Photograph Your Pet – How to Light Your Pet for a Photo Shoot

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 18,674
    Megan Lee, founder and owner of Paws and Claws Photography, discusses how to light your pet for a photo shoot.

    Megan Lee

    Megan Lee, founder and owner of Paws and Claws Photography, has been around animals and photography her whole life. She has taken care of a wide range of animals, including horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, and even guinea pigs. Megan is currently raising two miniature Schnauzers, Parker and Hunter, as well as a lop-eared bunny named Molly. Megan’s passion for photography started in high school, during her first photography class. Soon after her photos appeared in a local photography magazine and displayed at local shows. Since then Megan has taken numerous college level photography classes and graduated from the New York Institute of Photography in 2006. She also continues her education by attending Washington Photo Safaris regularly. Megan has found a way to combine both her passions, and with the help of friends and family she founded Paws and Claws Photography in 2005. Although the company is still young, Megan has been practicing portrait photography for over 6 years. This experience allows Megan to offer professional quality portraits, while at the same time offering much lower prices than her competitors. In addition, Megan offers a complete satisfaction guarantee to every customer.

    Megan with Paws and Claws Photography. The next topic that I want to touch on is lighting. If you are shooting outdoors you want to remember that the light changes as the time of day changes. The sun gets higher and then lower in the sky, affecting the direction in which shadows fall. If the day is sunny, many photographers prefer to work in early morning or late afternoon. On overcast days, the lighting is perfect because the light illuminates all parts of the scene. Because I cannot control the lighting outside I use portable flashes that run off a battery. When the main flash goes off, it triggers the other flashes to go off as well. For example, these are called SB-800, they run off of batteries. There is absolutely no cords or anything like that so it gives me tons of flexibility, I can take them anywhere. Also, like I was saying, the main flash triggers the littler flashes to go off, for example. Now, this allows me to shoot in any kind of situation. When shooting indoors, I use a main light, fill light, and a hair light, but remember, regardless of shooting indoors or outdoors, you want your main light or the sun to be at a 45 angle to the direction of your pet. The fill light is positioned as close to the camera as possible, at about the height of the camera, and the hair light is aimed at the top of your pets head, slightly back. If you set all your lights up or if you're outside in the sun, its still causing shadows on your pet, you can use an umbrella such as this one, that I have here. The umbrella is very easy to use. You can attach it to your main light and you can either shoot through the umbrella or have the light bounce off of your umbrella. The umbrella tends to diffuse light and make things softer on your subject. You can also use in situations if you need more light or less light, you can use a reflector that I have here. Its a portable reflector. If you're outside and you're still having trouble, you can use the gold side. The gold side tends to make things look a little bit sunnier, so people like to use this on overcast days when you want your subject to -- the light on your subject to be a little bit brighter and make things look sunnier, or if its too sunny and you're just getting way too many shadows, you can definitely use the silver side, and the silver side calms things down a little bit. It gives you a more cooler look. A lot of people like to do this on very hot, sunny days, when you're getting a lot of reflection. For example, by the pool you will definitely use the cooler side to cool things down some, or if you're still having problems, or if you have that perfect scene and you cant get -- the sun is right in your pets eyes, you can definitely block the sun with this. This is a reflector that actually blocks the light. For an example, it blocks all paper light and it gives you the ability to look right into the camera, whereas before its a little bit brighter on you. So, definitely you can use any type of those things, they work great.