Simple Tips & Tricks for Better Photos & Videos That Save Lives
If a great description of an adoptable pet can help sell him or her online, then a picture is, as the saying goes, worth 1,000 words. A great video is probably worth 1 million. But, lets face it, there is a reason photographers say they never want to work with pets or children. They are not always the most cooperative when it comes to posing for the camera. To make matters worse, animal shelters are often dark, noisy places where sitting still and smiling are low on the priority list for most dogs, cats and other creatures we need to photograph. As challenging as it can be, following these tips and tricks will help you make the most of your online pet marketing.
Tip #1: It is all about the lighting
Photography is, in no small way, painting with light. Light bounces off the subject being photographed and is captured by the camera in order to preserve the image in print or on-screen. The more light available for capture, the easier it is for the camera to work its magic. The amount of available light determines critical things, like the speed of the camera's shutter when the photograph is taken. The more light, the faster the shutter can snap open and closed, meaning there is less likelihood of blurriness resulting from motion of the subject or camera when the picture is taken. More light also allows the lens aperture (opening behind the lens that allows light into the camera) to be smaller. The smaller the aperture, the longer the focal range will be in the final picture, and the clearer and more crisp it will be. More light also improves exposure, brightness, contrast and color saturation.
When possible, select a photography location that is well-light, but that avoids strong back-lighting. Bright, diffused lighting is better than directional lighting, in most cases.
Note: use of most camera flashes in low-light situations should be avoided. Dogs and cats have highly reflective eyes and use of flashes generally results in "glowing eyes" that hide the warmth and personality of the pet being photographed.
Tip #2: Turn your phone sideways
Many people use their smart phones by holding them upright so the phones are taller than they are wide. But, the phones work just as well when turned on their sides, so they are wider than they are tall.
When shooting pictures to appear on the Internet, including most social media, that means it is often best to shoot photos in the wide format, because that is the general format of a computer monitor. When viewed full screen, they will be larger and clearer.
When shooting movies, the camera should always (or nearly always) be turned on it's side so that the video is properly formatted for the best full-screen play on computers and televisions, which all have landscape formats (i.e. they are wider than they are tall).
Tip #3: Take Short movie clips
For those subjects who just won't sit still, don't waste time trying to snap that fleeting second when the pet is looking at the camera and smiling. Instead, take short movie clips. Each second of a movie clip is a series of rapidly taken still photos. You can flip through them frame-by-frame to catch the perfect spit-second.
Tip #4: Clean, simple background
The background of a photo should help to showcase the subject. In the case of pet photos, when it comes to the background, less is more. Chose a background that will contrast with the color of the pet and that is clean and uncluttered.
Tip #5: Change the angle
Many people have a tendency to photograph pets from a person's natural standing position. However, by changing the angle of the photograph, by getting down to a dog or cat's level, a photograph can take on a new life.
Tip #6: Take a lot of photos
It is always easier to take some extra photos when you are with the pet than it is to have to take them out again later if you end up not having a good shot.