7 Tips to Photographing a Camera-Shy Pet

September 20, 2011

Like any good advertising or marketing campaign, good photos sell! And that is true for pet adoption as well! Quality photos can make a great first impression for pets in need of rescue or adoption and is one of the proven no kill initiatives for increased pet adoptions. The following is the first of a Pawsitively Texas Best Practice Series on Photographing Shelter and Rescue Pets to help them find their forever home.

by Kit Jones Meyers, Pet Photographer

We’ve all come across the pets that refuse to have their picture taken. They won’t look at the camera. They put whatever they can between you and them. It can be so frustrating! They have no idea you’re only trying to help them find a forever home.

I’ve spent many hours in the shelter’s playpen stalking dogs with my camera. Here are a few tips that help me capture those camera shy beauties! (Disclaimer, I work mainly with dogs, however, these tips can be used for kitties as well.)

1. Be Patient. Patience is a virtue with a camera shy dog.  Many times if you wait long enough, the dog will relax.  He/she will lay down or sit quietly.Pet photography photo That’s your chance to capture a great picture!

2.  Food/Toy Motivation. One of the easiest ways to motivate a camera shy dog is with treats and/or toys. However, use them sparingly.

3. Take Profile Pictures. There are many times when the only shot you can muster is a profile. Do it!! Beautiful profile pictures can capture the animal’s essence as much as any other. Pet photography portrait

4. Don’t be Afraid to be Goofy. Being strange not only captures the eye of a passerby, it also grabs the attention of the dog. I’ve meowed, belly crawled, laid underneath the dog, Grrr’d with my stuffed dog toy, and placed toys on my head. It’s all in a day’s work.

5. Be a Camera Ninja. That’s right, a camera ninja! Be ready to snap that picture. You never know when that split second pose is going to arise. So stalk the subject until that perfect shot occurs and pounce on it!

pet portrait photo

6. Ask for Help. Call in backup if needed. I work alone. However, on occasion, I come across a dog that will flat out not allow a picture to be taken.  That’s when I ask someone to sit with him/her and I work my shots around the assistant.

7.  If All Else Fails, Try Again! Sometimes the stars are not aligned no matter what you do. A good picture is not in the cards. My advice, try again on another day. I’ve run into this situation with new shelter residents. He/she is confused and scared. My attempts at getting a photo may be more stressful than it’s worth so I move on. I will check on him/her at my next visit and try again.

Photographing animals is a constant learning process. I love the challenge and the fulfillment I receive working with my shelter pets. I hope these tips help you in your endeavors to find these awesome animals forever homes.

About Kit Myers: Kit’s love of photography led her to start taking photos of cattle and cowboys, beautiful things in her rural country life. “About a year ago, I was searching online viewing the adoptable dogs available at the local shelter. The pictures were, let’s just say, less than attractive. So I broke my rule and actually went to the shelter. Of course, the dog I was interested in was gone but I found a very friendly staff. I inquired about volunteering as a photographer. Shortly after I began taking the pictures, I felt a need to showcase the animals so I began 4 Paws Project on Facebook.  This has been the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done.” Check out more of Kit’s photography here on her website: http://www.crazymphotography.com

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