People have occasionally expressed interest in how I go about taking the photo's for the Rescue, so some time ago I promised to do some "bunny photo tips" on this blog. Here is where we start. But before I begin spewing my unique and questionable advice, I gotta ramble on a bit so you know where it comes from. If that sounds too boring, feel free to skip ahead to the first tip, which is right at the end of the spewing. Here goes...
I have been photographing rabbits now for more than six years. Despite having no skill in this area at the time, I somehow became the official photographer for the Rescue quite early on in my volunteering. What I lacked in skill and experience I made up for in enthusiasm and dedication and...well... I owned a digital camera, I turned up every week and I knew how to make the pictures the right size to put on RabbitRehome. In the small volunteer team we had back then, this made me the expert.
Well anyway, as the years went on I got better at the photography thing. This happened through lots of experience, a fair amount of advice from photographer friends and just a little bit of reading. I learned which end of the camera to point at the bunny and which end to jam my face in. I found out how to hold the camera as steady as I could and how to change the settings to make up for that being not very steady at all. As I got to know bunnies better I also got better at spotting when the moment to take the picture was. I even started seeing it coming in time to have the camera ready and in the right place. Lastly, I started to find which buttons on my computer made the photographs look better after they were taken.
As the quality of the final pictures improved, so the number of ways they were used increased - not only do they appear on our website and Facebook pages, but on our calendars, and they have also been used by other organisations promoting rabbit welfare, by newspapers, a magazine and even a TV station. And I guess I must have been doing something right because our volunteers even started asking me to take pictures of their own bunnies!
That kinda sounds like I might know what I'm doing but if I'm honest, as much as I know I have improved in my photography, I still don't consider myself that great at it. When I compare the quality of my pictures with those of my photographer friends, it is quite plain that for all that I've figured out, there is so much I still have to learn. But then none of their photo's are of bunnies, so in that way at least I win..!
What is my point in telling you all of this? Quite simply, before you start taking my advice on photographing bunnies, I want you to know where it is coming from. I'm probably not the best person to give you general photography advice, but luckily for you there are thousands of great websites already that can do just that. But when it comes to bunnies, I now know a lot of simple tricks that have made the pictures you see now much better than the ones I produced all those years ago when I started. And here I would like to share these tricks with you. Which leads us to....
Bunny Photo Tip #1
This first tip is without doubt the most important tip I will give you. And here it is:-
When taking a picture of a bunny (or any other animal), unless you have particular reason to do otherwise, always take the picture from the head height of your subject. Hold the camera so the lens at the front is about the same height off the ground as the bunny's eyes/nose, make sure you are standing close enough (or zoomed in) that the bunny fills a decent amount of the frame and take the picture.
Simple, eh? I thought we should start with the easy ones. But so you don't feel all cheated and all, especially if you read the essay above and were expecting something more complicated, let me explain my reasoning:
- The camera when the picture is taken is the eyes of the person viewing the photo afterwards. If you are at head height (rather than, say, looking down from some distance away) you are right there with the bunny in their world. To make the person viewing the picture feel connected to the scene, you want them to feel part of it.
- You also want your photo to convey your bunny's personality and mood, and for that you need it to contain the parts of your bunny that express those things. As with most animals, this is mostly in the face:- Ears, eyes, nose, mouth. (Sometimes, if you have displeased them, it's in the tail as that's all you're gonna see, but we'll leave that for another day.) Your average bunny has their mouth tucked underneath out of sight, so if you have the camera anywhere higher than the nose then the image is missing a vital part that your monkey brain is expecting to see when it looks at a face.
- If you take a photo from some distance below the subject's eye-line they will appear to tower over you, making them seem big and imposing. They are looking down on you, like a bully at school who has just knocked you to the ground. If you take it from a little above then the subject is looking up, like an innocent child. There are times when you want to add elements of this into your photo (like trying to better capture overbearing grumpy bunnies or the sweetness of baby bunnies) but most of the time you just want to capture them as they are, so straight on is the best way to start.
So there you go. If you have any questions about today's tip, please comment below. It is my plan that more Fursday Foto Tips follow, so if any of our bunny friends out there are disappointed with any particular aspects of their parents photo-taking skills, please let us know what you'd like us to help them with!
See you back here tomorrow for more bunny tales.