Photographing family and many pets!!!

Discussion in 'The Aspiring Professionals Forum' started by heidiwags90, Dec 31, 2015.

  1. heidiwags90

    heidiwags90 TPF Noob!

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    Hey all! This is my first post. I have just started my photography business and have a session on Saturday. This session involves four (human) family members and 5 dogs and 2 cats! I'm really at a loss of how I am going to accomplish getting some good shots! I don't have ANY experience with this kind of situation. So far I have done pretty simple family photos and newborn/kid sessions, senior pictures, that sort of thing. Does anyone have any advice or tips? I really could use some suggestions. Another problem I'm running into is (since i'm just starting out and using a tripod my dad bought years ago) the tripod I have only stands at about 5ft. No one looks good from a low angle so I'm a bit worried about trying to focus on that many faces while just holding my camera in hand. So suggestions on that would be appreciated as well. Thank's ya'll, Happy New Year!


     
  2. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    A few thoughts:
    1) Do the pets actually get along with each other. It's nice to have a family photo with all the pets, unless the cats hate the dogs and you get problems. Do split things up if that is the case otherwise you're just inviting trouble.

    2) Be prepared to pause things for a while, sometimes some pets (like rather silly huskies) get the idea that they don't want to sit down and face the same way as everyone else; and if you push the issue too much all you get is a worried looking dog/cat and a worried looking person trying to smile whilst holding on. Keep things relaxed and don't be afraid to move onto something else or pause things to let everyone settle down.

    3) A few dog treats or squeaky toy, or a clicker or a rattle or something to draw animal attention toward the camera. Don't over-use it and if using treats do check with the owners if its ok first. In general this is what you use a moment before you hit the shutter so that the animals are looking up at the camera not every other direction.

    4) If things don't work as a group break it down into smaller ones; someone holding their favourite cat; etc... You're still getting the shots but you're breaking it into more manageable groupings if the larger setup just isn't working.

    5) Animals which are tired tend to be a lot easier to work with. Especially for dogs if its possible have them go out on a walk first. That way they have the edge taken off their bounce and are more apt to want to sit or lay down and rest. If they are full of energy and bouncing around sure you can get some great interaction shots, but a sit down shot might not be very easy.

    6) Tape. If you've got cables to flashes or other things around tape the cable down. This helps avoid trips and tugs and pulls that can send gear crashing down. Similarly keep an eye on things if you're using light stands, sometimes a weight or two at the bottom or just something around the base helps avoid it being hit or knocked over.

    7) You shouldn't have any problems hand holding; shoot with a bit of frame to spare around the shot so that you've got some room to rotate it a little if you're not perfectly aligned; but otherwise for a sit-down shot you should easily be able to get enough shutter speed to hand hold; if you're using flash as the main light source then it really shouldn't be a problem.

    Even if the pets are really well trained its going to be tricky; take your time and don't panic.
     
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  3. JoeW

    JoeW Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Overread is pretty much spot-on. A few other tips:

    1. I find the pet photos tend to work best where they come off as candids (human interacting with pet) rather than a pose b/c it's so tricky to get all of the critters focused at the same time.

    2. Get a squeaky toy. Squeak it and then shoot right away. That will get the dog's attention.

    3. Overread is so accurate about animal focus. So do some shots with the animals and people...and then let the critters go eat or play and just shoot people (or some smaller group/paired/individual shots) and then re-assemble. The animals will need breaks or they start to get wanderlust and then the people are fighting to control the critters and it all looks forced.
     
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  4. imagemaker46

    imagemaker46 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Admitting that you're at a loss is self defeating. You have decided to run a photo business and unless you want it to fail before you get any traction, stop deciding you can't do a shoot. Without being too harsh, you really don't come across as being experienced enough to start a business.

    If you are lucky enough to get a couple of the dogs looking your direction and possibly one cat you should call it a success, the people will be looking at the animals trying to get them looking in the right direction and not looking at you. It's more important to get the people looking at you, think of it as a four person shoot, let the animals go nuts, you may end up with a more natural image. Will you be setting up lights, or using the pop up flash on your camera? If you are settings up lights, tape the legs to the floor, with that many dogs there is a chance of things getting knocked over.

    I agree with what Overread has laid out.
     
  5. gsgary

    gsgary Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Have a packet of tic tac's in your pocket just before you press the shutter give the packet a shake
     
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  6. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    You will do great. Make sure you got light, stop the camera down for the group shots, use the tripod where applicable, and have fun, your in control!
     
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  7. dennybeall

    dennybeall No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Take a lot of shots and Photoshop the good parts together...........just don't tell anyone!
     
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  8. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Photoshopping a composite together is possible BUT you've actually got to plan and light it really well to get it to work otherwise it will look fake and people don't like fake that they can see is fake
     
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  9. Shades of Blue

    Shades of Blue No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Start with a group shot with out the pets, then add pets as they wish. Branch off from there and get shots of couples, pets and owners, and individual shots. I did a family shot over Christmas (my family) which consisted of 7 people and 2 dogs. These dogs were small enough to be held so the shot didn't turn out too bad.

    I'm not much of a pet photographer because I'm not an animal person...animals ignore me lol.
     
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  10. heidiwags90

    heidiwags90 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks everyone! These were all awesome tips. Just an update if anyone is wondering, the session was very interesting. It ended up only being four dogs and one kitten and the pets actually didn't turn out to be the difficult part. The difficult part was that they wanted to do the session on a red couch in front of their burgundy curtains in a room with no natural lighting. I explained the colors may clash and that it would be better if we had more natural light but they were set on that area. It was all very casual including their attire which included (but was not limited to) ripped t-shirts, dirty jeans and one neon yellow sweatshirt, which is fine if that is what they are comfortable in, it just added to the challenge of it all which is fine too! We did end up getting a few shots but I ended up only being there for half the time I expected (they weren't enthusiastic about moving around and trying different poses), so I only charged them half of what they were expecting.

    @imagemaker46 sorry if you misunderstood me, I never "decided" I couldn't do the shoot. Had that been the case, I would not have come here looking for help, and I would not have agreed to do the shoot if I felt like I wasn't experienced enough or up for the task. I don't think the fact that I've never photographed a family of four and seven pets disqualifies me from being able to run a business, everyone has to start somewhere. Right now I am at the stage where I've just created a website and am starting to get a local following. Maybe we have different ideas of what a "business" means, right now to me it means I've starting getting requests for photo shoots from friends and friends of friends and other people in my area. I'm charging a very very low price for what I have been told and consider myself to be high quality photos because yes, my business is new. I just wanted to make myself clear on all of that but I do appreciate your other suggestions.
     
  11. Shades of Blue

    Shades of Blue No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Getting started in this business is very difficult, as I've been only at it for 2 months and I can tell it's going to be tough. You can't help how your subjects dress, act during the shoot, nor can you control their expectations or lack thereof. You did the right thing in that you were catering to what the client wanted and was willing to do. Your only mistake in my eyes was only charging half. Don't base your session entirely on time. I have a base charge that covers an hour. If I'm less than an hour, I still get the base fee. I also make it known up front that if we go over an hour and a half, that I add an additional $25. I'm not going to go nuts over a shoot that lasts an hour and 10 minutes, but you get the idea.

    You can get a feeling for how long shoots are going to go by the type of shoot. Outdoor shoots take longer because there is much more places to pose, longer walk times, setup, ect ect. With indoor or home shoots, you will be confined to 1-2 rooms and possible a few outdoor shots. If I had a group wanting shots in the park, I would charge more than for a single family.

    My latest shoot was indoors at a birthday party for a lady I work with. There were 25 people and I took a few group shots, and then individual family shots. Total shooting time was 40 minutes, but I still charged my standard session rate (with a discount for being a friend).

    Another thing I'm trying is referrals. I'm giving discounted rates to clients who refer people to me, and a discount for new customers. I figure I can live with reduced rates as long as it brings in new clients.
     
  12. imagemaker46

    imagemaker46 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I don't think I misunderstood what you said. After reading how your shoot went I am guessing that you did go into a situation without having any lights, "no natural lighting" Was I correct in assuming you used the single pop up flash on your camera? It's not about running a business, I know all kinds of camera owners that are running a business, it's how professional a person is when running that business. Most own a single camera with the kit lenses that came with it, got business cards, set up a facebook page or ventured into a free web site, watched a few videos, and then decided that was enough to start charging.
    I consider the images I produce as high quality, it has become a blanket term in the photo world, it means very. What is being called an "excellent image" now, would have been considered "good" a few years ago, "great image" now, used to be "mediocre" and "good image" now, used to be garbage.

    What it all comes down to is that your friends and friends of friends are happy with the quality of their photos, it really doesn't matter what some person on a forum says.
     
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