10 Tips for Improving Your Outdoor Pet Photography

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Are you an aspiring outdoor pet photographer? Capturing the playful pup scampering through a field of wildflowers, or your cuddly cat lounging majestically in the sun can be rewarding in many ways.

With a few simple tips, you can quickly learn how to take your outdoor pet photography to the next level – and with it, you can also experience a newfound creative adventurous activity.

In this blog post, we’ll share 10 great tips for improving your outdoor pet photography skills to make your photos truly stand out from the crowd.

Read on to discover what you can do if you encounter an unexpected occurrence during the photo session.

1.    Prepare Yourself Before the Photo Shoot

The best way to ensure that you get good results is by preparing in the best way possible.

Taking a proper brief from the pet owner will help get to know their needs and can also help ascertain the types of pets they have.

First, you need to know the types of pets you are going to deal with. Are they dogs, cats, or both? This will help you in preparing for the best camera lenses and in choosing the perfect outdoor spot.

Knowing the pet’s personality before the actual day will also help you in deciding other factors of concern. If they have an active dog, then you should prepare to take action stills more than simple portraits.

Proceed to ask if the client’s pets are aggressive or not. If they are aggressive, you can ask them about their handling measures to keep you safe during the photo shoot.

If you don’t feel comfortable taking on a very aggressive dog, then you should inform the client about your reservation and preferences.

Try as much as possible to get everything about the pet that may affect the outlook of the photos.

2.    Scout For Good Outdoor Locations

Finding the perfect outdoor location for your pet photography is an integral part of ensuring that you get the best shots.

If you are just starting as a pet photographer, it is always best to stick to the locations that you already know.

When taking pictures in public places such as parks or gardens, make sure you thoroughly read the guidelines concerning photography in the area.

This will ensure that you comply with rules so that your pet photo shoot doesn’t lead to unnecessary trouble.

As for new locations, try looking for nearby pet-friendly parks, trails, benches, and other scenic spots you can use as a backdrop.

Take your time in researching popular pet photography spots that may be of interest to you.

3.    Check The Weather Condition

Before stepping out with your camera backpack, it is important to check the weather condition of your desired outdoor spot.

The right kind of weather can bring a whole lot of difference to the photos that you take, not to mention the comfort level and convenience during the shoot itself.

For example, if it’s heavily raining, the wet conditions can make it difficult to get the perfect photos. Similarly, if it’s very hot or very cold, the pet may not be comfortable and willing to cooperate with you.

The beauty of nature can often be unpredictable, but with the help of Google Weather Forecast, you can get an accurate picture of what kind of conditions you may be up against.

This online platform allows you to easily plan and adjust your schedule accordingly so that you can create beautiful photographs without any surprises.

4.    Get The Right Gear for The Photo Shoot

Getting the right gear for your photo shoot is just as significant as capturing the photos themselves. You need to make sure you choose the right lenses depending on whether it’s a portrait shot or an action shot.

For example, if you want a wide-angle photo, it’s important to get a lens that can capture a wide background.

Before stepping out, always ensure that your camera has a full battery and that you’ve carried its charger. The last thing you may imagine is running out of power in the middle of a shoot.

Test your camera ahead of time to ensure everything is running smoothly with no pending software updates. Remember to bring extra accessories with you just in case something happens.

You can also carry your phone, iPad, or tablet on set so you can review the photos with your client to see how the photos appear firsthand.

Make sure to pack all your lenses neatly into one waterproof camera backpack. Your lenses could be subjected to rain, so having them all in one place is convenient and safer for you.

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Photo Credit: Kal Visuals

5.    Get Your Clients to Sign an Agreement

Signing an agreement for a pet photo shoot can provide peace of mind for both you and your clients. It’s important to cover all the terms and conditions with the client’s engagements in the contract.

This short-term contract should include details such as:

  • The date and venue of the photo-shoot
  • The photography fees.
  • A down payment if necessary.
  • Travel fees.
  • Booking details.
  • Digital files and prints they can expect to receive.
  • The copyright laws they must abide by.
  • Cancellation terms and refund policies if they need to reschedule.
  • A clause about cooperation or no-show during the shoot.

If a client fails to cooperate or doesn’t show up on the day of the shoot, having this clearly laid out in an agreement can help protect you from huge losses.

The contract should also include a detailed section outlining the rights and responsibilities of both the photographer and the client.

For example, the agreement may specify that the photographer has the right to use some photos for their portfolio or marketing purposes and that the client has the right to approve the final images before they are released.

Clients will always appreciate when their expected duties are explicitly communicated in writing. This makes them feel comfortable and secure before their pet’s photos are taken.

6.    Shoot In Manual Mode

Shooting in manual mode allows you to have complete control over the settings on your camera, which can be particularly useful when shooting outdoors.

In manual mode, you can adjust the shutter speed and aperture to your desired value for the right exposure for your photos. This can be especially advantageous when capturing photos in bright sunlight or other challenging lighting conditions.

Another advantage of using manual mode is that it allows you to capture photos with a shallow depth of field. This means that you can blur the background of your photos to draw attention to your pet, making them the star of the image.

Shooting in manual mode can also help you to avoid common problems like blurry photos or over/underexposed images. By taking control of the settings on your camera, you can ensure that your photos turn out exactly as you want them to.

7.    Grab The Pet’s Attention when shooting photos

There are a few different ways you can grab your pet’s attention when shooting outdoor photos. Here are 3 ideas that will help you proceed with the photo shoot:

  • Use treats or toys: One of the easiest ways to grab your pet’s attention is to use treats or toys as a reward. For example, you can hold a treat or a toy in front of your camera and encourage your pet to look at it. This can help to get them focused and engaged, making it easier to capture good photos.
  • Make tolerable noise. You can do this by simply clapping your hands or using a squeaky toy to draw their attention. This can be particularly useful if your pet is distracted by something else in a busy environment.
  • Use a helper: If you’re having trouble getting your pet’s attention on your own, consider asking someone else to assist you. This can be the client who can help to hold their pet’s attention.

8.    Use Fast Shutter Speed

In outdoor pet photography, using a fast shutter speed is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, it allows you to capture sharp and detailed images of the pet.

When the pet is moving quickly or is energetic, a fast shutter speed will help to freeze the action and prevent motion blur. This will ensure that your photos are clear and accurately capture the movement and energy of the pet.

Fast shutter speeds can also help to cut down the amount of camera shake in your pictures. 

Camera shake can occur when the camera is moved during the exposure, resulting in blurry or distorted images. When using a fast shutter speed, you are able to minimize the effect of camera shake and produce sharper images.

Overall, using a fast shutter speed is an important technique to help you capture great outdoor pet photos.

By freezing the action of your pet and reducing the effects of the camera shake, you can produce sharp, detailed images that accurately capture the energy and movement of your pet.

9.    Post-Process Your Photos

You can post-process your outdoor pet photos using professional tools like Photoshop and Lightroom, to make them look even better.

You can follow the steps below to get this done:

1. Adjust the exposure: One of the most common problems with outdoor photos is that they can be over- or underexposed. Use the exposure adjustment tool in your photo editing software to fix this problem and get the right level of brightness in your photos.

2. Tweak the white balance: This refers to the overall color temperature of the image. If the white balance is off, your photos can look too warm or too cool. Use the white balance adjustment tool in your editing software to fix this problem and make your photos look more natural.

3. Remove any blemishes or distractions: The pet is the star of the show in your outdoor photos, so make sure they look their best. Use the clone stamp or healing brush tool in your editing software to remove any flaws or distractions from your photos.

4. Sharpen the image: Outdoor photos can sometimes look a bit soft or blurred. Make use of the sharpening tool in your editing software to make your photos look crisp and clear.

5.    Add a vignette: A vignette is a darkening of the edges of a photo that can help to draw the viewer’s attention to the center of the image. Use the vignette tool in your editing software to add a subtle vignette to your photos and make them pop.

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Photo credits: Alena Darmel

Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional looking for high-quality results, the possibilities with these pro-level editing tools are genuinely endless.

10.                      Take Your Time

Patience is always the key to getting the best things from our furry companions. If you let your speed take over and try to rush the pet into doing something they’re not comfortable with, this can result in poorly behaved and even fearful pets, and this will ruin the entire shoot.

Instead, take your time when giving instructions and ensure the pet gets each pose or behavior at their own ideal pace.

Showing patience will help keep their energy low during the session and if it takes a few more minutes than expected, be sure to use that extra time by taking as many photos as possible within that window of opportunity.

With calmness and understanding of our furry friends, any outdoor pet photography session can turn out to be an enjoyable adventure.

How To Deal with Unexpected Events During a Photo Shoot

An outdoor pet photo shoot can be a wonderful experience, full of fun and new memories that you’ll surely love. But sometimes distractions and unexpected events can occur and may cause frustration during the photo shoot.

To combat this, it’s important to stay flexible and prepared for anything. Bring along some extra snacks or toys to grab the pet’s attention and help them focus on the task at hand. Additionally, don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t go the way you planned.

Sometimes a unique or imperfect moment is even more special than what you first imagined. By embracing whatever comes up in the moment with an open mind, you’re sure to have a successful outdoor shoot.

To Conclude

Outdoor pet photography can be a fun and exciting way to capture memories of our furry friends. It’s always important to remember that getting the perfect shot takes preparation, time, and patience.

In this article, we’ve outlined 10 tips for improving your outdoor pet photography. Which was your favorite tip? Please share your thoughts with our community.

If you are in Dubai, check out our friends at Fursnpaws for their pet photography packages.

Author Bio: Laura is a passionate animal lover and a pet expert with more than 20 years of experience working with dogs and cats. She runs a pet blog at FursnPaws.com.

Her love for animals motivated her to start her own pet sitting and pet photography business a few years ago and now spends most of her days caring for pets.

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