Have you ever taken a photo of your pet and wondered where you are going wrong? Between lights, filters and fluffy troublemakers, taking what seems like a simple task can often feel like you need a team of six. Fear not! Christies has asked their resident photography experts for all the steps you need to improve your photos, even on your phone!
As dog groomers you know that pet owners love a great photo of their pups at the end of a groom and you can even add these on as part of your service to earn an extra bit of cash. And if you’re a pet owner you can still stay read on to see how you can capture your pets at their finest.
So let me show you how you can go from this
Step 1: Dressing your “set”
Now you may be going - I don’t have a set. But whenever I say this, I mean where you are taking the photo, whether it’s your grooming salon, living room or back garden. Ensuring your surroundings look good can massively affect the image. Depending on what type of photo you are going for will depend on the steps you need to do this.
For a natural shot:
Make sure your tabletops or surfaces are clear from hair, dust or unnecessary objects, so give them a wipe down to prevent this. Be extra careful with items such as your phone, grooming equipment or small items that may be easily forgotten.
Then ensure your background is clear. You don’t need to remove everything from your background, but make sure that the items are placed further back and out of focus, to make sure that the dog is the star of the show.
For a staged shot:
With these, we’re going to talk about creating a shot with props and specific backgrounds to give an atmosphere. Most groomers do seasonal photoshoots for their grooms and these types of shots are popular with customers.
So similarly to a natural shot, you need to get your background right. You’ll need to choose your background correctly to make sure the dog ‘pops’ from the background. One thing to note is the colour of the animals you’ll be photographing. For halloween, you can often go to darker colours, however if you’re photographing dark or black dogs often, it’ll be harder to distinct them for the background, we always find that a more colourful approach is better. You can also get thematic backgrounds online e.g. ebay, with different scenes on them, which can really add to the effect you’ll be going for.
Then make sure that you’re setting up any props on the table that’s going to add a little bit of fun and atmosphere to the picture. You can even include products in these photos to show off what you’re using on the dog!
Lighting is massively important when it comes to taking photos, as without the correct lighting, your shots can look dark or not balanced. The first thing you have to think about is, are you using natural or artificial lighting?
For natural lighting:
Make sure that wherever you are taking the photo, the light is pointing towards the pet’s face - there’s a reason why models “find their light”. By putting the light in front of your pet’s face, you are ensuring that your phone/camera is able to pick up on all of your pet’s features. If the light comes from behind them, their features will not be clear and your photos will be lack-lustre.
For artificial lighting:
In most spaces, you’ll have overhead lighting, which causes shadows underneath the eyes and anywhere that might affect the light, therefore you’ll need to counteract these to minimise the shadows on your pets face.
A quick fix for this is getting a ring light! You can point this directly at the pet, but if you find that the overhead shadows are just too much, lower the light slightly and have this pointing slightly upwards. This should light your pet sufficiently to make sure you’re showing off those adorable faces.
Taking the photo
When it comes to taking photos, it’s all about the angle and for this you’ll need to work your knees to get the perfect shot. When it comes to pet photos, taking it from your height, looking down means you won’t be able to see the full shot of the pet and any grooming work you will have done won’t be reflected.
The best angle to take pets from is eye level. So if you bend your knees down to eye level, you’ll get a clearer shot. If you’re in a grooming salon and using your grooming table and if it’s electric or hydraulic, you can raise the dog up to your height to give your knees a break.
Also, if your phone has portrait mode, taking pet shots in portrait mode creates a focus solely on the pet, giving you a clearer shot and if you struggle with a shaky hand, purchasing a phone holder helps too, which can be clamped to a chair or table, meaning all you have to do is click a button to get the perfect shot. Always make sure that you are taking these photos with your back camera, as these cameras usually are of a higher spec, meaning that the quality will be better.
When you’re working with the pet, you have to gauge their personality to get the best shot. Some pets are hyper when you call their name or use a toy, so with them, I usually bide my time and wait for the right shot! With more relaxed dogs, you can use these methods (and maybe a treat) to get them to look in your direction.
Now it’s time for the edit! I’ll be showing you how to do this on your phone's photo editing settings.
When it comes to editing your photo, less is more! When editing a pet photo, I’d recommend editing the brightness and then the tones of the photo. You shouldn’t need to brighten or darken your photo too much if your lighting is good, however giving it a quick brighten up may make all the difference.
Sometimes when we brighten photos, the shadows can become grey, for this I’d go into your contrast and up this slightly just to get that definition back.
Finally, tones! In every room, there is a tone, if you have green walls, your photos will always have a green shade, similarly, if your lighting is warm, your photos may come out with a slightly more yellow hue than you’d like.
In this case, we look at the colour wheel. The colour wheel tells you about complementary and contrasting colours. All you need to know is whatever tones you want to remove from your photo, add in the colour that is opposite to this on the colour chart. So if your photo is looking slightly orange, add some blue and if your photo is looking too green, add some pink.
In your phone, you’ll find the warmth/temperature setting, this is where you can fix oranges/blues. In the tint section, this is where you fix greens/pinks.
This is also where you can play around with your settings to get a style that you like. I’ve given you the basics but if you want to look into this further, the best way to do this is by testing and seeing what you like. If you find a setting that suits you, write this down for future use!
And after all of this, let’s see the final result once again! Doesn’t Frank look like an angel?