Instagram is such a big part of many pet guardian’s lives, we’ve decided to add a two-part series to our site as a resource for those seeking the best advice on building an Insta-worthy gallery of their fur babies.
Keep in mind, Fido and Miss Kitty Fantastico don’t even need to be that cute. Instagram and other places we may want to share pictures are really more about the aesthetic. When we create a collection of images that convey a message, or a mood, followers, friends, family, and fans will find the images much more valuable.
For example, Tuna is often called the ugliest dog, but this chihuahua has an Instagram following of over 2 million people. This includes celebrity fans like Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga.
SukiCat is a famous “adventure cat” with a following of 1.5 million and a gallery of images depicting her outdoor follies and adventures. For this kitty’s insta-success, it’s all about the beautiful photos, and the great outdoors.
Not all of us are aiming for dedicated Instagram accounts for our pets with millions of followers, but being able to get the right photo is still pretty satisfying. Instead of watching people frown and cringe as they try to make out which fur baby we’re showing off in that dark, fuzzy photo, it’s always a little more rewarding to be able to hear that “wow!” when we show them an impressive line-up of insta-worthy captures.
The best way to get started is to think about what we’re really trying to accomplish.
For those of us who have dabbled in photography, we may feel comfortable jumping in with a fancy camera, a dedicated room (or corner of a room), and advanced computer software for the editing process. For the rest of us, we just want photos that will wow people, without breaking the bank.
For the pros and hobbyists
This is more about the people who just want to get tips on better photos, but for those who want to venture into more advanced pet photography, we’ve got a few resources to get things started. For those who don’t already have a camera, think about whether going DSLR or mirrorless is preferred. Find out more about that HERE. There are also basics like lenses, memory chips, and other tools of the trade that fellow pros can chat about for days. For more about that, check out this piece as a starting place.
As far as software, many pros use Photoshop. Others prefer Lightroom. Be aware that it is an Adobe subscription service. To get the full package, it can add up to hundreds of dollars a year. For those who are just hobbyists, don’t worry. There is an “Adobe Creative Cloud” subscription for only $10 per month that includes Photoshop, Lightroom, and more. This is an excellent option for anyone who wants to dip their big toe without making a huge investment. There are also free trials available on all Adobe products, HERE.
Beyond the camera and editing software, there isn’t much that we need for better photos, although many like to invest in lighting and tripods. We cover a bit of that in the next section.
For the “I just want to take better pics of my fur baby” crowd
Some of us just want to showcase our puppers or felines in the comfort of home, while others want to get action shots in the great outdoors. Both require just a little forethought, but anyone can make these happen if they do a little bit of necessary prep work.
Indoor portraits don’t require special equipment, but a few minor investments can be helpful if this is going to be an ongoing project for the entire fur family. Consider investing lighting, instead of relying on whatever lamps we happen to have in the house. For pet portrait lighting tips, this video can be a great starting point. There’s also quite a bit of detail in this piece, including lighting placement, types of lights, and how to get the best light for the type of photo we’re trying to make.
There are also tripods to shop for. Tripods are inexpensive and easy to use. Some pros end up with a few different tripods after a while. Go for versatile for the first one. Meaning, choose something that will collapse down, but can also reach at least eye level. After that, those of us who collect more equipment may opt for a monopod, something with flexible legs, and other options.
Indoor portraits also require a few extras like backdrops, props, squeaky toys, treats, and patience. It can be fun to try a few different backdrops, rather than set our hearts on just one. While we can practice with a plain wall in the background, the best backdrops are the ones we create and can control. Plan on keeping the hair rollers close. Use clips to adjust the fabric. And we can test different colors with different lighting to make our doggo and feline friend look their best.
Outdoor portraits and action shots are typically fan favorites on Instagram, and anywhere we want to show off our fur babies. While we may not be working with lights, lighting still matters. It’s a good idea to plan the time of day so shadows will be behind our subject, rather than on their faces. Choosing bright direct light is the best place to begin because it offers the most even, dependable light. Then we can move to places like underneath trees, patios, and along fence lines, where the light is dappled or inconsistent.
This is the best time to get to know our cameras, or camera phones, if that’s what we’re using. Explore settings like flash, portrait, and burst. The burst setting, for phones that have it, can be perfect for trying to catch the best possible shot while our fur baby is in motion because it takes a burst of photos in succession. There are apps that will allow us to play with the aperture, shutter speed, and other standard settings our camera phones come with. Don’t worry about filters, initially. These are things we can add to our favorite photos, rather than trying to wrangle the best shot plus the right filter. Take a look at these articles for iOS apps and android apps worth checking out.
Tripods may be helpful on an outdoor excursion, but selfie sticks can also be a great option. They’re inexpensive for those who just want a better angle. There are also more expensive ones for those who want a few extras like stabilization, extra-long reach, and long-lasting battery power.
Finally, we may not be able to control as much of the setting in the great outdoors, but we can do our best to capture and keep our fur baby’s attention. We should all plan on bringing toys, squeakies, treats, and all the patience we can muster. Getting great photos, especially in the beginning, is all about being flexible and taking as many pics as we can.
The final item we all need, whether we’re photographing feline friends or canine companions are treats. Good treats. The kinds of treats that our fur baby won’t get tired of, but are low-calorie, so they don’t ruin their diets, and all-natural so they won’t upset their tummies. EcoTreats is the answer. They’re all-natural, low-calorie, delicious to dogs and cats, and wallet-friendly. Use EcoTreats for all your photoshoots. You and your cat- and canine-companions will be insta-famous in no-time.
Tune in to the next in our series for the best pro tips to next-level your pet photography game.