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.