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BenjaminHornePhotography PRO
BenjaminHornePhotography January 10, 2019
OK, this is just.... PERFECT, lol. Shot framing is great, as it's the concept. Needs more Awards, imo

Behind The Lens

Choosing a location where an animal feels secure can make it much easier to get great expressions in a pet portrait. This photo was taken in Banjo's back yard, where he was comfortable and happy.
It was about 5pm, and overcast. We started out with two dogs on the blanket (Banjo and Lola) and were trying to hurry and get the shot before it started raining. When Lola wasn't stealing the bones out of the basket and running away, she was leaving the blanket to lie down next to me - so I finally took a few shots of Banjo on his own. He was a ham!
This image was created with natural/existing light only.
I used my Nikon D800 and 85mm 1.4 to shoot this image. The only other "gear" involved was the handy squeak toy I keep in my camera bag and a few treats.
I'm shooting a "Holiday Dog" photo series for the local online news site, using dogs that belong to local families. This shoot was for the May dog(s), and the idea was two dogs having a Memorial Day picnic. In addition to images of Banjo on his own being an awesome model, I did finally get a shot of Banjo and Lola together which is the image that was ultimately published - but I love this one too!
There was plenty of light to expose the image properly, but it was overcast and flat, and did not match the Memorial Day picnic scene. I decided to use photoshop to add a bit of hazy sunshine to the background of the image to give it more of a happy spring picnic feel.
In my camera bag
I used to feel like I needed to carry every bit of gear I own on every shoot "just in case". Now, for portraits I generally carry my Nikon D800, 85mm 1.4, 50mm 1.8 and extra batteries. Every now and again I will throw in my fisheye, because it's tiny and light so not much trouble even if I never use it. A squeaker is handy for pets and babies, and I have a tiny one that lives in my camera bag.
With pets, you should always expect the unexpected. It's hard to know how they will react when a stranger shows up and points something at them that makes weird noises. I always ask the owner where the dog(s) will be most comfortable, and try to arrange the shoot there. Have the owner on hand to give commands and position/handle the dog, so that all you have to do is worry about your camera and getting the shot. If there is more than one dog, be sure you have more than one helper. Get down on the dogs level - for this shoot that meant I was belly down on the ground. Some dogs are better behaved than others - for those that are a little more difficult, be ready to shoot quick as you may only have a few seconds before the dog gets up to leave. For great expressions, have an assistant make noises with their mouth or squeaker, and of course have plenty of treats on hand to reward your model!

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