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Brittany Vienot, an Ottawa-based photographer, specializes in snapping photos of dogs (and sometimes cats) and shares the following tips to help you create amazing pet portraits.â€¨â€¨
Secrets to amazing pet photography:
1. Be prepared
Before you even set up your camera, ensure that your dog is in the best possible shape for being photographed. This means that they need to have been exercised to get rid of any nervous energy, and given five to 10 minutes to get used to their environment.
If you don't let them sniff away and get used to their surroundings, it is going to be very hard to get them to relax. Cats do much better when they are being photographed in their home environment.
2. Have help
Shooting solo is very tricky so if you can get someone to help you, there's a much better chance of you getting awesome pictures. Ideally, your helper can get the dog or cat into position and then get them to stay there so that you can concentrate on taking the picture.
Because the best pictures are taken when you get down to the animal's eye-level, this can mean that they will want to come play or say hello when you get down there. Have another person there to distract them from doing that is very useful. The other person can use treats to entice them to stay put. If you're going to have a person be in the shot too, get them in position first, then add the animal to the picture just when you're ready to snap the picture.
3. Have realistic expectations
Once the animal is in position, you then need to get their attention.
Get a dog's attention: With dogs, you need to use sound effects, and because you'll be shooting them for a while, master as many sound effects as you can to get their attention; if you use the same sound effect once or twice, it doesn't interest them any more. Squeaky toys are also useful for getting their attention.
Get a cat's attention: With cats, you'll need to use motion to catch their attention, so you might want to try something like a feather toy held over your camera lens.
You can't get frustrated or expect too much from your pet. Be very calm and don't get too excited -- if you get overly excited, so will they and then it is going to be very hard to get them to cooperate while you shoot.
Be realistic. Be quick. Get your shots before they get fed up of sitting there for you. Recognize that you might not always get the shots you want, and if you do, then you were very lucky. But you might get something else that works out wonderfully anyway.