Looking to up your instagram game, but struggle with achieving effective pics with your phone? I have compiled a list of tips for you to consider when you next want to take photos of your pet using your phone's camera!
Work that camera, photographer! Move around and experiment! It is so easy to fall into the trap of always photographing your pet from above. And yup, I agree...it is soooo super cute when they are looking straight up at the camera above them with those puppy dog eyes and flopsy ears. I definitely take at least one photo from this angle in every photoshoot. But this is the same perspective that we have of our pets everyday. You know...because to them we are big, lanky, giant food dispensers who tower above them. Sometimes it pays to get creative and mix it up...
One of the best ways to capture the essence of your pet is to get down on their level. Capture them at eye level and from their perspective of the world. That's why if you ever see photos of me in action at a photoshoot, I normally look like a total weirdo in some awkward position, doing some sort of weird squat, or just laid flat on the ground. (I've learnt high-waisted jeans are definitely a must in my job lol). Thankfully these angles are easier to accomplish with our phones, compared to my bulky camera...so you won't have to endanger your dignity every time you commit yourself to a certain angle like I do!
2. Consider Lighting
Having bad lighting ruins a potentially epic photo, and I see it all the time! Yet, it is so easy to work with natural light, and it really separates the good photos from bad. It's as simple as taking a quick sec to identify a natural light source and position yourself and your pet accordingly.
This is especially important to consider when using a phone to take photos because phones aren't as flexible as cameras when it comes to decent exposure compensation, and struggle with low light and shadows. Therefore, avoid having your subject backlit as this will create a silhouette and take details away from the face. Check out the below images of my girl, Evie, to compare lighting. She stayed in the same place, and I moved myself accordingly.
It's so simple - just position your subject so they're facing towards a light source, and ensure there are no harsh shadows being cast over them. When I say light source, I really just mean a window, or a lamp or you know...the sun. This also helps to achieve "catchlights" in your pets eyes (nice light reflections which make the eyes stand out). If you are outside, consider the position of the sun, and once again - avoid any awkward shadows that may be cast across your pet.
And on the topic of lighting, try your absolute hardest to never use the flash on your phone. All it's good for is creating unbalanced colour tones, and ugly bright reflections off their fur.
3. Colours & Backgrounds
Instagram users are trained professionals in the art of scrolling. If your photo doesn't stand out then that's exactly what they're going to do...scroll on past. That's why you need your photos to POP!
Take advantage of any colourful and vibrant backdrops you stumble across on your adventures, as well as backgrounds that contrast with the colour of your pet's fur to make them stand out in the image. Also, pay attention to what you are capturing directly behind your pet - make sure they don't blend into a busy or cluttered background.
4. phone Camera adjustments
1) Autofocus doesn't always get it right. It is super important to remember to tap your subject on your screen before snapping the photo. This ensures that your pet is in focus, while it also appropriately adjusts the exposure of the image. You can definitely do pretty intricate camera adjustments with the latest smartphones, however, ensuring the focus is crisp and exposure is decent is the most important step.
2) Don't zoom! Using the zoom feature in your smartphone, even just a little, decreases the quality of the image hugely. This is because it is not actually zooming in...all it does is crop the image smaller and smaller. So it is always worth avoiding the urge to zoom, and instead just take a step or two forward!
3) Don't overdo the editing. There are so many awesome apps out there which can totally transform your images with endless adjustment sliders, and filters galore. But try not to go crazy with the edits. A little smidgen of added contrast or vibrancy is great, but taking it too far can leave you with a photo that clearly looks over-manipulated to the point of no return. Only apply effects that will enhance the natural beauty of the photo - try to keep your photo as true to the original tones as possible.
6. Keep your pet's attention
Okay, so last but not least...I guess it's also important to make sure your pet totally rocks at modelling for you right?!
Animals are unpredictable, and they obviously don't quite understand why we're constantly sticking our phones and cameras in their faces. They need some encouragement to sit still and look into the lens.
Every pet is different, but in my experience treats, squeakers or toys will always get the job done. Squeaky toys are especially great if you want a lil head tilt! Make sure you reward your dog for sitting and staying too. The better they are at the "stay" the easier your job!
And that's about it! Keep all of these tips in mind the next time you're lining up a shot for Instagram...but at the same time, we do have to remember that in the business of pets, they are so unpredictable and they definitely provide us with many occasions where we gotta just point and snap without a thought, before the moment is gone!
Thanks for reading my first proper blog post (check out the previous little intro one I did if you haven't already!) Keep an eye on the blog for more to come, including more tips, stories, and sneak peaks of my photo sessions! If you want to be notified whenever I do a new blog post, you can subscribe.