1. Relax and Move Slowly
Animals are like little emotional sponges, and if you are stressed and anxious, they will sense it and become stressed and anxious too. A stressed animal will give you ‘ears flattened’, ‘concerned eyes’ looks. A stressed animal will also fidget, action shots tend to be blurry.
2. Focus on eyes and expressions
The eyes are the most expressive part of an animal’s face, so if you want to create really engaging portraits, focus on the eyes and facial expressions. A well-timed puppy whine (from you) can reel in focus in a puppy or curious dog, and have them staring straight at the camera faster than you can say “woof”. There are even apps that play barks, yaps, woofs, miaows and whinnies for you!
3. Shoot at their eye-level
Avoid taking photos from above, it looks best when the camera is at the same level as their eyes. Crouch down to their height. Even if they are up on the sofa, you can get down on the floor, or get right down into the grass if you're outside! It'll be worth it I promise!
4. Go where the light is best
Avoid photographing in dark rooms or under heavily overcast days. Natural light is best, either from a window or take them outside. Being outside will also mean you won’t need flash, which usually makes the eyes glow, shine and sparkle.
Every animal needs to have some sort of motivation otherwise they will wander off and become disinterested. For dogs it may be treats or toys, or simply getting love and affection. For cats it may be a toy, tuna fish, catnip or even their favourite blanket. For horses it may be their favourite food such as carrots or apples. Sometimes it's better to have their favourite someone holding the treat, and someone else behind the camera. Their human can move around and keep their interest focused on them, whilst moving behind the photographer.
6. Include their whole face
Photographs that have ears or noses outside the frame make it difficult to draw a complete portrait as I have to invent the missing areas. Try and include their whole face, or whole body. However, please don’t take photos from too far away, I tend to “zoom” in to draw, and photos from a distance will become very blurry. The further away the photo, the less detail I can draw.