Love your pets so much you just have to share photos of them to the world? We caught up with Pavel Kasianov (owner of cat twins Iriss and Abyss) to learn some top tips when photographing pets...
The world over, people are obsessed with pets; cute ones, unusual ones, even outright ugly ones. No matter the animal or breed, people just love to photograph them and share them with the world. But your pet is different, right? Yours has that special something. That X Factor. That star quality.
If you’re looking to make your cat, dog or tarantula ‘Insta-famous’, look no further; we’ve got all the tips you need to take amazing pet photos, courtesy of Catstagram sensation Pavel Kasianov…
The eyes have it
Living in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, Pavel Kasianov has built quite the following on Instagram (189k followers) thanks to his love for – and skill at photographing – totally adorable twin cats Iriss and Abyss.
Straight off the bat you can see why these two cats grab people’s attention. Look at those eyes! They’re what’s called heterochromatic eyes, with one eye one colour and the other eye another colour. In this instance, one’s blue and the other is green – in both cats! No, we’ve never seen it before, either.
But, while having an unusually-striking pet is always going to help you get a fair amount of attention online, there’s still plenty you can do to share your favourite animal’s good side – heterochromatic eyes or not.
Get a “good camera”
Pavel uses a couple of different cameras for his photos, and which one he uses depends on the moment. For anything off-the-cuff, he relies on his iPhone 8, but says that any phone with “a good camera” should do the trick.
Often, in photography, it’s fairly typical to make use of a tripod or an external light source to steady the hand and to illuminate the subject more, but Pavel suggest this isn’t always needed: “There is nothing better than natural lighting,” he proclaims. His tip? If you intend to capture your pet’s beauty, do it on a bright day, not a miserable gloomy one. Unless you’re going for moody and atmospheric, of course.
Crucially, though, Pavel says you don’t need an expensive DSLR to take great pet shots. Other than his trusty iPhone 8, he doesn’t use any other hardware when snapping photos of Iriss and Abyss with his phone – which he actually thinks puts the cats at ease. “With a lot of hardware, pets can feel uncomfortable,” Pavel explains.
“The best pictures are taken when there is a connection between the animal and their owner. It also depends on the pet’s character. The pictures where you can capture their unique characteristics are the best ones,” says Pavel.
But surely there’s more to it? You bet there is. The rest is all down to technique, editing, and patience.
Pavel’s top tips
Pavel’s number one piece of advice is that you need to “love your pet, and let them trust you. Otherwise, the whole process of taking photos will annoy and scare them.”
This, of course, make absolute sense. If your pet isn’t really happy with you holding your phone up to its face all day long, then there’ll be no chemistry, and they won’t do what you want it to in front of the lens.
We doubt that the photo above could’ve been taken – without clawing! – had Iriss and Abyss not felt at ease in Pavel’s arms.
“If your pet is in his, or her, comfort zone then the picture is going to be interesting, and there will be more chances to take a perfect shot,” says Pavel.
Naturally, taking photos of animals can be unpredictable. “It can be really hard,” explains Pavel. “If Iriss and Abyss are in a bad mood, I hold off any attempts to take a picture. I might try to play with them and try to make them be interested in something in my hands to catch their attention to the camera, but treats are really helpful.”
There we have it. The pro’s secret is treats! Works for pets, children, and adults alike.
Ok, so you’ve taken a pretty good shot of a temporarily camera-happy pet. Now what? Edit, of course…
Add some polish
Like most pro Instagrammers, Pavel uses a number of apps to polish his photos, but suggests that “Snapseed is really cool.” The photo editing app by Google, available on both iOS and Android, is a firm favourite with heaps of mobile photographers, offering umpteen editing tools – from basics like contrast and saturation, to experimental tools like the ability to actually edit people’s head position, post shot.
“There are a lot of apps out there right now, and it’s difficult to say which is best. But I use apps to make the picture brighter if the lighting isn’t great.” Again: when you’ve got the right apps, there’s no extra hardware necessary.
Put simply? If you want to take share-worthy photos of your pets, you need a decent smartphone camera, natural lighting, a love and respect for your pets, and to do it on their terms! Happy snapping.
Ready for a close-up?… Check out @Nadelinde’s tips on macro photography.