Raise your hand if this has happened to you. Your dog does something amazingly cute, like hopping around, chasing bubbles. For once, you have your phone ready. The lighting is absolutely perfect. You snap a pic, knowing you got a terrific shot. You open up your photo app only to find that your perfect pet photo is a total blur. Or your dog has a distinctly not-so-cute, derpy face, or the angle is all wrong. Sometimes it just feels like you will never be able to get a decent candid shot of your pet.
Are you hoping to get a truly dreamy shot of your pet? One that you can hang on the wall or put on your holiday cards? You don’t have to be a professional pet photographer to get wonderful shots of your animal companion in action. With cell phones being the most common way to take pictures these days, phone cameras have some great features you can use to your advantage. If you have a cell phone with a built-in camera, you are already prepared to start getting some great shots; all it takes is a little practice.
How To Get Pictures Of Your Pet In Action
We’ve put together some tips on using your phone to get great action photos of your favorite furry friend. Don’t worry; you’ll have a phone full of Insta-worthy photos before you know it. Let’s get snapping!
Keep Your Phone Ready
Unless you’ve planned a photo shoot, you don’t know when your pet might suddenly do something you wish you’d caught a picture of. Be prepared for spontaneous shots by keeping your phone nearby. Some of the best photos are candid action shots. If you sense your pet is full of energy and is in a silly mood, this might be a great time to get your phone out and camera app open.
Take A Lot Of Pictures
Professional photographers will usually take around 300-400 pictures during a one-hour session. Of these pictures, usually only around 100 are usable. Even if there’s only one shot you’re hoping to get, take as many pictures as you can. Most phone cameras these days will allow you to take a “burst shot”. As you take a picture of your pet in action, hold down the shutter. Instead of one frame that may not look the best, you will get multiple frames of your pet, and you have a better chance of capturing the moment you were hoping for.
Don’t Forget Your Angles
If you have ever taken a profile picture for Facebook, you know how important it is to work the angles. When taking action shots of your pet, don’t stay static. Your pet is moving, so move with them. Try getting lower, or getting shots from the front instead of the side. Move in closely and zoom in on their face, or move back and get a picture that highlights their motion. Even a slight change in your positioning can change the entire feeling of the picture.
Turn Off The Flash
If your pet is getting up to antics indoors, you may want to reconsider using the flash. The flash could startle your pet and distract them from what they were doing. Also, the flash may create harsh and unflattering shadows. It can also wash out your pet if they have light-colored fur. Not to mention, one bad front shot combined with red-eye from the camera, could make your pet the next viral horror meme.
Natural Light Is Best
Whether you’re planning a photoshoot, or you’re just hoping to get some good shots while your pet plays, you don’t have to have a fancy lighting set up. Open your curtains, or take your pet outside for pictures in natural sunlight. Using the focus tool on your phone helps it automatically set the exposure. This puts the focus of the picture where you want it and allows the phone to set the exposure for the area you want it. For most phones, this is as easy as tapping the screen where you want it to focus.
Keep A Steady Hand
If you want your pictures to really stand out, make sure you keep your hands still. Even if you are moving the rest of your body, try to keep your hands steady to keep your shot properly lined up. Can’t stop your hands from shaking? Find something to use as support. You can even find a reasonably priced tripod just for your phone!
Don’t Forget You Can Fix Things Later
As phone cameras have improved, so has their editing power. Picture a little darker than you want it? You can fix the lighting with your editing tools. Want the image to pop a little more? You can do that too. Play around with your editing tools so you know how to make the most of them. If you are a dedicated amateur, and this is the beginning of a serious hobby, there is editing software with more advanced settings. Some of this you can even find for free!
Even if this is a serious hobby, don’t get so caught up in taking pictures that you forget the most important part. These aren’t just photos, they’re memories of the time you’ve had with your pet.
Even if your photos don’t turn out how you hoped, embrace the awkwardness. Make a silly photo collage, put together an album of all the times your dog missed the ball in mid-air, or frame that hilarious picture of your cat lounging in a cardboard box. A few off-center pictures won’t ruin the memories you have of these times, and they may even grow to be some of your favorites.
It's all about having fun.
Make sure your pet has a blast by treating them to their favorite natural treat or chew!
And you can have fun while you improve your photography skills, and don’t expect to be perfect right away. Photography takes a slot of trial and error until you learn the techniques that work well for you. You won’t believe how fast your skills will improve when you stop trying to be a perfectionist and start leaning into your creativity and enjoying your time with your pet.