As a dog owner, I'd be lying if I said that I don't secretly hold mini photoshoots whenever my dog does pretty much anything. The camera roll on my phone is absolutely jammed full with puppy pics, but they never seem to be that great.
Whippet Snippets Kerry Jordan is a dog photographer extraordinaire. We love to feature her images because like us, she is hound-mad! Her days consist of photographing dogs of all different shapes and sizes, and in varying locations, light and weather conditions. She has kindly given us her top tips on how to photograph your pet, from equipment and incentives, to her own inspirations.
Q: I love taking pictures of my dog, so does it matter what equipment I use?
It honestly depends on how you use it. I started out on a low budget second hand camera and taught myself how to get the best shots. Now that a lot of smart phones have dual lenses to enable you to get that ‘blurred’ background, better quality images are becoming more accessible to people. You can have the most expensive camera on the market, if you don’t know how to use it though then it’s worthless.
Q: What are the basics I should think about when photographing my pet?
Two great things to think about (because there is a lot) is:
1) Are there any distractions in the background, is there a branch coming out of your pets head, or are there a bunch of toys back there. If you can’t move the distracting background, move yourself around a bit!
2) Get low down to your pets level, people often take photographs from a standing position. Take the challenge and see how the perspective changes when you crouch down.
Q: What is key to taking a good animal photo, even as a beginner?
Patience and being alert. Part of my job is recognising when all the elements have come together for a brief period of time and reacting quickly.
Q: What are the difficulties I might face when photographing my animal?
I have just started an online ‘Furdography for Beginners’ course and the first lesson was strengthening the sit and wait command so that that can take a few steps back to photograph your dog. So many people hadn’t thought about this when photographing their dogs, it’s such a simple thing to train and it makes photographing them so much easier.
Q: Should I use treats or incentives?
This is really dependent on the individual pet. For example if a dog can do a good sit and wait, it may be good to have a treat or a toy above the camera so it’s focus is on me. This may not work for cats though! The main thing is, the pet has to be enjoying posing, so if you can help it with incentives then why not! I only use high reward, high quality treats on my shoots so I always have a pocket full of Innocent Hound sliced sausages.
Q: Is weather an important factor in my photos?
I photograph mainly outdoors so light is the most important thing to me. Photographing on sunny days can be difficult as you don’t want the dog to face the sun and be uncomfortable and squinting - luckily I know what to do about this. The other thing is really hot days; in the middle of summer, I will only photograph first thing in the morning or later in the evening so that the dog is comfortable and not panting. This year has been particularly bad for having to reschedule due to rain....apart from when I’m photographing spaniels!
Q: One top tip?
Make sure you and your pet are having fun! Reward your pet for any good behaviour when you are photographing them, whether it’s treats or praise, and they will look forward to doing it again.
Thanks Kerry, for your top tips!
We want to find out more about you and your work- why the name Whippet Snippets?
It actually came about when I was chatting to a mentor about possibly doing something with dogs (as I was shooting weddings at the time). Whippets for obvious reasons, and Snippets as it would be snippets of my life with the hounds - I never imagined that it would become a successful business!
What motivates you to take photos?
Every time I see a landscape by one of the great painters like Turner, it takes my breath away. It’s the same feeling when I walk over the crest of a hill and see a panoramic view. I think that’s what motivates me to include our beautiful countryside in my images. Although saying that, I have the same feeling walking round beautiful old towns too.
Who influences your work?
Elliot Erwitt is a big inspiration - the way he was able to capture dogs ‘in the moment’ is incredible. Other than that, the dogs hugely influence me! My shoots are never in one location because I talk about the hound before hand and we pick a location based on what’s right for the dog. On the actual shoot, the dogs personality influences the type of shots we go for, action shots if it’s playful, or if they adore their human then a lovely interaction shot.
Elliott Erwitt Photography
What do you think makes a good pet photograph?
Personality! I want to see that head tilt, that funny little look, that gleeful chase of the ball.
What goes through your mind when shooting?
I have a mental list of shots that I know I need to get, maybe 10 ‘must haves’, after that it’s instinctive based on the light, season and what’s around me.
Out of all of the photographs you have taken, which is your favourite?
I think the one I love the most is my image of horse leaning over a fence to say hello to Scout. It was completely unplanned and unexpected. A perfect little moment in time.
Where has been your favourite location to shoot?
Oooh tough one! Locally, Hindhead is fantastic as it has a great mix of woodland & heath and some great tree stumps. Abroad, I am desperate to take my hounds to Paris, the light spilling through the narrow streets in autumn is just divine. Or any Parisian hounds who want a photoshoot.....
You can learn more about Kerry's 'Furdography for Beginners' or book your very own photoshoot with her at Whippet Snippets!