Get My Good Side: All American Pet Photo Day is Tomorrow

Judging by the millions of photographs of cats and dogs on the Internet, we really don’t need a special day to bring out cameras to celebrate All American Pet Photo Day on July 11.

These days, your smartphone is your best friend for capturing those fun photographs. So learn how to work your camera’s special photo features. The “snooze-or-you-lose” maxim certainly applies when it comes to photographing pets – especially felines! Cats don’t pose on command. In fact, they rarely respond to their name beyond a mere flick of the tail, and they never take direction from photographers —even professional ones!

However, spontaneity aside, if you are planning to stage a photo session, here are a few photo tips to give your photographs a professional look.

Backgrounds Can Make or Break. It’s often better to take the background to the pet than place your pet in front of a background. In other words, if your pooch or feline has a favorite spot like the top of your couch, place the background cloth or throw you want to use here. You can use either a plain or truly interesting patterned fabric, but keep the area clear of clutter. The idea is to show off your fur kid’s fur color to its best advantage.

Eye Level. It’s a really good idea to get down to the same level that your pet is on­, even if it means lying down on the ground. You can experiment with interesting angles by simply moving around your subject. Stand on a chair and shoot directly down. Lie on your back and shoot upwards. Also consider positioning your pet in different places in the viewfinder, either one- or two-thirds across the screen, will instantly create an interesting composition.

Lights… camera… As any professional photographer will tell you, it’s all about the lighting. Here are some good basic rules to follow:

  • If you are doing indoor shots, try to position your pet so that she is bathed in natural light. However, don’t put her directly in front of a window because you’ll black out her features and create a silhouette. Flash photography can give pets green eyes, the equivalent of red eye in humans. Use the red-eye reduction mode on your camera.
  • If you are heading outdoors, plan a photographic session for early morning or late afternoon to avoid heavy shadows. If the sun is shining, try to keep it behind you.
  • Consider using your flash mode outdoors too to help erase shadows. Fortunately, lighting is an easy fix afterwards with all the latest wizardry built into both smartphone cameras and traditional ones.

Props, Treats and an Assistant. It’s a good idea to work with an assistant to dispense treats and work with props. Cats, for example, will respond to visual stimuli such as a laser beam or a feathered toy on a wand. Even a piece of string will create some lively actions and reactions.

And if you want your dogs to kiss, smear a little peanut butter on their snouts, stand back and capture the action.

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