Family Photo Shoot Time: How to Photograph Kids and Pets

A recent post here at Virtual Photography Studio covered the often delicate issue of organizing and setting a price for photo shoots that involve newborn babies. And since we were on the topic of family photos, we’ve decided to tackle another related subject today: how to photograph kids and pets together. Two of the most difficult to approach subjects in family and wedding photography also often make for some of the most engaging photos in the field. They are also often to be found at weddings and family celebrations since, let’s face it, they’re often the stars of the affair. Now, you may already know how to take endearing pictures of the family pooch, or how to bring out the best in little Timmy’s personality in front of the camera. But what happens when you need to work with both of them at the same time? Here are some of the basic tips you can readily apply in such scenarios, to come up with lovely pictures of the whole family!How to Photograph Kids and Pets

Capture them on the go

What can be more genuine and lovely than a picture of a child frolicking with the family dog, on the freshly mowed lawn? Not many things, if you ask us, which is why it’s always a good idea to capture these subjects as they move about. Avoid asking kids to pose, if you can – you run the risk of coming up with a photo that looks contrived. Instead, follow them at play and capture spontaneous moments. The technique of action shots does require a good dose of practice, but it’s well worth it, after all is said and done.

How to photograph kids and pets? At their level!

The most engaging portraits, irrespective of the species you’re shooting, are taken at eye level. This, of course, means that when you’re photographing kids and pets together, you’ll be spending most of your time on your knees. However, a well-framed shot of a kid holding a kitten, eyes looking directly into the camera, can melt even the iciest of hearts. Of course, don’t take this to mean that you need to make your ‘models’ look into the lens – in fact, you should probably avoid this altogether. Instead, for great effects, try to shoot from the perspective of the animals and kiddos you’re photographing. This will make your work seem natural and candid, it will help you achieve even lighting, and will probably greatly improve the quality of the background, too.

Up, close, and personal

Another rule of thumb on how to photograph kids and pets is to use your viewfinder and/or camera LCD to fill up as much space as you can with your subject. The closer you get, the more personal the shot will look, in the end. Don’t shy away from using the camera’s zoom, either. Remember that your aim is to capture those moments that count and they usually happen when a close bond is formed. They’re not the kind of moments you can notice from a distance, you know? Remember to check out the closest zooming distance whenever you go in for the zoom, then fire away.

Focus!

One of the biggest challenges that even professional photographers are faced with, when photographing more than a single subject, is that of blurry, out-of-focus pictures. It most often happens when you’re using the auto-focus function of the camera (which you never should do, anyway, as a professional photographer). Make sure to lock the focus on your subject, then fire away. With a bit of luck (and a lot of practice) you’ll get clear, focused shots of precisely what you had been aiming for: love.

Make Pet Personalities Steal The Show

If you have a pet, you know they have more personality then some humans. Take away their favorite toy and they pout. Or if you leave without them, they may ignore you for a while upon your return.

If you have a photograph of your pet on your desk, wall or iPhone, why do you like that image? Chances are it shows their personality. They are doing what they love, and look that much cuter doing it.

One of my favorite photographs of my first dog was of him sitting in a pile of socks. He would steal socks every chance he got, and run all over the house, hoping you would chase him. You couldn’t leave socks out anywhere without him grabbing a pair. So when he found a pile of socks fresh from the laundry, he sat in the middle looking like he was in heaven. I couldn’t resist the shot – and its still one of my favorites of him to this day.

That’s the beauty of an amazing portrait. It not only captures your pet, it captures the essence of him as well.

Instead of having your clients bring in their pets, and photographing them on your standard backgrounds, why not learn more about your clients in the process? [Read more...]

7 Ways To Market A Pet Photography Business

Over 60 percent of all households own some type of pet. And in many cases a family pet is exactly that – a part of the family. So with billions of dollars being spent on pets every year, why not take your own piece of the pie?

If you are thinking of opening up a pet photography business, or already have one in place, you are doing it out of love for animals. You have just as much fun working with them as you do their human counterparts. But how do you market to people for this type of business? Take a look at these seven ideas to get your business going in the right direction.

1. Start with a mailer in your local area. Any mailing list company should be able to get you a list of pet owners within your local area, or by zip code surrounding your studio. Mailings are still very effective, and because costs are up and the economy is down, we’re actually receiving less mail than ever. Which means your postcards will stand out more than ever. Start up a mailing list and keep it up.

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2. Look for specialty shops. In my local area, we have a gourmet dog food shop, a shop catering to “pampered pups”, a store offering custom ceramic bowls and storage containers for pet food, and many day care facilities specifically for dogs and cats. Talk with the shop owners about doing a special promotion together.
[Read more...]

How To Photograph Pets

According to a recent pet owner survey, over 62 percent of U.S. households own a pet – equating to 71.4 million homes. And for a great majority of these households, they look at their pet as a part of the family. Which means it’s an ideal source for your photography business.

If you’ve ever photographed small children, you know how difficult it can be working with something that has a mind of its own. In that manner, pets are a similar subject matter. It can be a challenge to keep them still, make them “pose”, and get them into a great position. But the results can be monetarily rewarding. Here are 7 tips to get you started.

1. Develop a trust. Determine where you’ll be photographing: the client’s home, your studio, the park? Meet your client there and plan on spending the first five to ten minutes playing and warming up to the pet. (Okay, you may not have to do this if it’s fish, but definitely with a dog or cat.) Talk with the owner about ways to shorten this process, like introducing a favorite toy or treat. If they trust you, they’ll work with you easier.

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2. Choose your background. Keep your background as clean and uncluttered as possible. If you’re meeting at the park, watch what angle you’re photographing from. Are there cars in the background? Groups of people? Switch your angle to ensure the most pleasing look. Then be prepared for taking a variety of photographs to ensure you get the best angle and poses.
[Read more...]