Winter. Lockdown. It's cold, dark and we can't go anywhere, meaning we might opt for a cosy evening at home rather than a walk in the park!
Thankfully, some of us are lucky enough to have horses, dogs and other pets that are keeping us company (and sane!) during this time. This is a perfect opportunity to have some fun and improve your skills photographing them, whether you're outdoors or on the sofa. It doesn’t matter if you’re using your phone or a camera - these simple ideas will help you make your photos stand out.
Winter might seem like a bad time for photographing animals, but what could be better than being up for sunrise and sunset every day? The opportunities are always there, so get that camera out, get your smartphone ready and practice your photography!
Here are a few simple tips to improve your animal photography skills:
Get to their level
We usually see our dogs from above - try getting low to the ground, so you are at their eye level. You will get much nicer, natural looking portraits, and will capture their face in more detail. The same goes for smaller ponies, but if you own an 18hh Shire, perhaps stand on a stool!
Ok, so you got on the floor, looked your dog or pony in the eye, now what? Try photographing them from an unusual angle. Maybe stand next to them and photograph the side of their face, as well as what they're looking at. Or stand behind them, click your tongue and be ready for them to look back at you! Don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works.
This one is not always easy, especially with friendly dogs and horses hoping for treats. But try and move away from your subject, to let their surroundings into the frame - it will give your photo more context and add interest. If something partially obstructs the view of your model, embrace it, use your camera’s focus and let it add to the atmosphere of your photo.
Focus on eyes
If the animal's eyes are clearly visible in your photo, they should be in focus. After all eyes are the window to the soul. Eyes will draw the viewer in, and really help capture the animal's character. Added bonus points if you capture a light reflection in the eye!
Think about light
Whether you're walking around your house in the afternoon, or turning out your horse in the morning - always be on the lookout for good light. That doesn't necessarily mean bright sunshine - but an evening glow through the window, or maybe a misty morning with the sun poking out, can really create the magic. Also pay attention to how the light falls onto your chosen subject, it might highlight the textures and colours of their coat.
As you know, animals don't always want to pose for photos (have you ever spent ages trying to get your horse to put its ears forward? *nods head in agreement). So be ready! Have your phone or camera to hand, and try not to miss that cute face they make, or that buck they throw in the field. Patience is key and once the moment arrives, you'll need to be quick!
Let them enjoy it
After all, this is fun, and it should feel that way for everyone involved. So grab those treats, praise a lot, and wait for another time if they're not in the mood. A good model is a happy model!
I hope this helps you next time you’re taking photos of your pet! If you have kids who enjoy taking photos, why not give them a challenge to find a new way of capturing their dog or pony? Or spend some time taking photos together. It’s a great way to bond, and you’ll have fun images to look at in the future. Good luck!