Scrapbook Your Animal Friends

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Linda Rountree Grove
I was here first!: It’s important to capture your subject’s personality.

I enjoy photographing the special things in my life, then turning those photos into beautiful scrapbooks. However, when it comes to photographing my farm animal friends, it can be a challenge. It seems my feathered and furry friends have short attention spans.

So, you ask, how can you get the camera to capture that special something that truly conveys your animal’s unique personality?

Well, first let me say that you don’t have to be a professional photographer to take great animal photos. You also don’t have to go out and buy an expensive camera. A basic camera with no frills works just fine because, with the animals’ short attention span, you’re not going to have time to fiddle with all the bells and whistles of a fancy, high-dollar camera anyway.

Following are five tips to consider when taking animal photos so you can get the best shots possible. Employing one or more of these techniques when photographing your animal friends can make the difference between an average shot and one that captures your animal’s unique personality.

The bond that develops between humans and animals deserves to be commemorated, and putting these fabulous mementoes in a scrapbook is truly a treasure to behold.

Capture Personality

You know your animal’s behavior better than anyone. Use that knowledge to help you anticipate an upcoming photo possibility.

For example, when I heard a ruckus in the nesting box one day, I wasn’t surprised to find Molly at the bottom of it. Although Molly is our smallest chicken, she has a larger-than-life personality and is always the center of attention. Because I know Molly does not like to share the nesting box with her sister, I was ready with my camera. I shot the photo through the egg door of the coop and was able to catch her “I was here first!” attitude, and it made a great photo for the scrapbook (scrapbook page titled “I was here first!”).

Shoot At Eye Level Or Up

Unless you’re photographing a horse, donkey, cow or other large animal, if you shoot the camera while standing up, you’ll be shooting down on your subject. This can make the subject look small, making a photo lack importance and depth.

Instead, kneel and shoot at eye level to establish a one-on-one connection with your subject. This is also a good way to make sure your subject’s personality is properly conveyed. Or, if possible, shoot the camera up toward your subject to project strength and importance. I shot upward on the photo on the scrapbook page titled “Meet Molly,” and notice how clearly Molly’s strong personality shines through.

Consider Background

Walk around your subject looking for a good shot. We’re often afraid if we don’t snap the photo quickly, we’ll miss our chance. However, a few steps to the right or left can mean the difference between a cluttered background or poor lighting and one that focuses on the subject. Also watch for backgrounds that make it look like a fence or tree is growing out of your subject’s head.

As a general rule, do not photograph toward the sun. It puts harsh lighting and pronounced shadows on the photo.

If, by chance, you do take a photo that has something distracting in the background, it can usually be cropped out or removed using a photo editing program. If you’re unable to remove the obstruction, however, most likely it can be hidden with an embellishment or scrapbooking technique. In the photo on the scrapbook page titled “Molly’s Hobbies,” there was a lot of grassy yard in the background, so I placed the photo on the page, covered it with two-sided patterned paper, ripped the paper and folded up the corners. Then I inked the corner edges. This is just one of the many techniques that could easily hide a distracting background.

Catch Them in Action

It’s sometimes easier to capture personality and emotion through action than through a still pose.

For the amateur photographer, the easiest way to capture the action is by setting your camera to the “sports” mode, which freezes the action even if your subject is in motion. If your camera doesn’t have this feature, don’t despair. There are times when blurred motion is fine — and even artistic. In the photo on the scrapbook page titled “Shake a Tail Feather,” Molly is dust-bathing. While the dust in the background looks blurry, it also looks realistic. Just remember that blurry doesn’t always work.

Close In On Your Subject

By either moving closer to your subject or by using the zoom feature on your camera, you can tighten the shot and make it more focused. You don’t want the subject to look small or get lost in the photo.

Having the subject fill the frame gives the subject more importance and makes other objects less important. For example, in the close-up photo of Molly on the scrapbook page titled “Layer Mash,” you barely notice the background, because your eyes are instantly drawn to Molly. And close-ups are great for scrapbooking.

Linda Rountree Grove enjoys snapping photos of her animal friends at her farm in Missouri, then scrapbooking the photos.