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Picture Perfect: Get Frame-Worthy Shots of Furred and Feathered Friends

Patience and practice make for perfect pet pics

All Animals magazine, January/February 2013

Bruce Peerson

by Arna Cohen

Come on, ’fess up now. When someone asks to see pictures of your family, you flip open your wallet or fire up the smartphone and proudly display … your pet. Here’s Snowball sleeping, Snowball eating, and Snowball playing. The spouse? The kids? Oh, yeah, here they are. And this is Snowball on his back, Snowball staring into space…

We can’t help ourselves—our pets are just so darn adorable. They make ideal subjects, never complaining that their hair’s a mess or flat out refusing to get in the picture. And what they wouldn’t do for a treat!

Happily, modern technology makes photography more accessible than ever for today’s pet owners—even the most inexpensive point-and-shoot digital camera automatically adjusts focus, exposure, and shutter speed. And the immediate results help improve technique, says photographer Stacey Morgan. “You’re not waiting for film to be processed to see what you messed up.”

Since you never know when that prize pose will happen, it pays to be prepared, notes photojournalist Robin Layton. “Instead of packing [your camera] away in the closet or camera bag, just have it ready” so you can catch those moments.

Above all, enjoy yourself and the time you are sharing with your beloved companion. “The fundamentals of taking a quality photo haven’t changed,” says photographer Jay Herman. “… Shoot in the simplest way possible. Don’t be scared of making mistakes. The more experience you get under your belt, the more comfortable you’ll feel.”

To capture your pet’s unique beauty and personality on film, follow these additional tips from the pros—illustrated with the winner and five runners-up in the judged category of the HSUS/HSI World Spay Day 2012 Pet Photo Contest.

About our experts

Pulitzer Prize–nominated photojournalist Robin Layton helped judge the World Spay Day 2012 photo contest. Her stunning portraits of dogs and their people are the centerpieces of her book A Letter to My Dog. She lives in Seattle, Wash.

Photographer Stacey Morgan’s subjects have included Julia Child, Richard Nixon, and Cab Calloway. Now the Wayne, Pa., artist and author focuses on her true love—dogs. Morgan was a judge for the 2012 Spay Day contest.

For the love of a dog, Jay Herman left a career in commercial and medical photography. Adopting his beloved Abby inspired him to create Zoom Pet Photography in Austin, Texas. His work appears regularly in Austin Pets magazine.


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