At the rescue centre, Cat and Michael chose not to photograph the animals in their enclosures. "You want to avoid photographing them 'behind bars'," says Michael. "Picking up one particular animal's story, you can get people to engage with this rescue, and potentially find interest in all of the animals in the shelter."
Choosing an angle that highlights endearing character traits is also a good idea. This is especially true for rescue animals as it could assist in helping them find a forever home. "Sit them at a slight angle and have them look over their shoulder if you can," continues Michael.
The pose you want to capture the pet in will depend entirely on its size. "If you're working with a small dog, for example, you might try and raise them up on something," she says. "If it's a really active dog that can't sit still, you might get a couple of action shots, but I normally photograph dogs like this on a lead." It is advisable to photograph dogs off their leads only if they can obey commands and sit still.
Getting up close can also create striking images. Cat encourages shooting from low on the floor so you're at eye level in order not to intimidate your pet. If you can, try to get their eyes in focus, as this will add emotion to your images. The Eye AF on the Canon EOS R6 is great for this.
Alternatively, if you're aiming for a dynamic shot, shoot from a high angle above the animal. This is not always recommended for rescue animals who might be somewhat nervous to be photographed from above, but it is ideal for your own pets, if they are confident by nature.
"Once you've built up a bit of rapport, if you hold a treat close to your lens, or have someone move a ball around, you can lean over them and photograph them looking up at you. It can create a really engaging image," says Cat.
If you don't have a helper or an angle is particularly tricky, try shooting remotely, but never force the shot if you sense your subject is getting restless or agitated. "If they're getting overly excited or stressed, don't keep going," elaborates Cat. "Even if you have to lose that shot, and just move on to something else, do that. An animal needs to feel relaxed in order to bring their personality out."