I’ve always taken photos my entire life. I love to scrapbook and record special moments in my life. As I scrapbooked more, I wanted to be able to take better photos. I started volunteering at Pet Helpers, an animal shelter in Charleston, SC. I was taking photos of the dogs for the website. I wanted to have a sharper image and more control of the type of photo I wanted, so I decided to upgrade from my digital point-and-shoot camera to a Canon rebel. I then upgraded from the standard lens it came with to a 35mm fixed lens! I love it.
Photographing kids and pets is not easy. I’ve learned with youngsters, you have to earn their trust. No matter how outgoing they are, most still have a warm-up process with new people. I like to get them in an environment where they are comfortable like a park and just let them play and not try too many poses. With dogs, treats are king! Working with animals at a shelter, not all know how to sit and many are very timid. The goal is the capture the dogs personality and make them look as adorable (and adoptable) as possible. Again, this usually involves letting them play in the yard or a really good handler. Plan to take a hundred photos and have a handful turn out! And have a good cloth to wipe the doggie licks off your lens!
If you don’t like to have your photo taken, it’s going to show! That’s why I like to try to get my subjects in a place where they are typically comfortable in to begin with. Think about the photo as a “memory moment” and not a “photo.” And you don’t have to look at the camera for it to be a great photo. You may find interacting with something or someone is easier. Just let the photographer capture you in your element and moment.
I consider myself an aspiring photographer still! There is so much to learn. You must know your camera! No matter how great your camera is, if you don’t know how to manipulate the settings, you won’t be able to get the shot you want. Pay attention to the frame. What’s in the background? Is it distracting? Does it make sense with the photo? Practice. Practice. Practice and have fun!
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