Include Your Pets In Your Studio Photography

Many people say “never work with children or animals”, but since families are often made up of both, portrait photographers regularly work with both at the same time! Including your pets in your family portrait, or having a pet photography session just for them, is becoming more and more common. Our pets all have their own personalities, and a beautiful image to hang on your wall will show that personality for years to come.

If you have never seen modern pet photography before, you could be forgiven for thinking that it is the highly posed shots against an unattractive green background often seen in pedigree animals being shown in animal shows like crufts. However, if you imagine a fresh white background, just as you would have for a studio portrait photography session, and crisply focussed images of your pet exploring the studio or playing with a favourite toy, and you will be imagining something closer to modern reality.

It takes a certain amount of skill and experience to take a quality photograph of an animal, and even more so if there are more than one, so shopping around for an experienced photographer is a necessity. Always make sure you check out their portfolios beforehand to ascertain whether or not they really capture the best side of the animals they have photographed, and also whether or not you actually like their style of photography!

When you are looking through a potential photographer’s portfolio it is well worth making sure that they have plenty of experience with the type of animal you want photographed. They may be brilliant with cats and small dogs, but lack experience with bigger dogs; or they may have no experience with small pets like rabbits or guinea pigs. Animals such as snakes and lizards are relatively uncommon still, so experienced photographers may be hard to come by. However, it may be worth asking if you find someone whose style you like, as a good photographer will be keen to expand their repertoire.

While studio photography may be easier from a containment point of view, lifestyle photography (where the photographer goes to a location chosen by you) can lead to more natural photographs, particularly if your pet is shy. Photographing an animal in a familiar environment can create a treasure memory, although the shots are not usually as dramatic as ones taken in a studio. If you are looking for a family portrait photography session, you should consider including your pet; after all they are an important part of your family at home. Of course, a session just for them is also a way to make sure you can remember them forever.

5 Killer Tips For Photographers Wanting Better Results With Studio Portraits

Studio portrait photography is a really great skill to grasp when expanding a photographer asset base. I remember when I first started out as a photographer almost all portrait photography was done in the studio. It is now quite popular to shoot outside portraits but there is still a place for really crisp high key images and moody studies.

1. Lighting setup. Over the years I have had a selection of different types of lights and they have all had their benefits. However my favourite is the one I am going to mention. I have one really powerful light with a high quality soft box on the front of it. This light will light up a room and go right down to shoot a little baby. I love it. I use this light in the studio with a selection of smaller lights. Some are shot through accessories like a snout, honeycombs or shoot into brollies. Depending on what I am shooting depends on how I use them but I will as a basic set up use the main light 20 degrees off the camera and a smaller fill light 45 degrees off camera on the other side. The smaller light is set at 1-2 stops less than the main light, depending on how much shadow I want on one side of the face.

2. High Key. The most popular family type shooting I do in the studio is a high key look, which is basically shooting onto a white background. I have a shoot through Lastolite background that stands 6 foot tall and use this because it gives a really great clean white finish. The secret to getting this right is to set the light inside the background to 2 stops more than the subject. Any more it will flare. I love to put people on the floor in these high key shoots and we always have an informal time and lots of fun. All the rules from other articles I have written apply when posing.

3. Low Key. This is the opposite of high key and I love to use this type of lighting for couples. It brings in an intimacy and softness that other setups do not achieve. Although it is not absolutely necessary to shoot in the dark it helps, because you can use the modelling lights to see the effect of the lights. Remember light spills and bounces really well so if low key is the choice then you have to be disciplined with directional lights. Harder lights are also better for this type of shots. The same basic lighting setup as in high key though. Just have the fill light at 2-3 stops less than the main light.

4. Black & White. As much as colour is great, I believe black and white works really well in high and low key images. There is something about the contrast that is drawn out of the images when shot in Black and White. If you have never shot Black and White I would encourage you to try and experiment with studio lights and see how the addition of contrast can transform the look and feel of an image.

5. Make it welcoming. I have been into many studios in my time and I have been shocked at the mess and gear lying around, I have also been surprised how cold some studios can be. People love to feel at home when they are being photographed and to have a warm friendly environment will help your subject to relax and respond to the photography session positively.

Studio photography is rewarding artistically because you have complete control of your lighting. It is the place to play and learn how light effects the way things look. I enjoy shooting in the studio, I would encourage you to get some lights and have a go, it really is not that expensive these days if you buy second hand gear. I have never brought a new light because the good brands go on forever. Happy days!