National Pet Day was yesterday (April 11) and what better way to celebrate it than with award-winning pet photography, Elke Vogelsang of @wieselblitz?
Elke has been a full-time photographer, specialising in pet photography since she registered her business in May 2011.
Here are the top five things Elke thinks you should know about getting into the world of photography.
Every pet is different - behaviourally and photogenically
"How you handle your model is the most important part of pet photography," Elke says.
With different breeds of dogs posing challenges and different needs - from a terrier being more likely to prefer physical activity and playing with a ball than a herding dog, Elke believes it's important to gain experience with as many pets as possible and study their behaviour.
"The more time you spend with pets and the more pets you meet, the better your pet pictures will become."
Elke suggests finding pets to study in friends homes, dog training centres, and rescue centres.
It's also important to know how to adapt your camera settings for the dog.
"Knowing how to dial in the settings of your camera is the absolute basics in my opinion."
In her virtual session in The Photography Show, Elke explains that the dog has "a huge influence on our camera capabilities." Elke tells us that the camera has more difficulty focusing when the subject is a brown dog with brown eyes, but an easier subject is a black dog with blue eyes due to the contrast.
Getting the best photos
There's no doubt that pets are unpredictable so to get the best shots, Elke suggests plenty of fun, limited distractions, and a lot of patience.
"Be patient - always. That's the only rule that should never be broken," Elke said.
Elke likes to think of photography sessions as both a bonding experience and entertainment for her and the pets.
She suggests avoided busy parks as it may lead to a hard time to keep the attention of your pet, and says that photographers need to "pay attention to the capabilities of your model."
Know Your Camera
Elke says it is very important to know everything about your camera and be prepared before the shoot.
"Don't bore the dog by fiddling with your camera settings."
As mentioned before, the camera has more difficulty focusing on certain dogs, so it's important to be prepared.
Keep your model calm
It's a good idea to get to know your models and let them know they're in a safe space. It can be for a dog to have a camera in it's face and bright lights.
"Some dogs might find the studio atmosphere to be very scary, therefore it might be better to do the photography shoot outdoors."
When shooting outdoors, Elke uses available light and prefers a overcast day or the shade to avoid harsh shadows.
When shooting in the studio, Elke usually uses a single strobe so the dogs don't get too overwhelmed with bright lights. She also uses reflectors to direct light to the contours of the dog.
"The strobe is capable of high speed synchronisation, which is handy when taking pictures of pets, as you make absolutely sure to freeze the action and can still use available light or continuous light as your model light."
Elke suggests that if your dog is feeling intimidated reward them whilst they acclimatise, allowing your model to link the shutter clicking sounds with a reward. She also suggests frequent breaks
Reward frequently and shoot fast
Elke advises to find out what your model likes best, saying: "some might do anything for treats, others love to release energy with play or by running."
Elke also reminds us that some dogs tire easily, and says to make sure you adapt you session to fir your model's age, health, and fitness.
"My sessions don't last longer than 60 to 90 minutes. I always shoot the portraits at the beginning of my session, because later on the dog might not be able to concentrate anymore and look tired."
"The key is patience, a calm and positive attitude, repetition and lots and lots of bribery."
Elke shoots with the Fujifilm X-T3 and uses prime lenses for outdoor shoots. In the studio, she prefers to use the Fujinon 16-55mm, using the wide-angle range for funny photos, and 55mm for elegant portraits.
Outdoors, she uses a large aperture around 2.8, and for the studio she opts for a large depth of field and f/9 or smaller.
She uses a fast shutter speed and keeps an eye on the ISO to make sure the photos are as clear as possible.
For more about Elke Vogelsang and her pet portraits: