Today’s photo tip is to help you in shooting better pet photos. Pet portraits can be the most fun you’ve ever had with your camera, you’ll meet a bunch of really nice people and it’s one of the easiest ways I know to go “pro” if that is a goal of yours.
This tip concerns the tongue…
When I was specializing in pet photos, at first I used to work very hard at shooting the dog with its tongue in its mouth!
This is always a good strategy because it gives you an elegant, classic portrait.
But, my customers would look at my photos and frequently I heard comments like, “But he doesn’t look happy!” They could never explain why the dog didn’t look happy, just that it was true.
This stumped me for a long time. The ears were up, the dog looked alert, and I clearly remembered the dog as being very happy that day. The portraits were gorgeous.
Finally, I tried shooting a series of shots with the tongue out – AND I NEVER HEARD THAT COMPLAINT AGAIN!
When the tongue is out, the dog looks happier and more playful. You lose a bit of the elegant look, but gain a lot of personality.
When you are shooting, do some of each. Tongue in for a more classic and elegant pet portrait. Tongue out for a happier more playful, exuberant one.
But, the tongue has to be in front of the mouth; not hanging out the side… no one likes those. It’s amazing how long some of those tongues can be! Whether to the front or the side, you don’t want it hanging halfway to the ground.
How to get the tongue in?
Get a dog’s toy that squeaks. They have them in almost all grocery stores. I like to get the “newspaper” one. They are flat and don’t roll away when it hits the ground. Get ready to shoot and then gently squeak the toy.
The ears will pop up, and the tongue will go in – for about half a second. So, you have that half a second to get your contest winning shot.
Eventually, the dog will get tired of the squeak and it won’t work any more. When that happens, gently flick the squeaker into the air. (Near the lens.) Shoot fast, the dog is going to go for the toy. See why I don’t want it rolling away? I want to get it first!
You will only get a second or two for the shot, but with a bit of practice, that is plenty of time. While I always recommend taking your camera off its automatic settings, with animal photos, auto focus is almost a MUST!
Shooting better pet photos is easily with reach of all of us. Give it a try! Pet portraits are very rewarding and the pet owners will love you forever!
About the Author:
Dan Eitreim writes for ontargetphototraining.com. He has been a professional photographer in Southern California for over 20 years. His philosophy is that learning photography is easy if you know a few tried and true strategies.
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