Pet photography is becoming so popular that programmers have decided that it is worth their time to create facial recognition systems for them. Of course, those systems depend on clear pictures, and it isn’t very easy to get a cat or dog to hold still long enough to get a good shot. It certainly is possible to get animals to stay still for long enough to take a picture, but it takes a little bit of skill and a healthy dose of strategy. Fortunately, there are a few basic techniques that are fairly easy to master and work well enough for most photographers.
Dogs love treats, especially after they work for them. Cats also love a good treat, but they tend not to be quite as food-oriented as dogs, so this technique is best for taking pictures of a canine companion.
The best way to use treats is to offer them as a reward for good behavior before the photo shoot. It will take some time, but training a dog to sit and stay using treats is a great way to make future photo shoots go smoothly.
That having been said, it is a good idea to bring a few treats to the shoot. That can be an unusual environment for a dog, which causes some stress that can make the animal struggle to listen to commands. Similarly, some dogs will hesitate to listen to people other than the humans that they are accustomed to, and treats can help to quickly build trust to resolve that problem. Handing out treats when the dog behaves properly will help to ensure that he remembers his training and does what he needs to do. This can even be effective if the dog has not been trained in advance, but it does work best when the dog has some practice and knows what is expected of him when he hears each command.
Dogs and cats are both predator species, so they tend to sleep for a large part of the day. That makes it easy to get a picture, since they don’t move very much while sleeping, but that technique does restrict the poses and backgrounds far more than most photographers would like.
If they do decide to sleep in an appropriate place, that is the best time to get a picture. However, it is possible to take advantage of their sleepy nature to get other pictures. Photographers who are patient can put an animal’s bed in front of whatever background they want and simply wait for the creature to go to sleep. Food can work just as well to lure pets into the right position.
The downside to this technique is that the pictures will only capture pets that are eating or sleeping. Those can still be excellent pictures, but people who want to get other poses will need to rely on other methods to get the pets to hold still.
Catch Their Attention
The biggest challenge that most photographers face is getting the animals to keep their heads still. Even a dog or cat that is sitting in one place will often keep moving its head to look around. That’s a natural action for the animals, since they want to look out for predators, prey, or any interesting things in the environment. That means that the easiest way to work around that reflex is to make sure that the most interesting thing that they can see is the camera, which ensures that they will face it while the photographer takes the picture.
Using the animal’s favorite toy is the easiest way to get their attention. Noise can also help, but it needs to be used with care. While most animals will immediately investigate a sudden sound, they tend to tune out any repetitive sounds fairly quickly. Clapping once or twice might be enough to get their attention, but constantly squeaking a toy will just annoy them.
Treats can also help, but they tend to be smaller and harder to see, so they don’t always work as well as a toy. In most cases, it’s best to bring several options to the shoot and try them all to see which the animal finds most interesting. After all, animals are individuals, and each one is unique!