Photographing Pets & Kids

For me, the hardest things about photographing pets & kids are: you can't control them, and they're unpredictable. Yet you - as a photographer - are expected to control the uncontrollable and predict how to get great shots of them.

But how???

Kids and pets are typically very busy, moving targets. Though once in a while you'll come across a gold-mine of a shoot (so easy that you're almost tempted to offer another session for free... almost), most of the time things aren't a cake-walk.

Here are some wonderful tips & hints to make your Photo Session go as smoothly as possible...

If the kiddo is upset/crying, take a break from being a photographer & just be "fun".

Let them show you a favorite toy or a new trick. More importantly, let them forget you're trying to get them to do something they don't want to (even if that's just smiling or sitting still)

Don't worry if they don't want to look at you.

Two words: Stranger Danger. Just let them get comfortable with you & the camera... Just give them time & space. This is one reason it's good to allow plenty of time for these shoots.

You can even make the pictures fun for them by playing 'movie star' or funny ways or saying "Cheese!" With really little ones, as a parent for help on tricks (like helping them 'walk')

They won't sit still

Kids like to be on the go. Don't worry about always having the camera on them, no matter where they are. Instead, be prepared for their next move. I know it's hard (maybe impossible) to anticipate where they'll go... But if you can do that, you'll get a good photo.

Want a sure-fire way to get them to go where you want them to? Bring along a colorful toy, a closed box, or an empty Halloween candy tote. Curiosity almost always gets the best of them, and you know right where they're headed.

You can't get them to look at you

No worries - some of the best pictures are taken without looking directly into the lens. You'll get tons of facial expressions - and maybe even smiles - if you're not constantly saying, "No - Look here!"
They move, you cut off their head

It's called clever cropping - you meant to do that! And you'll probably crop the picture down even further.

They reach for your camera

Some of the best shots are completely unintentional/unplanned. Though you can't get any pictures when your lens is totally covered with a hand or nose, you can get some really cute shots when your camera's just out of reach. When the kiddo (or puppy tries) to go for the camera, roll with it!

Next up are some tips geared for pet-photography...

Give them something to play with.
Though your camera strap isn't necessarily the best idea, it sure makes for a cute shot!

Have the puppy's owner play 'tug' with him/her.

Or just let the puppy chew around on its toy.

Catch him off guard...

Catch him with a zoom lens...

Or catch him getting sleepy.

And finally, the best shot for the pet's 'mom' or 'dad'...
Playing with his owner

Though on the move & tilted, this is one of my favorite shots - it would really be killer cropped/edited!

Finally, don't worry. All your hard work will pay off...
A puppy & the pretty little girl both sitting still, nicely posed...

Photographing the 'impossible' - that shot deserves an award! Kidding.

Although it can be tricky, it's definitely possible to get both a young child and a young pet to cooperate - together - for a picture. It takes some help from a parent (or the like), treats (or the promise of), and possibly some very goofy antics to keep them amused.

Just keep an open mind and time frame, and you're bound to get some wonderful pictures from pets and kids.

(**Note: ALL of the above pictures are SOOC shots. I challenged myself to take photos as if I were using film - no post editing allowed. Though they could be a little brighter/crisper/better cropped with editing, they're not half-bad as they are. Challenge yourself to get better SOOC shots as well!)

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