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There’s an old adage in show business. And no doubt you’re expecting this article to start with this famous cliché. So let’s not disappoint and mention that some professionals say to never work with children and animals.
Photographing Children and Animals
I’d like to think that this is a bit of a backwards philosophy from a bye-gone age and society is far more progressive now. And when it comes to photography, most people want to capture those magical moments with their family, children and their pets.
Over the years of photographing animals and children I’ve developed my own personal techniques of getting the best out every situation. And key to my approach has always been not forcing the issue.
Animals and children are notoriously uncooperative. Not always, but as a rule you have to expect any kind of hard line attitude to fail.
Even if you do manage to strong arm your subjects into compliance, the chances are that the photography won’t be full of the light and life that you’re so keen to capture.
So how can you manage to get the most out of you shots?
The first step happens even before you’ve put a camera up to your eye. Getting to know, feel and have that basic rapport with an animal or a child is so important.
You have to take the time to talk to them. Get to know them a little. And make them feel as if they can know and trust you.
Of course, it helps in my world that you genuinely love kids. I do have 3 of them. Our world is full of games, fun and laughter. Through thousands of nursery, school and play outings you get to know how to engage kids.
Animals are no different. You have to approach them with a slow and balanced posture in the first instance. Gain trust and say hello. Once they start to know you then that’s when they start to instantly respond to your energy.
That’s why it’s vital that you have a friendly and upbeat energy. Both children and animals respond immediately to good feeling and a positive presence.
If you can make the photoshoot fun and relaxed then that’s going to come across in the image. Remember that it’s your attitude and that guides way more than anything that comes out of your mouth.
Creating an exciting and especially an intriguing feeling can actually be used to control kids and animals.
If they’re waiting to find out what’s round a corner, in a box, or even what the surprise might be later – then that anticipation and potential delight can often lead to some outstanding images full of vitality and colour.
Then when it comes to the shooting I simply say take too many photos. You can’t anticipate a smile, cats are notoriously unpredictable and that expression on a dog’s face that makes you melt inside may only last for half a second.
You can find the magic in the editing suit afterward. Find the picture that speaks to your feelings and you’ll find the shot that hits your audience right where it matters most.
As photographers there’s often the idea that we need to be in control of every moment. Actually one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned with taking shots of animals and children that its often more a case of being in the right place at the right time.
If you want to see how my skill applies to those moments, then simply check out my portfolio and find those photographs that catch you reminiscing about a heartfelt happening or much loved pet.
And if it makes you smile… I know I’ve done my job.