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How to Photograph Kids and Their Pets

Updated on February 10, 2014
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Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0 | Source
CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

When it comes to kids and pets, can you think of a more entertaining and pleasant photographic project to undertake, not to mention one of the most difficult and the one that will probably test the limits of your patience to the breaking point.

This theme is one of the most in demand photographic projects that a photographer can do. Retailers, greeting cards manufacturers, poster publishers, almost every single advertiser and all of the major photography stock houses are always eagerly looking for new and fresh images of children, pets and the two combined.

So although the theme is extremely popular, you can imagine the supply of images. Suffice it to say that the competition is fierce at the very least.

One of the ways to distinguish your photographs from a large number of others is to record images of children while they are completely transfixed in an interaction with their pets. The pets are whatever the child chooses it to be; from dogs to hamsters or lizards, frogs or basically anything really, what counts is how they pair up well together; their mutual relationship.

The project is difficult not because of a lack of subjects, which there isn't, but children have very little patience for sitting still and posing for you, at least for the most part. And the same holds very true for pets. Photographing these two subjects together can become nearly impossible.

However, if the kids are fully immersed in an interaction or play with their pets then your work is that much easier. You will need or at least should consider using a long lens so that it puts you some distance away from your subjects and therefore you do not become a distraction and the kids and pets are less aware of your presence.

Pick a location where they will feel comfortable. Their home is an ideal setting. Try to entice them into interacting with their pets by asking questions about it; why did they choose a guinea pig instead of a dog for example, and so on. Soon they will forget about you and begin interacting with it. Let them express themselves all they want about their experiences with their pets.

Take this opportunity to do some shots and capture their proud expressions and how their eyes "light" up when they are sharing their experiences with their chosen "friend".

You can take some photos of the kids with their pets in poses, but limit these to very few lest they get tired and bored with the demands that are usually associated with the set up and while you try to accommodate them until you find a suitable and photogenic pose.

The best images have always been the ones where the subjects are unaware or choose to ignore the photographer's presence. Do a variety of angles and perspectives such as full body, and close ups of the faces.

Be mindful not to interact too much with the kid's pets, with some exceptions like dogs or cats, most will become rather shy or nervous when a stranger is introduced into the mix.

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Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

Try if at all possible to have your kid subjects wear colorful clothing, but do not insist if they refuse or do not feel comfortable. Facial features and the interaction is more important than what the kids are wearing. Consider using a monochromatic medium for some of the shots. Black & white film has an appeal that is pleasing to a lot of people.

Use the outdoors whenever you can, include green areas, flowers or any other interesting elements to add some liveliness to the entire scene, but be mindful not to include too much of these outside elements or this will serve as a distraction to an audience. Even letting the kids choose where the photos will be recorded with some guidance from the photographer is sometimes a good idea.

Avoid flash if you can. Using flash reminds them that you are there to take their photographs and this may work against you. Their expressions and behaviors will not only appear more relaxed but will be genuine once they don't focus on your presence and it's the same with the pets. Having your subjects participate in the decision making process lets them feel important and take "ownership" of the process.

Try to encourage the kids to do various activities with the pets such as feeding, cleaning of quarters, regular play time, resting, sleeping. Some of the more emotive images come from samples of a child sleeping with the pet next to them and who is also sleeping.

Photographs like this reminds everyone of the innocence in all of us. Images of babies are always winners and if their pets are included that makes them even more irresistible. Do make a concerted effort to record such photographs.

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CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Ladybird33: Thank you

    • Ladybird33 profile image

      Ladybird33 6 years ago from Fabulous USA

      Very good hub. I believe it's important that children have pets, the understanding of caring for a pet, having unconditional love and support is so important. Plus, the aspect of fun and crazy activities for our children. Enjoyed your hub.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Lesleysherwood, FloraBreenRobinson & Cardisa: thank you all

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I don't have children. I have a cat and I have lots of photographs of her.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      This should be fun. It's always interesting to see kids with their pets, so photographing them shouldn't be too hard.

    • profile image

      Lesleysherwood 6 years ago

      Thank you so much for that. I was doing the complete opposite. I will try that next time.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Lesleysherood: Thank you. A simple solution to eliminate "red eyes" is to aim at the top of the head or at the chin or even bounce the light. That way you eliminate light bouncing from the back of the retina which is what cases "red eye" due to blood vessels which are found at the back of the eye.

    • profile image

      Lesleysherwood 6 years ago

      What brilliant advice. I find it so hard photographing children and animals and yet they make the best photographs. I was cat sitting last week and for the life of me I could not stop her eyes from glowing at the flash. She was such a pretty cat and my pictures didn't do her justice. I still uploaded them to FB though. lol.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Lynn & Random; thank you ladies, I'm really glad that both you gals enjoy my work

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Another great hub topic. I've had a couple black cats over the years. They can be difficult to photograph. Some of my favorite photos of myself when I was little are with my cats. My husband and I don't have kids yet so we take a lot of pictures of our cat. :)

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 6 years ago

      Nothing better to come across than some posers. LOL!! My problem is getting my knees to work so I can get down to their level. Great tips!!!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Faithful Daughter: Thank you,yes I have found that some pets have their own personalities much like we do,I have even noticed the same in wildlife as some will pose & others will run like there is no tomorrow.

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Thank you for the wonderful tips. I find the best photographs come from children and pets, only because they are so natural, however, I agree that these two subjects can be very difficult to capture on camera. And I love all the photos you post in your hubs. It gives this novice tips on photography that will eventually be used in my oil paintings.

      To share a personal story, I had two dogs with different behavior when it came to the camera and me. One would run in the other direction as soon as she saw me with the camera, the other one would actually pose. I would say, "Ok, let's take your picture, siiiiit, good boy!" and he would look directly at the camera and sit still until I was done (lol).

      By the way, I used to live in Miami a few years back. Now I live in SW Florida.

      Voted up and useful.