Some of us love taking pictures; after all, it is a visual documentation of our lives, encapsulated forever in an image. And what is better than a selfie? A selfie with your pet, of course!
Selfies with pets are all the rage these days. But as you probably already know, pet photography has its challenges. Pets get bored and distracted, and a running squirrel is infinitely more interesting to Fido than a camera.
So how do you take the perfect selfie with your pet? Here are some tips to get you started!
1. Have A Play Session First
Your pet is more likely to behave and less prone to zooming around if the photography session follows a good hike or a playful romp.
Pets with tons of energy remain excitable and will have problems sitting still. So exercise your dog with a long hike and cats with a laser toy or feather wand. Tired pets are easier to deal with and less prone to distractions, especially if you are shooting outdoors.
A bonus is that your pup will seem like he’s smiling. Panting dogs look like they have a wide grin on their faces!
2. Nervous Pet?
Maybe your phone camera makes an audible sound, or you’re using a DSLR with a loud shutter. Either way, some pets get nervous when a scary object is introduced, especially when strange sounds are emanating from it.
So if your pet shows signs of stress near the camera, turn all the sounds off and avoid using the flash altogether.
You can de-sensitize your pet to the use of your camera. Start by leaving the camera (or phone) where it is easily accessible. Then, wait for your pet to check out the camera and reward with lots of praise, cuddles and treats. Do this several times, and your pet will learn to see the camera as a source of positive behavior from you.
Next, start taking test shots with the shutter sound on, carefully monitoring your pet for signs of stress. Continue to treat and praise lavishly, and take it slow to ultimately ensure your pet’s comfort with the use of the camera.
Your pet will feel any anxiety you do, so be as patient and calm as you can.
3. Use Natural Lighting
Natural lighting works best for your pet selfie. The best time of the day would be when the sun is low on the horizon. The golden hour works best for outdoor photography. It happens twice a day; the first hour just after sunrise and the last hour before sunset. Contrary to some beliefs, overcast days work too.
Avoid taking photos in the midday sun. The harsh rays cause unflattering shadows, and both you and your pet will be squinting against direct sunlight. Also, avoid using the flash, which may startle your pet and result in a bad experience.
If you’re taking photos indoors, ensure you face the light source and not have your back to it. For example, if you face a window that lets in loads of natural light, it will illuminate the subjects. In comparison, taking a photo with a light source behind you will darken the colors, and subjects turn out less than sharp.
Your pet is probably going to be squirming and fidgeting a bunch. You’d be lucky if Fido sat perfectly still and posed prettily for you!
Turning on auto-focus is a great way to ensure sharp images and reduce blur caused by motion. If you are new to photography, most cameras and phones have sports mode with a high shutter speed to capture fast-moving subjects.
If your phone has portrait mode, use it! The portrait mode applies a depth-of-field effect that keeps subjects sharp while blurring the background beautifully.
5. Bribe Them!
There are numerous ways to get their attention on the camera. Hold treats and favorite toys in the same hand as the camera to get them staring at the camera naturally to capture the cutest look.
Need more hands? Countless pet selfie sticks are on the market to attach toys and treats to the camera to ensure your pet’s undivided attention. For example, the Pooch Selfie easily attaches a ball, while the Selfie Stick It comes with a dog treat tray for his favorite snack.
Experiment with different angles and lenses. From wide-angle to macro lenses, try out different lenses that allow you up-close shots and broader shots that can include more of the surrounding environments.
Keep in mind that pet selfies work best when the camera is on the same level or slightly higher than face level. Your pet loves having its face near yours, as we usually carry them up high or bring our faces close if we are on the ground.
The eyes are the window to the soul, and a pet’s eyes are no different. It is the most beautiful and expressive part of your pet’s face, so aim for those heart-melting eyes.
6. Take A Video Or Use A “Burst”
Instead of a still image, shooting a video will give you several frames to choose from, making it more likely that you’ll find the perfect frame where both of you are looking at the camera.
With the “Burst” mode found on most phone cameras, multiple photos are taken at once, giving you the option of sifting through all the images and selecting the ones you like best.
7. Use Props
Costumes, apparel, and accessories can set aside your photos from others. For example, sunglasses, bandanas, and hairbands are simple items you can use to give your pet a new look.
Baskets and toys will make adorable additions to a pet selfie, so get creative and explore different uses of household items you already have!
Always remember to slowly introduce your pet to any new prop and watch closely for signs of stress or discomfort.
More advanced pet selfie tips that involve complete manual control are available for the experienced shutterbug, but these simple tricks can help you get started. After all, what better way to document your life together with your best friend!