Professional photographer Tamara Bauer shares great advice on how to photograph animals.
Animals have been a passion of mine ever since I can remember…they are a favourite subject to photograph and I’d like to share some tips for animal photography for folks who are newcomers to this kind of subject matter.
Get down low
Try to avoid the typical “snapshot” type of picture. There are so many animal pictures in microstock already, so try to aim for something a little more out of the ordinary.
Most pets are smaller than us, and photographs taken from a standing position usually aren’t all that interesting. If you can get down low, so you are at eye level with the animal, it can really change the dynamics of your picture, even for animals that are larger than us.
Focus on the eyes
They say that eyes are the window to the soul…Eyes are the first thing we look into, we rely a great deal on visual communication via the eyes. So, always, always make sure the eyes are in sharp focus.
Think about your background
Sometimes, using a shallow depth of field is the best way to go, to remove distracting elements from your backgrounds. You want the animals to “pop” from the image, and a nice smooth bokeh background is perfect for this. A telephoto lens is ideal. But sometimes, the environmental elements are too good to leave out, and they form an important part of the image. If this is the case, be sure to try and capture it.
Get a different angle
Apart from getting down low, try to think of some creative angles that might be worth trying. You might make use of a ladder or chair to get up high instead, and capture a “bird’s eye view”…Try to avoid lining up your subject dead center in the frame, unless it would make for a great symmetrical shot.
Look for the light
Don’t limit yourself to midday light or indoor flash. You can get some amazing images at early dawn or evening when the sun is setting. If you’re shooting in the midday sun, try to use some fill flash to bring out the details in the shadows. Be conscious though of the animal’s reaction – flash may frighten them. Cloudy days can make for lovely soft lighting – but it may require some additional post processing to prevent your images from looking too dull.
Capture the action
Animals frozen in action can make terrific photos – you’ll capture moments you would miss in the blink of eye.
Working with animals is not easy, nor is it a quick process, and often you have to wait for the right moment, or, if the animal isn’t familiar with you, you’ll have to give them some time to get used to your presence.
If you have a wide angle lens, try it out for some fun shots – sometimes the results are delightful!
Shoot lots of images
The beauty of digital means that we can take as many shots as we like without wasting film. Use this to your advantage, and get out there with your camera and practice, practice, practice. Most of all, have fun – if you enjoy making your images, and if you can create something that stands out a little from the rest, you’re well on the way to shooting successful animal stock images!
Guest Author Tamara Bauer is a professional stock photographer and photo editor with Dreamstime.com stock photography. Her portfolio can be viewed at: http://www.dreamstime.com/tamarabauer_info. Images copyright Tamara Bauer, used by permission.