Half-week homework: Cats & Dogs!

Snow-mageddon is upon us here in Colorado, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with your camera hunkered down at home. Make sure your gear isn’t freezing out in your car and grab a handful of treats: this week’s challenge is to capture quality portraits of your cats and dogs.

A full 68% of American households have a pet, but I’d wager that a far smaller percentage have photos of their furry companions to accompany portraits of the bipedal members of the family. Here are a few tips you can bear in mind as you remedy the situation:

  • Shift your perspective. You can get good pet pics from above, but it’s hard to overcome the “snapshot” look without getting down on their level.
  • Limit flash usage. No matter how famous they may be, animals have a hard time understanding bright bursts of light. Aside from ruining your dog’s day, you run a high risk of ruining your pictures with “pet eye,” the usually-green analogue of red eye. Because their pupils tend to be quite large, it can be even more of a hassle to edit out than the human version—better to skip it altogether. If you need to manipulate your lighting, a good alternative is a simple reflector kit, the secret weapon of any natural-light photographer.
  • Be patient. As any pet owner knows, whipping out a camera is a sure-fire way to entice your pet to come closer… and closer… and… bonk! You may need to hang out in the room for a little until Felix gets bored, or enlist a helper to make sure that he isn’t too interested in what you’re doing. Once he starts playing with a toy or lays down on a bed contentedly, your golden window of opportunity opens up.
  • Watch for moments of extreme personality. Everyone loves cute pictures of kittens or puppies (or at least one of the two), but as an owner, you’ve almost certainly catalogued every way that your little one is completely different from others’. With luck or practice, you can capture one of these moments and enshrine their unique lovability forever. Emotional subject matter aside, these also tend to be some of the most interesting images you can produce. See, for example, the way Pixie sneezed and turned into a demon (4th down on the left, below) or Ranger intensely contemplating the concept of food, to her right.

Can’t wait to see your images! Please share them on our Facebook page or to Instagram with the tags #mymikescamera #halfweekhomework. Let me know what challenges you encounter, too, or if you have any more hot tips for pet photography. Happy Wednesday, and stay safe out there!


    1. Bit late on the reply (I apologize), but yes, we closed all of our Colorado locations at noon. Weather permitting, we’ll be open again at 9:00 tomorrow.

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