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Pet photos: they make the Internet shine, but they're hard work.
Animal lovers can testify, the final product may look adorable, but wrangling your pet into a costume, getting them to stare at the camera and “smile” is no easy feat. For every sharable shot, there are likely 25 outtakes that were left on Instagram's cutting room floor. If you are feeling discouraged that your cat or dog isn't as photogenic as Grumpy Cat or Frank the Beautiful Pug, fear not.
Professional pet photographer Seth Casteel and Banfield Pet Hospital have some trade secrets to turn your pet photo session into Vogue worthy shoots — just in time for Halloween and holiday card season.
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For the past month, Casteel, the award-winning photographer responsible for Underwater Dogs, and Banfield Pet Hospital have been traveling the country, capturing stories and photos of cats and dogs for the “Pets Are Heroes Too” project.
For the collection, selections of which can be viewed here, Casteel photographed famous hero pets, like Tillie the setter who stayed with her trapped canine friend Phoebe for a week, but also everyday animals who inspire and help their owners in simpler, but equally important ways.
“Pets are our heroes; my dog Nala is certainly mine,” Casteel shared. “She inspired me to become a photographer and participate in projects that allow me the privilege to give back.”
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Casteel and Banfield Pet Hospital have come up with six easy pet photography tips from their travels, so you can show off your little hero to the world, too.
Read on to find out how to turn your pet photo session into social media gold.
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FIND THE RIGHT LIGHTING
Avoid harsh sunlight. On cloudless days, take photos in the shade.
The best time of day is sunrise and/or sunset.
Avoid using flash unless absolutely necessary. Flash makes lighting harsh and can give your pet red-eye. A bright flash may also scare your pet.
Try placing your pet by a window to capture natural, softer lighting.
A flexible-neck desk lamp can make great lighting for an indoor photoshoot.
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TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES
Especially with a wiggly pet, the more pictures you take, the better chance you'll have to capture a perfect shot.
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GET ON YOUR PET'S LEVEL
Make sure to get down on your pets level for a better angle and more interesting shot.
Use toys and treats to get their attention focused towards you and the camera.
If you are having difficulty getting your pet to stay still, try whistling or making a specific noise to get them in an alert position, and then capture the shot.
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KEEP YOUR PETS IN FOCUS & KEEP EYE CONTACT
It can be tricky to capture an excited pet. Make sure your hand is steady by resting your elbows on a table or fence.
Follow your pet with the camera so the background is blurry but your pet subject is in focus.
Capture your pet's expressions by focusing on their eyes.
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ADJUST YOUR CAMERA PHONE SETTINGS
Turn your phone on HDR mode for clear pictures that help balance the lighting.
Use burst shooting for multiple takes so you have a better chance to capture a stunning action shot of your pet.
Use an editing app to bring out colors in your photo and sharpen the image.
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Make sure to take shots from different angels, distances and perspectives.
A great portrait captures the subject’s personality. Make sure to capture your pet in their natural element.
Pay attention to the background of your photo. Distracting objects will take the focus away from your pet subject.