Apr 11 2010

How to Take Good Photos of People and Pets

Published by at 11:08 pm under General

People and pets are the trickiest subjects to photograph yet these pictures often get the most attention. No matter what your skill level, you can always learn something new that can improve your photography when it comes to taking photos of pets and people. We hope this article provides tips that help you better photograph the personalities of the people and pets in your life!

Taking Better People Pictures

The best pictures of people always reflect their personality and character. While a picture may capture the person in the moment, sometimes the picture doesn’t accurately reflect the person’s usual expressions or appearance. The best way to solve this problem is to spend some time talking with your subjects and get them comfortable with the camera. When you see that smile or look that has their name written all over it, start clicking.

A few technical tips:

  • Keep in mind that Portrait mode tends to distort, making the subject look wider or younger. Depending on the age of the subject, the latter might be appreciated, but normally you would avoid this distortion by zooming. Stand close enough so the subject fills the camera’s viewfinder and then take one step backwards, zoom again to fill the frame and shoot your picture.
  • Use natural light when possible. If using indoor lighting, opt for lamps with full spectrum bulbs. Low ceiling light usually creates pretty bad shadows.
  • If you’re taking pictures that you think you may want to keep, always shoot in high resolution so the images will be in high enough quality for printing and framing.

How to Take Great Pet Pictures

The first rule of thumb for taking pet pictures is: Set your camera to Sports mode or a high shutter speed!

If your camera has a “Burst” mode this can help because it lets you shoot a lot of pictures rapidly so you’ll be more likely to get a good shot.

Sometimes you may want to catch an action photo and show movement, so instead of using a higher shutter speed to freeze the action, you may want to blur it. In this situation, you should use the “portrait” mode to get a slower shutter speed.

As with people, and even more so with pets, natural light is best, not just because the photos will come out better, but because flash can upset animals. If you must use flash, protect your pets’ eyes from injury by referring to your camera’s safe distance recommendations (usually four or more feet).

Depending upon the color of your pet’s fur coat, you’ll want to use different lighting for best results. For a light colored coat, you want a bright overcast sky and for a dark brown or black coat, you want to have direct sunlight to bring out the rich colors. If photographing in bright sunlight, use the same times of day you would with people, when the sun is lower rather than higher in the sky. And for framing pictures of your pets, go with a type of frame that complements the color of your pet’s fur like brown picture frames or for a more decorative look go with a pet specific frame like a dog picture frame or cat picture frame.

To get really good candid shots of your pet, plan your photo shoot for when you have lots of time to follow your pet around, camera ready. If you use a zoom, this will allow you to get great pet pictures without distracting your pet by being so close to them. So if possible, always keep your distance and use an optical zoom for best results.

Finally as with people, focus on the eyes. Try to get “eye level” with your pet which often means getting on the floor to capture that perfect photo.

By using these tips for how to take better people and pet pictures you’ll have what you need to capture some fantastic photos. Have fun shooting and don’t forget to frame your favorite photos!

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