Feeling proud today. I am not a competitive person. I would rather compare myself to what I was yesterday than other people, so it is unusual for me to decide to enter a contest. But, I recently entered a contest. This contest is designed to help photographers understand the quality of their own work and spur them to bigger, better and more creative photographs. It is a portrait contest called the Portrait Masters Image Awards. This is an international portrait competition and is judged by very well respected portrait photographers from around the world. I was beyond excited and humbled to be awarded a bronze merit along with points toward accreditation. Below is the photo I won for. I’m looking forward to getting to create beautiful photos for a very long time!
You have made your appointment to have photos taken of your fur baby and you are getting ready for the day. What now? This post is all about getting ready for your session.
The most important thing you can do to help make the photography session successful is educate your photographer. I send out a questionnaire to each client when we book your appointment. Every animal is different and the more I know about your pet’s temperament and likes and dislikes, the easier it will be for everybody. Imagine having a shy pet that hates loud noises and here I come with a squeaky toy and flashing lights! I only get a short time with your pet to make them comfortable and get beautiful memories for you. It is so much easier when I know what will help your fur baby comfortable.
I use food as a bribe A LOT. An animal that has just eaten a big meal will be less likely to work to get a treat than one who is a little hungry. At the same time, a starving animal will be so focused on getting the food; I won’t be able to keep their attention. So try for a sweet spot between fed but (as my British parents say) peckish (it means you could eat a snack). A meal a couple of hours before our appointment would probably work well. Also, if your animal has allergies or food restrictions, let me know or possibly have treats that your pet can have available at our shoot.
Energy is a bit of an enemy in getting an animal to pose. If you have a high energy pet, it helps to tire them out a bit before the session. Take your dog for a walk, throw a ball for him to retrieve, play with your cat just before our appointment. There will be plenty of excitement during the session. A tired animal is a well behaved animal.
Grooming. Wedding and portrait photographers often warn their clients not to get a new haircut or make drastic changes right before their photos. With animals it is less of an issue, but keep in mind how you think your pet looks cutest. If you like your dog when her hair has grown out a bit put off getting her groomed until after our session. My Maltese eats with his whole face and always has food under his chin. I take his picture the day he has come home from the groomer since it is the only time I can catch him clean. So the rule with grooming is: think about how your pet looks best and do that. If you have a pet with lots of hair, a good brushing before the appointment will be in order.
Hopefully, I have answered most of your questions, but please ask anything else you need to know in the comments below.
Since it is Valentine’s Day I wanted to talk about how you know your pet loves you. There are tons of studies that have been done showing that our pet’s serotonin levels rise when they look at us or how they sense disease or danger and rescue their owners, but I am thinking of a more personal show of love.
I had a cat, Simba, that would sit a few feet away from me and whenever I looked at him, he would slowly blink. I started blinking back and EVERY single time he would repeat the gesture. It was his quiet “I love you.”
My little Maltese, Surya, is always at my feet. It doesn’t matter what I am doing, I have to watch for him, because he is always there.
Roxanne, my terrier mix, does what I call “armless hugs.” She gets on my lap and puts her head under my chin and just leans in. She makes these sweet sighing noises that just kill me.
So I want to hear what your pets do to show you they love you. Tell me in the comments below.
If you want to have pictures taken of your pet and wonder “How does it work?” This post is for you. When you book a session with me, we will discuss what type of photos you are wanting of your pet, either by phone or in person (in person usually works best, especially if I can meet your pet and help them get comfortable with me) and you will receive a copy of my contract and a questionnaire by email. The contract is because….you know….legal stuff and the questionnaire helps me understand your animal a little better. You fill that out and send it back to me before our appointment and I know what I need to be prepared to get the best pictures possible.
On the day of our session, I will arrive at your home with a portable studio set-up. There will be backdrops, lights and any props that might be helpful. The easiest way to take good photos of an animal is to have a relaxed animal and most pets feel happier in their own space. I will spend some time getting to know your pet (that helps me to figure out how to best bribe them to cooperate) and may even work on training certain behaviors (like ignoring a big flashing light). Finally, I will start photographing your pet. I will make crazy noises, use grunting pig toys and squeaky chickens to get their attention and I will probably ask you to help me guide them to pose for me. We may end up taking a few breaks here and there so nobody gets too stressed (owners I’m talking about you too). The whole process normally takes about 1.5 to 2 hours, but can be a bit longer for animals that are shy.
Once the photographs are taken, I will spend some time processing them and let you know when they are ready to view. That normally happens within two weeks, but can be as long as a month during busy times. I will make an appointment to meet with you and talk about which photos you would like to purchase. After ordering, the prints should be ready for delivery in about 7-10 days.
Hopefully, I have answered most of your questions about how the process works, but feel free to post anything I missed below and I will do my best to answer.
Ever thought that you would like to have pictures of your cat, but you just know your cat wouldn't cooperate? Your cat would never sit still long enough for the photographer to get a good picture. Here's a secret...it only takes a split second to get a beautiful picture. Photographers using studio equipment usually have strobe lighting that fires at faster than 1/1000th of a second. What that means is 1/1000th of a second is the longest your cat has to hold still!
So really all it takes to go from a cat that is hiding and avoiding the photographer like the one above, to a beautiful photo like the one below, is a split second and a quick photographer. Get those gorgeous pictures.
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