master the basics of their psychology. Most animals dislike bright flashes as they associate them with thunderstorms. Try giving them a treat when you use the flash so that they learn to associate it with something pleasant. Aspiring animal photographers need to know how to deal with a fearful dog, how to calm an agitated animal, and what to do to prevent the dog from being intimidated by the large lens and bright flash. Food treats or shows of affection work for most fears!
To get a cool product picture, you need to set the angle correctly
This is something that cannot be corrected after the camera button is pressed. Many things can be corrected with the help of Photoshop and other editing software, but not an incorrect angle. It’s vital to choose the right point and angle if you want to get really cool product pictures. It is best to photograph animals at their level rather than from above them. Take the time to sit or crouch down – the resulting pictures will be your reward for this small effort. When photographing small dogs and cats you need to decrease your distance away from them and slightly increase the shooting angle. This helps to emphasize the pet's small size.
Photography in a photography studio
The main advantage of taking pets clothing photos in a photography studio is that there is always an opportunity to prepare the necessary props plus think over the images and technology of the work. If you just take a photo of a dog in a suit, you will just get a portrait of an animal. However, if you prepare a lot of game props in advance, the photos will be vivid and attractive. Sales from an online store with such photos will very quickly skyrocket. The frame will look a little more interesting if you put some thematic objects next to it.
There are 4 main things to consider when taking photos in a photography studio.
Lack of focus
Poor lighting can cause autofocus to malfunction. To return it to working capacity, you need to aim the lens at a sharply distinguished detail, for example, a collar, or contrasting background. This reanimates the autofocus functionality. When shooting a pet in motion, it helps to move the focal point forward a little. Squeeze the shutter button halfway, then after the pet appears in the frame, squeeze it fully. It is necessary to take into account such a feature as deterioration in autofocus performance when shooting with maximum magnification. This is the fault of all cameras with a zoom of 10 times or more.
Narrow your focus
Probably the most challenging part about photographing moving animals is getting the focus right. A good option is to choose one-point focusing (the camera must be in AI servo mode) and the "back button focusing" option. This means that the camera will continuously focus and refocus on that one point for as long as you hold the rear button. If you've never done this before, be sure to give it a try before the shoot. (By the way, this option is useful not only for photographing dogs but in many other cases as well.)
Each photographer decides for himself or herself whether it’s necessary to retouch a photograph. If you shoot in JPEG format, you have lightning-fast reactions, and the shooting technique has been worked out so that you do not make mistakes, then no processing will be required. If this is not the case, it is imperative to retouch the frames.
When starting retouching, there are a few rules to keep in mind. You cannot modify the pet's body – shape, colour, etc. You cannot add or remove details. Do not change the colour and shape of the eyes, hair, ears, or tail. This is especially important when photographing purebred animals. By the way, there are some subtleties here – these are typical features of the breed. It is important that what you find interesting in terms of expressiveness does not contradict the standards or look like a disadvantage of the dog breed.
Pictures taken in the studio, as a rule, do not need retouching. Comfortable conditions allow you to build the right light and adjust the exposure in advance. You should resort to Photoshop only in a few cases such as to give expressiveness to images and remove unnecessary details from the frame. It should be borne in mind that different colors and textures of wool reflect light in different ways. Retouching in this case helps to correct color balance, saturation and contrast.
Professional photography studio in Toronto, where you can order professional pet supplies photos
We invite you to visit our unique photography studio in Toronto. Here, you can order photos or take photos yourself on our unique professional photo machines. For clothing photography for pets we use 3 of them:
- The LIVE machine is ideal for making photographs of pet clothing on the model itself or on a mannequin.
- The Horizontal (Flat Lay) machine is designed to photograph goods such as dog jumpers and blankets on the table. It helps to create a flat product image.
- The Eclipse machine is a good option for photographing small accessories such as leashes, harnesses, and doggy shoes.
Using these machines, you can also take videos and 3D photos.
Call us and we’ll tell you more about all the other services we can provide you with.