If you’re looking for a way to brush up on your animal photography skills, volunteering with your local shelter or rescue is a great way to start! Many of these organizations don’t have the staff to take quality photographs of the dogs and cats, but these images make a huge difference in helping animals get adopted. I recently spent some time with my friends at the Nashville Humane Association, taking photographs and getting a lot of sloppy puppy kisses in return.
Since shelters can be a difficult environment for some dogs and cats, I certainly don’t want to further stress the animals by using flashing lights. With this in mind, Photoflex StarLite constant lights are perfect because they provide reliable, steady lighting. For a quick and simple set up, I like to put an OctoDome on a c-stand stand in the front. If you’re using a lighter stand, be sure to weight it down, because an excited pup can easily knock over your gear! In addition, I use a WhiteDome soft box on the floor so I can move it around as needed, since the dogs don’t always sit where you’d like them to. For this photo session, we set up everything in a quiet room and had shelter volunteers bring in each dog or cat, one at a time. Having treats and toys for the animals will help get their attention, and it’s great way to add a little enrichment to their day!
I personally prefer shooting with a more shallow depth of field, keeping my shutter speed around 1/250, which should be fast enough to freeze a wagging tail or an animal who refuses to sit perfectly still. Above all, I always focus on the eyes. I make sure to photograph the animals at eye level, and when editing, I take an extra minute to clean up any gunk around their eyes. The reason is that the eyes are going to be the most important part of that photo. When someone sees that image and looks into the dog’s eyes, you want them to be moved enough to head out to the shelter and bring home their new best friend. So get out there to help some animals, and add some new photos to your pet portfolio, too!
Amiee Stubbs has been interested in photography since the age of 10 when she received her first Polaroid Sun 600 camera. Dividing her time between shooting live music events and pet photography, Amiee provides photography services to animal rescues and animal welfare organizations. A Nashville native, Amiee and her husband share their home with 6 dogs: Halpert, Beesley, Eva, Buster, Burton and Periwinkle. See more of Amiee’s work work at her website.