3 Easy Tips for Capturing Your Pet’s Personality in Photos and Video
This article is by guest writer Debbie Glovatsky, the girl behind the curtain of the cat lifestyle blog, GLOGIRLY.com, giving voice to the clever and witty personalities of her cats, Katie & Waffles. Their laugh-out-loud banter will keep you smiling and snickering while the beautiful photography and creative graphics bring their tales to life.
Everyday I marvel at the unique personalities of my pets. For me, capturing their expressions and those silly things they do is more than just having fun with photography and video. It’s more than posting funny pet photos or cat pictures on Facebook and Instagram. It’s also about creating lasting memories I can look back on year after year. It’s about celebrating the love I have for these beautiful animals who touch my heart and enrich my life.
One of the questions I’m most often asked is, “How do you capture the personalities of your cats so well in your pet photos?” Of course there’s a part of me that likes to think every photo I take of them is special and wonderful, but I do have a few simple tricks up my sleeve that help make their personalities shine through. Tricks I hope will help you to do the same.
#1 It’s All About the Eyes
They say the eyes are like windows to the soul. This couldn’t be truer when it comes to our pets. After all, it’s one of the primary ways in which they communicate with us. They can speak volumes with a single glance.
One of the best ways to capture your pet’s personality in a photograph is to connect with their eyes.
When you think about it though, most of us stand anywhere from three to five feet taller than our pets. Grab your camera, aim and you’ll likely be looking down at the top of their head with nothing but floor in the background. The solution is simple. See the world through their eyes and their perspective.
For me, that means trying to make myself about 18” tall. And for most us, will require some crawling around on the floor, perhaps even lying on the ground. It wouldn’t be wrong to have a cushy pillow handy. Hold your camera as close to your pet’s eye level as possible, or even a little lower. Sometimes I’ll set my camera right on the floor – I love this perspective. Zoom in tight for a portrait style photograph or go wide to capture a little more of their world and how they see it.
ADVANCED TIP: Focus on the eyes. Position your camera’s focus ring where the pupil meets the iris, or if that’s too difficult to see, at the very edge of the eye.
#2 Act Natural
One thing is for certain – your pets may love posing for you, but never when you have your camera ready. Even the most well trained dogs can be a challenge to direct. And cats? Enough said.
Some of the most captivating photos of pets that capture their true spirit happen when we just let them be who they want to be and do what they want to do. Like the previous tip suggests, immerse yourself into their world.
You know your pet best. You know their routines and what engages them. Have your camera ready to catch them anticipating mealtime, lounging by the window, enjoying laundry day or exploring a new empty box. Be ready to capture them just being themselves.
I’ll often sit down on the floor near them, give it a few minutes or so and just see what happens. They’re almost always curious about what’s going on when I’m close by and in their space. Sometimes the best photos happen when you don’t have a set plan. The more and more you do this, the more your pet will become accustomed to you clicking away with your camera and the more you’ll start seeing their personality shine in those simple things they do. Think candid, not posed.
ADVANCED TIP: When photographing people and pets try to avoid holding a pet who doesn’t want to be held. Instead, let the pet become comfortable and work around where they want to be. Cat towers, ottomans, stools and other furniture are great ways of getting them both at the same level. Faces together, everyone!
#3 Live Action
Part of the joy of being a pet parent is watching our furry family members run and jump and play with reckless abandon. For cats, it’s the thrill of the hunt, or in the case of my orange Tabby Waffles, the thrill of breakfast. And for dogs, life is one big party when the tennis balls come out. What better way to showcase your pet’s personality than catching them in action?
As much as I love still photography, there’s nothing quite like capturing your pet’s voice, the wag of their tail or their sprint to fetch their toy in live-action.
Mobile phones make shooting video easier than ever and with simple editing tools like iMovie or Movie Maker, you can turn a few clips into a fun video that will have you hitting replay again and again.
All the same tips apply – let your pets do what comes naturally to them and whenever possible, make eye contact.
Waffles’ Breakfast Song is a little video I put together using just a couple of clips I took while he was waiting for me to bring him his breakfast. I had my iPhone in one hand and a food dish in the other. The clips took only a few minutes to shoot. I used iMovie to shorten them up, keep just the funny parts and add a couple of titles and some music. Easy peasy.
ADVANCED TIP: To create a still photo from your video, just pause it where you want and take a screen shot. Look for frames that are nice and clear and where the eyes are in focus.