With a Pet, Try for Candid Shots (Day 23 of 31)
Pet portraits are so tricky, especially when the pets are young and energetic (i.e., at probably their cutest stage), that I’ve found it helpful to try to get good candid shots rather than convince a pet to sit still and pose.
This has been especially true with my family’s cat, who is, of course, obstinate and full of very definite ideas of her own. Cats aren’t amenable to persuasion. They don’t care if you want them to sit charmingly in a certain place. Far better, it seems, to go about your daily business with the thought in the back of your mind, I want to remember to get a nice photo of her when I have a chance. It may take a couple of weeks, but eventually things will coalesce: lighting, angle, pose, expression, and your readiness. (If you’re doing it for some sort of project with a definite timeframe—say, making calendars for family members’ gifts—make sure you start early!)
Dogs are more inclined to try to please you, but they’re no more able to understand just what you want. If they could interpret your instructions (“Bailey, don’t move your tail! Stay right there! Look a little bit to your left!”), they’d be glad to comply. Here again, my experience has been that a happier outcome tends to arise from putting myself in the path of the serendipitous good shot than from having a certain setup in mind ahead of time—even when I’m photographing an eager-to-please pet.
When the light is good and your pet is in a suitable mood, be ready. You may have to take a lot of photos over time to get a few that seem to capture something of your beloved animal’s essence and personality, but that’s okay. Stick with it, and eventually you’ll have a photo that speaks to you at some extraordinary level. Yes, you’ll think, that’s exactly what I wanted to show.
(For the month of October 2017, I’m participating in the 31 Days bloggers’ challenge. You can find out about it here, and check out the interesting work other bloggers are posting.)