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Monthly Archives: May 2017

How to Photographing Your Pet

The first thing you have to understand when photographing your pet is it’s not going to do what you want it to do. So getting a “staged” or “posed” photo is not going to be possible unless you have a trained animal and good luck in finding one of those. The best thing you can hope for when photographing your pet is the best possible situation that is going to come about on its own. Having said that, there are things you can do to help the situation along.

For starters, you’re going to have to get down to your pet’s level in order to photograph it properly. That doesn’t mean you become a blithering idiot and start drinking out of the toilet. We’re referring to the angle of the shot. If you’re photographing a small cat, for example, you’re going to want to bend down to the floor in order to shoot the animal, unless of course it happens to be sitting on your favorite sofa taking a nap. In either case you want the camera to be at eye level with the pet. If it’s possible to get even lower than the subject, then by all means give it a shot. This will make for an even more interesting photo.

The next thing you want to make sure you DON’T do is startle the animal. No sudden movements or noises. These things are most likely going to end up chasing your subject out of the room in a hurry. You want to be quiet and sneak up on the subject slowly. This gives you the best chance of actually having a subject to shoot.

Action photos are great, but very unpredictable when it comes to pets. If you are lucky enough to catch your cat or dog in the act of playing with some object then don’t wait for him to look at you. Fire away. These make for some very interesting photos.

One way to get your pet to perform for you is to get a family member involved, especially if you have a child or somebody in the family who the pet is very attached to. Many cats and dogs will actually perform tricks for certain family members they are comfortable with. If you can orchestrate the situation then by all means do it. These will become some of the more interesting and entertaining photos you are bound to take.

When photographing pets, you’re going to probably have more “throw away” photos than good ones because of the nature of the subject. So make sure you have plenty of extra film. The last thing you want is for your cat to finally do that trick you were waiting six hours for and you’ve run out of film.

These tips are by no means exhaustive, but they will get you a good jump on getting the jump on your subject, before your subject jumps out of the picture.

 

Lighting in Photography

For starters, you need to know the difference between indoor and outdoor lighting. It isn’t just that one is indoors and one is outdoors. Sunlight, which is natural light and lamp light, which is man made light are quite different and will give you a different look to your photos.

If you’re taking photos in sunlight, for one thing, you’re not going to need a flash. Even on an overcast day the light from the sun is still stronger than anything you’re going to be able to hook up in a studio or home, unless you’ve got some serious heavy duty lighting that is sure to set you back a pretty penny. For photos in sunlight, you’re not going to need a flash at all. However, when taking photos in the sunlight you want to make sure that your back is to the sun, otherwise the glare that you’re going to get off the lens is going to destroy your photos. If you’re photographing a moving subject, like a model, this is always within your control. But what do you do if the subject you want to photograph, say a house, is right in the line of fire with the sun directly in back of it? Simple. There are filters that you can buy for your camera that will filter enough of the sun out so that your photos don’t look like one big sun spot. If you can’t afford a filter, or you have a camera that can’t be used with one, another technique that will work just fine is to shoot the object from an angle instead of head on.

What about lighting for indoor photos? Well, this is critical and unfortunately your photos indoors are only going to be as good as the lighting itself. With poor lighting your photos will turn out grainy, even with a high resolution digital camera and the colors will be washed out to the point where your photos almost look like they were taken in black and white.

So how much lighting is enough? It depends on how strong the lighting is and how close to it your subject is. You can get very good photos from a 100 watt simple living room lamp if your subject is standing right under it, sure. But sometimes this isn’t practical. The fact is, your common ordinary house lights, even 150 watt, are not going to be strong enough to get good photos. Professional lighting will be needed. This is going to require you to shell out a few bucks, but it will be worth it. Also, as with photographing a subject outdoors, you want to make sure the light is shining on your subject from either the sides of the subject of from in front of the subject, which would require the lighting to be set up behind the photographer. Never have the lighting set up behind the subject, especially if it is very strong lighting. The glare will turn your photo into an indistinguishable mess.

Of course lighting is much more complicated than this if you want to be a professional photographer, but this should at least give you the basics so that you can take some decent photos without having to get a major education in photography.

 

Photographing People Tips

1. Make it Personal

When photographing people involve sopmething that makes it more personal and about that individual. One of my favourite images shows a little girl in what is to her a very natural environment. Her grandfather breeds and races pigeons and since she could walk she has helped him in the daily tasks of cleaning and feeding them. The photograph shows her with the pigeopn on her lap as she feeds it peanuts. I always look to try and capture images that tell stories and capture a little bit of the true spirit of the person being photographed making it so much more personal.

2. Have Fun

False smiles are hideous and should be banned. Asking someone to smile or say cheese is a last resort. If you want natural smiles and laughs you need to create things for people to smile or laugh about. Personally I much prefer images with people laughing out loud to a posed straightforward Victorian styled portrait.

3. Always be Ready

I always remember a certain portrait session. I had been photographing a family on the beach. The little girl decided she wanted to climb onto a small pier that led out to sea. Luckily I had my camera out and managed to capture a few frames as she crawled along. Had I attempted to set this image up there are a million things that would have got in the way. As luck had it everything went right and a fantastic image was captured.

4. Get in close

Don’t be afraid to get in close and clip the tip of peoples heads out of the frame. Very often it helps the image, giving it a more dramatic approach.

If your camera doesn’t have a zoom facility then move closer physically.

5. Take Photographs Outside

You will get far far better images of young children if you allow them to play. As long as you pick a safe area you can let them run loose and do as they wish leaving you free to concentrate on capturing some magical moments. In my portrait business I take 98% of my images outside. I know this works as I continually receive more and more referral business from happy clients who recognise the joy and happiness in their childs expressions.

6. Catch people unawares

Very often the best images are when people don’t realise they are having their photograph taken. I recently shot a portrait session in London of a young couple. The girl had large ties to a market and wanted some atmospheric images. However her partner wasn’t keen to be photographed in public. I solved the problem by using a long lens and concentrated on capturing some totally natural images as they were walking around the market.

7. Change the angle you are shooting from

I always have a change of clothes with me when I am on a shoot because I tend to end up covered in mud. Don’t be afraid to lay on the ground. You will be rewarded by the images you take.

8. Capture natural reactions

Encourage people to react normally as they would every day. One of the joys of my job is taking images of new mums and their babies. I know if I ask mum to get in close to the baby nine times out of ten I will get a totally natural reaction as the baby and mother react to each other. All that is needed is for me to them judge the right time and capture the image.

I find if you ask people to get closer than they would normally do it will cause them to laugh. However this is not the case with teenagers as they see it as uncool to like brothers / sisters so with this age group differant approaches are needed.

9. Consider your background very carefully

The background is as important as the subject you are photographing. Ensure it is pleasing to the eye without distracting away from the image. Some colours are worth avoiding. Red for example will trigger the eye to look at it immediately and drag attention away from the main subject. People far cleverer than me have attempted to explain why (something to do with it being nature’s danger colour). The best thing to do when lining up your photograph is to avoid red altogether.

10. Practise

You can read a million books and visit every website on the planet but I believe there is no substitute to actually doing something and learning by experience. I personally run training days for people who like yourself just want to have a go at a new style of image making. The people who attend have various skill levels but as I place the emphasis on being as low tech as possible they are of use for everybody from the amateur through to the seasoned professional.

11 Be different

Try and do something out of the ordinary. Use your imagination to create images that stand out. If everyone else does a top ten do a top eleven, it will bring more interest guaranteed because it is out of the ordinary.

I wish you luck on your future image making and hope we can talk at some stage in the future.