• Tails of Time

Brisbane Pet Photographers Top Tips for Photographing Black Pets!

Those of you with black pets know exactly what I am talking about. You really want to snap a picture of that really adorable thing that they are doing, so you grab your phone and take the picture. Only to then look at tit and see a formless black blob that doesn't look like much at all. Much less your fur-baby. I have booked a fair few sessions now simply because it is hard to take pictures of black pets. I am lucky that my dogs are not entirely black, however I do own a fully black cat. So I personally know the struggle of those phone snaps!

I have put together a few tips for you, that may help increase your phone snap game!

1. Always avoid midday sun.

I know it seems counter intuitive, but it is best to avoid too much light. The best time for any photos (for pets and people alike) is in what photographers refer to as 'the golden hours.' Essentially the hour after sunrise, and the 2 hours or so before sunset. This provides plenty of light, though the sun is lower in the sky and softer, meaning any shadows will be less harsh.

Avoiding the harsh midday sun will avoid large shadows on your pups face.

2. Shade is your friend. This is especially important if you aren't doing any post-processing. I love sunshine, but with a black pet, this is how you end up with a totally overexposed shot. Your camera (or phone) will either meter to the dog, or to the background, leaving the other either under or overexposed. Find some open shade, avoiding bright dappled sunlight spots. This can be under a tree, in the shade of a building etc. Once you are under the shade, face your dog outwards towards the light. This will ensure that there are no shadows on your dog, but that their eyes are still well lit.

Sunny was positioned at the edge of the shadow in the shade of this wall, but faced towards me and the light.

3. Capture their eyes.

Eyes are the window to the soul! The contrast between a black face and brown, gold, green and blue eyes is always stunning. So take the extra effort to make sure you’re capturing them at their best. Shooting from above for the classic 'puppy-dog eye' look is a great technique.

Try and focus on the eyes!

4. Choose your background wisely.

Especially If you are indoors, it is important to think about the background. Because black pets very quickly lose detail, you don't want their environment to be too distracting. Avoid anything too busy or bright and opt for a softer background. Be sure to face your pet towards the light source (so towards a window, the balcony opening etc.) to highlight their features. My example below is a much busier background than I would generally prefer to work with, though it was required in this case- but it's also a great example of why a simple background is often best!

The lighting at this commercial shoot was tricky. but the general rule is to always face the pup towards the light source! *bonus tip: if you have multiple types of light (natural and artificial) it can sometimes help to eliminate one of them- aka turn off those lights!

5. Get creative! No pet is easier to take silhouette photos of than a black one! The trick with silhouette's is ensuring that you put them in an attractive position - usually in profile- so that you will end up with details and a defined and distinctive shape, rather than just a lump.

For silhouettes, you want to expose for the background, and your subject should become totally black!

6. Be prepared for outtakes.

Even as a professional photographer, I very rarely get the shot in the first go. So take a few, and then choose the best one.

You'd be very lucky to get this shot first go!

7. Make sure it is fun for your pet! Plenty of rewards need to be given, or they will very quickly get bored and learn to hate the process of having their photo taken.

Give your pet plenty of breaks, and their favourite things: toys or treats! Our models should always be paid!

If you are still struggling to get pictures of your black pet, I am always here, so just get in touch!

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Located in Brisbane, QLD, Australia. 

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A portion from every Signature Session is donated directly to local animal rescues and international animal aid groups to give animals like my Scrat Cat a second chance at life. Read more about that here.

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