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Give your pets a photo makeover with these tips from Adobe

In celebration of today being National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, the Adobe Lightroom team has partnered with photographer duo JUCO to give spcaLA‘s shelter pets a total photo makeover as a part of a project titled “Picture Me Rescued.” Photos of cats and dogs dominate feeds on social media, but the one place you won’t usually find high-quality pet photos are in the profile pic section of animal rescue shelters.

While JUCO completely transformed these photographs for spcaLA, you don’t have to be a pro photographer to get similar results. Below are a few tips from Theron Humphrey of This Wild Idea, as well as Bryan O’Neil Hughes, Director of Product Management CC Platform and Services for Adobe.

Pet relationships

“My relationship with Maddie is built on time — it’s not like I just happened to adopt the perfect dog,” Humphrey says. “It’s been a lot of work over the years to build that trust. Part of the reason I’m able to get great photos of Maddie is because I’ve established a relationship with her that’s within the parameters of the world she understands.

“Almost all my photos are created when I’ve been inspired by something Maddie does organically, and I want to recreate that moment. Part of it is building a long-term relationship with Maddie based on trust and training. But it’s also operating within her normal parameters of life.”

In the field

There’s a few things to keep in mind when photographing your pet on-the-go.

“If you’re hiking or participating in other athletic activities with your dog, I recommend setting a slow shutter speed to create motion blur or light trail effect while capturing a fast-moving subject,” says Hughes. To freeze the movement of the same subject in your photo, you can set a fast shutter speed. To adjust shutter speed in the Lightroom CC in-app camera, tap the Sec icon in PRO mode.”

In terms of composition, it’s important to not only showcase the pet, but also the scene around them. Humphrey recommends a wide-angle lens for this.

“Scale is a really cool thing you can show when you incorporate your pet into a landscape photo. A wide-angle lens — not ultra-wide, but enough to get a sense of place — is always a good approach to landscapes,” says Humphrey. “In the shot, you might have either yourself or the animal silhouetted and slightly off to the side can show that scale.”

Pet portraits

We all know that pets can be a bit excited when they’re in new places, and don’t want to stand still.

“While training and building trust with your pet is important, when it comes to getting the shot, you’re typically trying to remove or create a distraction,” says Hughes. You might use a ball or treat above the lens to capture their attention or motivate them to strike a certain pose. Pets are likely to move around since you can’t easily communicate that you need them to pose –so, make sure you’re using a high shutter speed (1/250s or above) to prevent blur. If you don’t have control of this, or if you’re shooting on your phone, find or create more light to get the same result.”

Adds Humphrey, “So often, the things I’m asking her to do are the things she would do if she was left to herself. She’s also very food-motivated, so I’m able to use food to capture her attention toward the camera and offer treats as a thank you for working together.”

Check out the below video for more about the “Picture Me Rescued” project and a few more tips.

Want to learn more about Adobe’s partnership with spcaLA and JUCO? Visit the Adobe Blog.

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