A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of doing a photo shoot with a friend and talented fellow photog Ruby Byrne of Ruby Byrne Photography here in San Antonio. We were booked to shoot some fashion sets with some very talented models, Natalia Madrigal, Rita Nova AND from America’s Next Top Model Sara Longoria!
I know some of you are asking “But Abe, you do pet photography” well…that is just one facet of my skill set. I am, in effect, a portrait photographer. By that I mean that I specialize in capturing portraiture, be it a pet or a person, model or bride, graduate or child. That being said, what’s the difference? Glad you asked…
When it comes to making a portrait of either a pet or a person, there is very little difference. The main difference is that you can direct a person on how you want them to pose or model. Um…that hasn’t worked for me yet when it comes to directing a pet they pretty much tell you what they want to do, you follow. However, sometimes, when you are working with talented models such as ANTM model Sara Longoria, you can also follow as they change their pose ever so slightly. It’s a sort of dance the photographer and model do, and WOW is it fabulous!
With a pet, you are at their beck and call. You have to continually watch them through the lens and see their personality emerge, then you have to know when to snap the shutter and capture it. In order to accomplish this, you have to sit and wait. You have to have A LOT of patience. You have to enjoy watching and being with your subject. The only dance is the dance the pet is doing, you are just there to enjoy the show and hopefully get the shot that shows who they are.
The only other difference I can think of, and it somewhat pertains to the aforementioned, with pets, you have to be calm! On a fashion shoot, or a wedding, the mood is exhilarating…go go go! If there are several models, you have to get one ready, get her on set, then while she’s getting her shots in, the other one is getting changed, hair and make up done, then switch models, change location, yada yada yada. As such, with weddings (especially when I am scheduled all day) it’s get to the salon, get those shots, get to the church/chappel/ceremony area, get in position, make sure second shooter is in position, switch positions for next stage of ceremony, get to reception/reception hall, take pics of family…you get the picture (pun intended).
You cannot, nor do you have to be, on the “go go go” with pets. In fact, it behooves you to be in a relaxed, calm frame of mind. So, even the dress attire is more casual. You almost have to be non-present to accomplish what you are there to do. Yes, at first the pet is going to want to know who is invading their space. But as they get used to you, they let loose and let you see who they truly are.
Other than those differences, there really is no other distinction in creating the portrait. You have to have proper lighting. You have to know your subject and what your final product is going to be. You kinda have to have some assistance in either moving your light, doing hair and makeup, distracting or getting the pet’s attention, giving them treats (both models and pets 😉 ) so that you can focus primarily on taking the picture. All the technical aspects HAVE to be there regardless of who you are shooting. A portrait is a portrait regardless of your subject.