How to tame animals and turn them into professional models: Randal Ford's tips
Photographer Randal Ford -one of the 200 best photographers in the world- believes that every animal has a story to tell. This compassionate vision is at the heart of his Animal Portrait Collection project, a beautiful series that explores the unique personalities and behaviors of the creatures he portrays.
From small dogs to wild tigers, Ford turns them into accurate professional models. These images have been part of media covers such as the prestigious TIME Magazine.
Animal Kingdom is his best-known work by artists and photographers, and undoubtedly, thanks to this, he has gained special international recognition as a professional animal photographer.
The best lenses for pet photography
The lens is a piece of essential photographic equipment when shooting pets; that's why we have selected some of the best lenses for this type of photography because photographing animals is a bit like when you try out online casino in Australia: you never know if you will get lucky or not, but you still try your best!
However, by following these tips, you can do your job as a photographer correctly.
1) 35mm focal length lens with maximum aperture ƒ/1.8
Whatever your camera brands, one of the focal lengths we recommend for pet photography is 35mm. A maximum aperture of f/1.8 produces a perfect low-light photography result. It uses an integrated Nikon coating that reduces flare or ghosting in images.
Its Silent Wave Motor AF focusing system enables fast and quiet focusing, necessary for pet photography. The 35mm focal length matches a 50mm format in FX format, which resembles the angle of view of the human eye giving naturalness to the pet's pictures. In addition, its Integrated Coating System (ICS) improves light transmission and color consistency with reduced flare.
2) 50mm focal length lens with ƒ/1.8 maximum aperture
Nikon or Canon, 50mm lenses are ideal for this type of photography, with a maximum aperture of f/1.8 to f/22 and EF mount/full frame format lens. Moreover, it is a lens that offers a fast and quiet focus, ideal for photographing the animals without distracting them.
It offers a very sharp image and an ideal result even in low light scenes: just what we are looking for in pet photography. It also has a compact and lightweight design, making it a good working tool for sessions with movement, such as those with pets.
3) 85mm focal length lens with ƒ/1.8 maximum aperture
The Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens offers excellent image sharpness and clarity at any aperture with increased smoothness and uniformity in out-of-focus areas. Ideal for moving pictures of our pets. Also, it allows special filters thanks to a system in which the lens's front element does not rotate.
Its maximum aperture of f/1.8 allows reliable results even in low light and restricts the depth of field in the shot. Moreover, this lens is completed by ultra-fast focusing and minimal sound, making it an ideal companion for photographing moving animals.
4) 105mm focal length lens with ƒ/1.4 maximum aperture
The Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG Hsm Art lens is a short telephoto portrait-length lens. That will allow us to play with distances with guarantees in pet photography. It works perfectly with optimal results in low light conditions and allows full control of the depth of field to isolate the target pet and play with the focus.
Its Hyper Sonic Motor autofocus system allows a silent, smooth, and fast autofocus that we need in this type of photography.
It is also made of ultra-strong and lightweight materials: carbon fiber-reinforced plastic in the lens hood and a thermally stable composite (TSC) in the lens.
This makes it a lightweight lens for outdoor and on-the-move sessions where shock resistance is critical.
Other useful tips for taking the best pet photos
Animal photography is one of the many specializations in the world of photography. It is a discipline that requires special skills and a different approach from "classic" photography, especially if animals are the subject of the photos.
It is complicated to find the right angle when you must photograph a living subject whose movements we cannot control. One must know how to take the right photo at the right time for it to be unique.
A familiar mat or cushion can help keep them in place. In general, mice, hamsters, rabbits, and reptiles will stay near a warm place (under a projector or infrared lamp, for example). Something that piques their interest will also help keep them in a confined area.
As for dogs, however, you will win them over with toys, treats, or both! Once you have determined which object motivates your dog, use it to get his attention.
If you wave a treat in front of the dog and then toss it up, he is likely to look up at you, and you can use a few precious seconds to take pictures while he is paying attention to the treat.
Similarly, if he prefers tennis balls or toys that make noise, you can hold one close to the dog to stimulate his interest and then quickly hide it while he waits for you to throw it at him.
Be sure to reward him appropriately; otherwise, the dog's attention may wane. For example, if the dog is particularly active, you can give him a toy to play with or a treat to chew to keep him calm.