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Picture Perfect

As an animal behaviorist, I may be attuned to how pets behave, but convincing them to sit for a photo is another story. So, I was eager chat with renowned pet photographer Rachel Hale -- who recently published a collection of photos in two keepsake albums called My Cat Record Book and My Dog record Book. Here, she shares some of her secrets:

Q: How do you get a pet in the mood for pictures?
A: Make the animal feel relaxed. Play with it first, then take out the camera. Dogs are easy ­ once theyıve warmed up theyıll stay where you direct them. For cats, I use what I call the Hansel and Gretel approach: I lay down a path of food leading exactly to where I want them to be. Once they get there, I snap the picture.

Q: You capture the most adorable expressions. Whatıs your strategy?
A: Farm noises are best for dogs. I might cluck to get a dogıs attention and then make a loud sound ­ like MOO! ­ to get him to cock his head to one side. As for cats, flashing a feather stick (you may need an assistant for this ­ someone standing on a chair, but out of the picture) are likely to make them look the way you want.

Q: What are some common mistakes people make?
A: They force the issue. You have to be patient. Sometimes I spend three days shooting before I come up with the perfect shot. If an animal is not in the right mood, youıll end up with an angry-looking portrait. Itıs also important to reward pets with a snack or a game after each session. That way, theyıll associate picture-taking with treats‹which makes for easier shots next time.

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nick@thepetdocs.com
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