This week's pet photography theme is looking back at older photographs and reprocess them using new and/or different techniques than you might have done in the past. As I began to think about how my pet photography has changed over the last 5-7 years I realized that a lot has changed. I photograph dogs more frequently than cats and I've learned a lot about the body language dogs are providing during a photo session. Pet photography is about creating a connection with the animal(s) such that they are comfortable with you and the energy you are providing. As such, I've learned to keep my energy levels calm - provide a 'happy energy' where the animal will feel comfortable and not anxious. If the dog is outgoing and immediately wants to greet me - and I've had some come at me with tails wagging and tongues ready for kisses - then I focus my attention on them immediately (without the camera). They get a good bit of love, petting, scratching - let's have fun. If the pet is shy or a little less outgoing, then I spend a few minutes talking with the owner/handler and let them pet get used to my presence. I watch the dogs ears, their tails, and whether they are happy or perhaps panting or yawning when it's not hot (a sure sign they aren't comfortable). Cats for sure need their space in most cases, so I let them come to me on their terms providing of course it doesn't look like it's going to take all day. All these things have added to my having a better end product when the photograph session is completed.
After the photo session has ended, more 'magic' happens on the computer. Most all photographs I process have several steps (not in a specific order):
There may be other things that I will do to a given photograph, but these are the key things I look for when I am processing a pet photograph. In some cases, I will do a 'composite' where I will replace a background or remove a large amount of what may have been in the original photograph - however, this is not a 'typical' post processing photograph.
Here's a photograph of a white "Tom" cat - while his fur is white, he was not a clean white as he is an outdoor tom cat.
In the below photograph, the eyes are lighten to be a brighter yellow, the fur a little whiter and provides a better overall photograph of the cat.
For the below photograph of my first dog, Dolly I made several changes. Here's the original taken of Dolly back in 2011 with older equipment and intended to just be a 'snapshot' not a full blown photo session. She was my first "pet model" and I'm blessed that she was so willing - I only wish my pet photography was a great as it is now back when she was young! We lost our beloved Dolly almost 5 years ago shortly after our boy, Jimbo, came into our lives.
Here's the post processed photograph. I'm sure you can see the difference - I cropped the photograph to remove some of the lighter background colors, I increased the overall exposure of the entire photo, lightened and sharpened her eyes.
For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Elayne Massaini - Pet Photos - Sao Paulo - Brazil and then head around the rest of the blog circle.
If you would like to book a custom pet portrait session, send an email to [email protected] or give us a call/text at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).