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Chapter 4 Assignments

Discuss the shoot

Communication makes any shoot work best, and photographing pets is no different. When you’re photographing someone else’s pets, create a worksheet for the shoot, and then fill it out when discussing with the owner what they want from the shoot. Include the number of animals, the type of pets, the pets’ names, if the owner wants shots indoors or out, the time of the shoot, and any special details you need to know about the pet. This will help you keep the details straight and plan for the shoot. For example, if you plan on an evening shoot, you need to discuss if the owner should feed the pet before or after the shoot. Which is best will depend on how food motivates the pet or how grumpy it gets when it’s not fed on time. You may need to adjust the shoot accordingly.

Watch Your subjects Carefully

Before you lift the camera to your eye, watch the pet for a few minutes (sometimes longer) to try to get an idea of how they will react to the camera and the shutter noise, and which direction they might move if they decide to run away. This will allow you to be ready when the pet calms down. Also, pay attention to your surroundings with your other eye, especially if another animal is around. Look for signs of stress during the shoot, and check with the owners constantly to see if they are noticing any stress in their pet.

Create a Pre-shoot Checklist

When you’re getting ready for a shoot, make a checklist on a notecard of all the equipment and accessories you might need. This checklist will then help you pack the right gear for the job. In fact, it’s best to make this list when you talk to the owners about what they want from the shoot. For example, if they are looking for a portrait-type photo of their indoor cat, be sure to add flashes, radio triggers, and a softbox to the list. When the shoot is finally scheduled, the list will indicate what you need to bring. Making a list can work for when you take photos of your own pets as well. Knowing the gear needed for a certain type of shot will keep you organized as you set it up.

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