Courtesy of Vincent Lagrange
To take great photos of pets, you might think you need a fancy camera, a powerful lens, a battery of lights, and a bag full of treats. But Vincent Lagrange, a photographer specializing in animal portraits, says stillness is your most powerful tool.
“I make sure the setting and decor is calm with as few distractions as possible. Cut out all kinds of noise to create a calm atmosphere,” he told Daily Paws. “I also make sure I can protect myself with curtains if I really need them in order to get the right attention.”
Lagrange, originally from Belgium, is strongly influenced by fine art photography. And while he captured a few celebrities and majestic architectural forms in his day, his focus is now on pets and wildlife. “I used to photograph people and actors, but I felt a lot happier portraying animals and printing them in a size that makes humans feel small,” he says. “I like the idea of transforming the world this way, animals get more attention than humanity today.”
He says one of the reasons he enjoys working with animals is that they don’t need makeup or a stylist, they’re just pure. He encourages pet parents to strive to capture other emotions with their pets that they don’t normally have.
Lagrange’s ongoing series, The Human Animal Project, was inspired by his beloved Belgian shorthair cat, Dwiezel. The project raises awareness of both wild and domestic animal causes. His Instagram feed is filled with animals in the studio, his travels, and his favorite pets at home: Ray, a Belgian griffon; Django, a Himalayan, and Polla, a saved Persian.
In his book 2021, Dogs: human animals, it’s easy to see why the stillness aspect works to create great looking photos of pets. His advice? Patience.
“Patience is the key to this process, especially for me, as I determine my focus manually. Nothing in my process happens automatically, ”he says. “I like the form of a time-consuming profession – that’s also why you get great results. It’s kind of yoga for me.”
5 pro tips for taking great pet photos
1. Make your pet comfortable
Lagrange says that taking great animal photos starts with the relationship between you and the animal. “Their comfort is one of the most important things to be able to make a beautiful portrait. It is also the case with people: the chemistry between the model and the photographer has to be good.” If your pet is not in the mood, wait and try again another time. They always have a say in this process and might delight you with other aspects of their character when they’re ready.
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2. Use soft lighting
Then use soft lighting, whether indoors or outdoors. “I recommend not to use a flash because it is unnatural to have a flash in the eye every time,” he says. “Therefore, I use a soft daylight lamp so that the tones are all very nice as well.” This one or maybe this one might be suitable and is not too expensive.
3. Hold the treats early
And it might surprise you, but Lagrange doesn’t use treats, at least never at first! “When it gets really tough, I start with the smells, the sounds, the wind and my own sound database.” It will bark, howl, and purr if necessary to get a more authentic reaction. He thinks giving food right away tires out and isn’t interested in shooting an animal, but he’s not shy about giving pieces of lightly grilled roast beef when it’s time to bring a model. harder to action!
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4. Don’t worry about the equipment
As a professional, Lagrange uses Leica photographic equipment, but with these tips you will have just as much luck with your photos of pets using some of the phone camera options available now.
5. Have fun!
Most of all, just enjoy spending time with your precious pet in a fun and original way, letting the photoshoot go naturally. Lagrange says there’s no way to predict how long it will take to get the desired results. “It really depends. Sometimes it’s done in an hour, but sometimes I spend a whole day there. I don’t push the animals and make sure they’re still comfortable.”