Once you’ve decided to invest in a pet portrait experience, there’s a whole other list of decisions you’ll need to make. Not many, but some…when to do it? …what to wear? …where to go? But, there’s no need to panic. If you’ve found a good photographer, they will gladly educate you on your options and offer suggestions…or even make the decision for you in some cases 😉 One of the most common decisions clients need help with is how to choose a photo shoot location. I personally LOVE when clients rely on me to suggest a location. As a photographer, the only thing worse than a bad location is bad light. So, what makes a good location? Here’s a few things that pet parents should consider when trying to choose a photo shoot location for their pet family portraits:
Where is familiar/comfortable for your pet?
Think about where your pet spends most of their time. Most people would say their home. And, guess what…your home can be an excellent photo shoot location! You don’t need to live in a mansion or perfectly landscaped cottage to have a photo shoot at your home. Sure, you’ll want to tidy up a bit, but any professional photographer will be able to work with whatever type of environment your home provides. A home can offer several options for different shots: in the backyard, in the frontward, on the couch, in the kitchen, on your bed, in the car, or around the neighborhood.
I’m all for breaking some rules in order to get a good shot, but you can only go so far when animals are involved. For pet family portraits, it’s important to ensure that pets are actually allowed at the location. And if they are, what rules apply? Can they be off-leash? Are they only allowed during a certain time of year? Is it restricted to service animals? Luckily, San Diego is a very pet-friendly place. The majority of parks and other public hot spots allow pets. Most places require pets to be leashed, but that doesn’t mean your photos have to rock the leash too. Like I said, I’m all for breaking some rules (like unleashing for a minute or crossing a boundary line) so long as the situation proves safe enough. And if that’s not an option, there’s always the magic of Photoshop to get rid of an unwanted object 😉
photographed at Bressi Ranch in Carlsbad, CA
Try to avoid crowds (especially pet crowds).
The dog park may be your pet’s favorite place to play, but it’s not the best photo shoot location. Not only will there be an abundance of distractions, but there’s a good chance the other dogs will want to steal the spotlight. Your photo session is YOUR photo session. You don’t want tons of other pets messing with your experience. With that said, you don’t need to find a place where NO other pets will be. I mean, that’s almost impossible (unless you stay home). But, it’s beneficial to choose a location that provides options for getting away from others. The less crowded the location, the less distracted your pet will be, and the cleaner your photos will look.
photographed at La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, CA
Ask your photographer for recommendations!
There’s a reason photographers like me are called “on-location photographers.” It’s because we spend every shooting hour at a location (not in a studio). And when we’re not shooting at a location, we’re scouting them. And when we find a place we like, we make the effort to shoot there again. So, if you find yourself clueless as to where to go, or even if you have a preference but aren’t sure where exactly, just ask! I personally have a TON of uncharted territory to still scout in sunny San Diego, but a few of my favorites so far include: Guajome Park, Los Peñasquitos Canyon, Balboa Park, and Seaport Village.
Photographed at Balboa Park in San Diego, CA
So, now that you know HOW to choose, WHERE would you like to go?! Call or email me to schedule your complimentary Consultation, and we’ll discuss all your location options.
Whether you’re a professional photographer or an enthusiastic phonographer (some one who’s phone is constantly in camera mode), one thing’s for sure…photographing your dog at the beach is a fun way to spend the summer. But sometimes, all that fun isn’t captured quite how you remember it…The sky was so blue, but in your photos, it’s bright white. Your dog looks like it only has one eye because of the harsh shadow on his face. Or everything’s just a blur. I understand how difficult, and sometimes frustrating, it can be. It’s not as easy as some make it seem. So, to help you improve those photos you’re taking of Sparky this summer, here’s 5 Pro Tips For Photographing Your Dog At The Beach…
1. Shoot with the sun at an angle (not directly in front, behind, or above you)
There’s a reason photographers refer to the few hours after sunrise and before sunset as “magic hour.” Simply because it provides the most flattering sunlight. Ask ANY professional photographer if they shoot outside between the hours of 11am – 3pm and they’ll cringe at the thought. Those hours are reserved for swimming, relaxing, eating lunch, editing…not shooting. So, get to the beach early or stay late, and don’t shoot in the middle of the day. Directional light that comes from an angle of 45 degrees or less adds long shadows that give an image more depth. Shooting at high noon will only create shadows that will make your subjects look like something straight out of a zombie movie!
2. Avoid crowds
Although it’s often unavoidable (especially during the summer), it can be worth the effort to try to find a spot that’s a little less crowded. Not only does it make for cleaner backgrounds, but it also keeps your dog from getting easily distracted. Dogs are curious beings, but they’re more likely to be curious about other dogs running around than your camera. So, try to find a spot that’s a little more secluded, like near a jetty or cliff, under a bridge, or around the corner. If you’re a professional photographer and/or skilled in Photoshop, you can usually edit out any unwanted background objects, like people, but save yourself the trouble by not getting them in the photo in the first place.
3. Shoot using Evaluative Metering & a Fast Shutter Speed
If you’re not a pro, I’ve probably just confused you be using the terms “evaluative metering” and “fast shutter speed.” These are technical settings that aren’t available on phone cameras…well, not yet anyways. But for those of you who use what photographers refer to as “real cameras,” this is what I recommend if you don’t shoot in Manual mode. Evaluative metering basically determines what exposure to set your camera at by evaluating the entire scene and averaging it to give a “correct” exposure. This is beneficial when shooting at the beach because it gives a good average exposure, making it easier to bring back the detail in the shadows and highlights during post-production. As for the shutter speed, that’s really the only way you’re going to be able to freeze those moments when your dog is running, swimming, jumping, and shaking off all that water. If your shutter speed is anything slower then 1/250, you’re guaranteed to get motion blur.
4. Use a Reflector (or a Flash) to fill harsh shadows
I know, I know..who the heck brings a reflector to the beach?! Professional photographers, that’s who! But, for those of you who aren’t pros, there’s good news. As long as you understand the concept of what a reflector does, you can find other items to use to get the same result. A reflector is literally a large flat object used to reflect light from the main light source onto the shadow areas of your subject. In the image above, the main light source is the sun coming in at a 45 degree angle from the left, which caused a pretty harsh shadow on the right side of the dog. To brighten up the shadow, a reflector was held a few feet away and pointed right at the dog so that the light from the sun bounced into the shadow on the dog. See that little white light in the dog’s left eye (the eye in the shadow)? That’s the light from the reflector! Without the reflector, that eye would be pitch black.
So, if you don’t have a reflector, look for something that can act as one. The side of a white building, a piece of paper, a white t-shirt…heck, you can even use your phone’s flashlight!
You can take the same approach with a Flash. Whether your flash is on camera or off to the side, use it to fill in the shadow and light up the dog’s eye. The only reason I don’t have an example of what flash vs reflector looks like is because I really really really don’t like to use flash unless absolutely necessary. That’s just my style…plus I find that most animals don’t care for it much either. Just saying…
5. Avoid the water until the end of the shoot (if possible)
Not all dogs at the beach like the water, but those that do typically run straight in the moment they get there. And who can blame them?! I’m the same way – haha! But, if you’re trying to take pictures, especially for a professional shoot, you really want to try to avoid letting the dog get wet until the end of the shoot. Wet dogs are cute and all, but most people don’t want every single image of their dog to be when they’re soaking wet and covered in sand. To avoid the water, try playing fetch first, walking around on the leash, or doing some group shots. Then, hit the splash zone!
I hope you found these tips helpful. For more educational resources, like “6 Secrets To Looking Good In Photos,” click HERE.
Are you struggling to achieve your goals? I’m no Tony Robbins, but I do read his stuff, and if there’s one thing he’s taught me is that the real value of a goal comes from actually accomplishing it. In a recent post of his, he shared “to achieve anything, you first think of the future, you must envision it, you must plan it, then you must go after it.”
Regardless how big or small the goal is, it’s crucial to implement a strategy and tactics for each. But trying to accomplish ALL of these tasks and to-do’s associated with achieving your goal often have people feeling overwhelmed and thinking “where do I start?” “how do I know if I’m doing it right?” or “at what point do I give up?” Well, don’t give up just yet. Here are 5 steps to help you ensure you’re on the right track to achieve your goals…
Make your goal visible. Write your goal down or print off a picture that displays your goal, or powerful statement reminding you of your goal, and put it everywhere- the bathroom mirror, the fridge, or next to your computer.
Set a deadline. If you are trying to finish a project, or save up for a big trip, give yourself a specific date that you need to meet your goal by. This is a great way to get motivated and will help you work hard as you know you only have so much time left to get where you want to be. Remember, to be realistic…chances of loosing 10lbs in a week in pretty slim.
Make an effort every day to meet your goal, and keep track of your progress. You could record one positive effort you have made every day in a notebook or tracking journal. Focusing on baby steps will help the goal seem more attainable.
Prioritize your time and effort. If your goal is more important to you than your T.V. show, then be willing to put aside some of your “extras” or unnecessary time draining activities to allow you the focus and time you need to complete your goal.
Make it happen. The best way to get something done is to get up and do it.
So, what’s your goal for this month? …the next 6 months? …the next year? Right them in the comments below. This helps hold yourself accountable for actually achieving them, which has proven to be one of the most effective methods.
We all know how adorable your pet is in photos. Let’s face it…the first thing you do when you tell some one yo have a pet is pull out your phone so you can show them a photo, right? But what about you?
Do you look at photos of yourself and think “I look awkward…my hair looks funny…my smile looks unnatural…”
Well, have no worries, as a professional photographer I encounter this with people all the time. And that’s why I’m here to help. Next time you’re worried about looking good in photos, try these 6 easy tips that can take you from unflattering to simply gorgeous, darling 😉