Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Photography Assignment #3 ~ Portrait of a Pet

The idea of taking someone's portrait can be a bit intimidating for a beginner or amateur photographer. Luckily, there are ways to practice with live subjects, provided that you aren't allergic to the furry or feathered.
Ruffio & Watts

Now I know that it isn't entirely the same as taking human portraits because you can't really "pose" a cat or a dog to help accentuate their best features. For example, pets won't cooperate if you ask them to tilt their chin at a 90-degree angle while turning their head slightly to the right to hide that double-chin. Having a moving, living, breathing subject is very different than still-life. They don't always cooperate. Sometimes they break out into wrestling.

Wrastlin' Kats

But the practice does accentuate your powers of observation with a live subject and the different dynamics that could include. How the subject interacts with its environment and how environment affects the visual mood. How a light source from the left casts a shadow on the right, adding depth and contrast. How just even slight changes in expression can entirely change the feel of the picture. Those are just a few examples, of course, but you get what I mean.

Two Kitty Paws

The best part? If session doesn't go well or if the practice portaits don't turn out, the "client" won't care. And, if your subject is your own pet, you can practice, practice, practice until you start liking the photos that you see!


  1. excellent work, the kittens are cute. I've tried practicing portraits with our dog. He simply gets up and hides behind the couch. happy new year!

  2. I've been really lucky lately with pets, these portraits were easy as the kittens were all-too interested in the camera. So much, I couldn't get any more shot of them playing because they stopped to look at the camera when I tried to aim.

  3. Great photos Sam. Two Kitty Paws is my favorite.

  4. Thanks :) They were so adorable and fun to work with. Maybe I could be a pet photographer when I grow up! ;)