28 Oct How Shooting Pets Is Different Than Humans
People often assume that shooting dogs is easier than humans – which is true sometimes but there are a few key differences that come up on every single shoot. Literally, every one. People who stop and watch me working with pets are amused. Here are a few things for you to consider before you adventure being dog treats and mud.
- Humans listen – pets don’t really care provided you are giving them food.
- Pets want to know. Know what you are doing, what’s that sound over there, when do I get more treats, ooh look, squirrel!
- I can bring a human to a location, where as often the pets dictate the location. Lots of circles and “let’s do it again, yeah!”
- The scenery is well planned out with pets – you can’t keep dragging them around to various locations as they get tired. Get the shots you draw up, find the location, and shoot away. Humans are more flexible.
- Human owners of pets get frustrated when their dog isn’t cooperating – “oh I don’t know why he is acting this way!?” Really, this is expected. Pets need to relax, settle in, and only listen to me. Often owners are distracting to the pet and I get better shots when they are in the background not giving commands. Kids are different – they LOVE to pose and take direction to get creative shots.
- Small adjustments can be made with a face tilt, a shift in light, an arm position change with humans. With pets, you get what you get and its about taking the shot again and again until it’s what you want. Hopefully your pet cooperates – mine have learned to know the sound of a click is followed with a treat.
- I primarily shoot backlit for that glowing halo and bokeh in the background. This is far more challenging with pets as they don’t have long flowing hair to highlight.
- Getting an expression can be equally as challenging. Sometimes the dog is hot or tired and that’s when the shoot is over unless you want long tongues and panting. I want pretty pictures and have about 30-60 minutes before the pooch is bored. Humans are self conscious and worried about how they look.
- Editing – humans are far more critical and opinionated of their own shots. Something that I think is amazing may highlight an issue they perceive in themselves (a mole, nose position, or clothing choices). Dogs are good to go and obviously have no input on my edits.
- Settings – I shoot 100% manual with humans as I am a control freak and need to get what I want and how I want it. With pets, it’s about first aperture around 2.8 and then getting enough light that I can freeze the action at 1/160th of a second or faster. You can get tack sharp images in humans at 1/60th because they don’t move but I need the extra speed with pets as you don’t know when they will see….SQUIRREL!
- Setup time is quicker with pets but you take the same shot over and over to get the keeper. I might shoot 500 images on a well organized set and keep just one. There is no rapid fire being done, it’s looking at what you have, revising the position and lighting, then doing it again until it’s perfect.
Basically shooting pets requires more patience and determination to get the shot you envision. Humans are far more cooperative and engaging whereas pets are about distractions….fortunately you can make you the shiny object they listen to with the right attitude and food motivation. Happy shooting!