Halloween is approaching fast and you’ve finally decided on a costume idea for your pet this year. It’s a great time to take fun photos of your pet! However, not all pets will pose for the camera, and they might even be afraid of it. They may even want to add your camera to their toy collection!
Even if you don’t have a lot of practice taking photos of your pets, you can always improve your skills. Whether they actually keep the costume on or not, or for any time of year, here are a few tips to to take great photos of your pets in costumes for Halloween.
If this is the first time you have put your pet in costume, or any type of pet clothing, keep it simple. For example, you may be able to add a Halloween-themed cape or collar with the help of some velcro. The material should be lightweight and feel as natural as possible. Comfortable, soft material will help. Give them some time to get used to it before you snap away. Most of all, be patient!
Spooky Frenchie Ghost by Sarah Boudreau from Unsplash
Natural light, whenever possible, is the best choice for taking photos of your pets. This will help to make them comfortable.
Using flash is a bad idea for several reasons:
- bright flash produces harsh light such as bright highlights and dark contrasty shadows,
- creates red eye, and most of all,
- it can scare your pet.
When it is not possible to go outside, go to a room with lots of light such as a with a large window or door. If you get direct sunlight into this room, hang a light sheer curtain to create a more natural look.
If you are outside on a sunny day, have the sun at your back and in front or at the side of your pet. This will light up their eyes and look more natural.
Dog in witch hat near greenhouse by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels
3. Focus on the eyes
The eyes of your pets, or for any type of animal photography, must be sharp and in focus. It is our connection with them. Your pets eyes can be very expressive.
Get down to their level so that they are looking at you in a more natural position. Wave their favorite toy or treat in front of the lens or call out to them with a positive and happy message to get their attention.
Brown tabby with pink cap, Anna Shvets of Pexels
Commie Cat by Uki Eiri from Pixabay
4. Clear the clutter
One of the most distracting elements of a photo is clutter. Wires, books, excessive pillows and blankets that clash with the animals fur, junk, wrappers – doesn’t belong in the photo.
Keep the staging area as clean and simple as possible.
5. Add some festive props
Things that you could add or replace is festive Halloween prints, an orange blanket, a stuffed Halloween plush toy, or even a pumpkin that will not be moved by your pet.
You might add a Halloween-themed background. The best images are simple, which allows your pet to be the star.
This lucky Pomeranian looks great in this very well-done Halloween scene, from the background, the props, lighting and the colorful lite-up lantern front and center.
Pomeranian Witch by Tamara Garcia from Pixabay
6. Use a wide aperture or a macro lens
If you don’t have alot of space to work with, grab a fast lens with a wide apereture. My go-to lens is the 50mm f/1.8 listed here on Amazon. Not only is this a fast lens, but you can create beautiful bokeh in situations that are tight or impossible to de-clutter.
For example, here’s Reggie in the garden. There’s a wire fence behind him and some of the foliage was not the most attractive, so I got down low and was able to use the pull-out variable angled screen on my Canon 80D for even more flexibility. My rabbits do not tolerate much of anything other than blankets, so I got him to pose near a pumpkin.
7. Act Naturally
You know your pet better than anyone. A successful photo will convey the character of your pet. If your pet yawns alot or can perform a trick or be otherwise playful, try to capture those moments. If your pet insists on having their pillow to be natural, just be sure to get down to their level in order to capture them in their best moment. You may need to sit or lie on the floor. If they must be on the couch, remove extra stuff that does not go with the scene.
Animals are creatures of habit. You do not want to make them uncomfortable. They will just become scared or irritated and you will have just lost your chance for a while.
8. Be patient
Your pet may be curious about the new Halloween props in their space. Give them time to check them out and get used to them. Take breaks. Try to do short mini-sessions each day for a few minutes with the new props. Add part of the costume each day so they start to get used to it.
9. Be ready
Depending on your pet, you may only have a few minutes before it runs off and doesn’t return until it’s next meal. If your camera has a burst or continuos shooting mode, be sure all these settings are ready before you bring your pet into the scene.
10. Offer treats
When all else fails, offer your pets, domesticated or not, a few of their favorite treats. They’ll be sure to stick around a few moments longer!
11. Have fun
Halloween is a fun time to photograph your pet. Introducing new seasonal elements such as a pumpkin or some colorful fall leaves, can intrigue your pet and make for some delightful expressions.
Experiment with a few costume ideas, keeping it as simple as possible at first, especially if they’re not used to wearing clothes. Keep the scene simple, yet festive. Get down to their level.
If all else fails, photograph them with a pumpkin for a festive Halloween scene. Better yet, pose WITH them by dressing in costume.
Looking for more photography guides? Check out my blog on Fall Photography Tips for more great ideas on how to capture this beautiful season!
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