Today we have a guest post by photographer Jolanda Boekhout from The Netherlands. Jolanda and I first met through Big Picture Classes in 2010 and she has participated in four of the five Liberate Your Art Postcard Swaps. I was marveling over her postcards, where were images of her cats she posts on Instagram, and asked her if she would share about her 365 project and how to photograph pets with your smartphone. Welcome and thank you, Jolanda! I’m inspired to go photograph my pets now.
A 365 with My Cats
I started a 365‐project with my iPhone for the first time in 2012. Since that moment I haven’t stopped shooting daily, addictive as it is. Sitting on the couch on New Years’ day morning 2014 with my three cats around me I already knew my word for 2014, ‘quiet’, but I still had no clue what my 365 photography project for 2014 would be. I jokingly asked my partner Eric what he thought of me following the cats with my camera for a year. He didn’t think it would be interesting or challenging enough. Boy, how wrong he was.
So I started this adventure with Tara, Blackie & Piet… with a little doubt in my heart. Would my photos be diverse enough to make the project interesting? Would my cats be bored with me after a while? Would I feel bored with shooting the same photos over and over again? How could I think all these disturbing thoughts! After a few days I got more and more excited. My cats have such an interesting and adventurous life!
Working with your own animals can be challenging, in spite of what Eric said. Animals have a mind of their own. You can’t ask them to sit and pose in a certain way, well you can ask, but the outcome won’t be like you have in mind. :‐D. Registering a habit you love on photo needs a lot of patience. You need to have your iPhone close all the time, and it can take a lot of photos till you’re satisfied with the result.
The reward came with photos that made my heart sing. A photo of the contentment on Piet’s face while sitting on my lap, the details of the beautiful and characteristic coloring of Tara’s fur and Blackie’s mischievous actions made me feel full of love. Working together and watching them being patient with me filled me with emotion. Some photos made me laugh and some made me cry of love. But all of my photos are special in one way or another, like my cats are special.
I ended the year with sadness in my heart. How could I stop photographing my beautiful friends? I haven’t stopped. I’ve set a goal for myself to shoot 365 photos for Tara, Blackie and Piet so that I can create a 365‐book for each of them.
What made a 365 with my cats priceless? With so many photos of each of them I’ve been creating a beautiful memory, in experiencing the adventures in their lives in an active way, but also with a beautiful collection of photos.
How to photograph your pet with your iPhone…
There are several things you need to remember when photographing your pet, in general and with a phone.
First of all you need to be aware that photographing your pet takes patience. Shooting your pet with your DSLR or your phone doesn’t make a difference in that. Photographing your pet with your phone has the advantage that you’ve got your phone close all day long. Don’t give up too soon if you don’t get the result you want right away. Give it time. And always be sweet with your pet.
Observe your pet with different eyes. Connect with your pet and try to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. Once your pet is accustomed to you and your camera being close all the time he or she will take you on a beautiful journey.
Making yourself ‘invisible’ is a great way to get surprising images. Try to focus your attention on anything but your pet and press the button when your pet settles down and thinks you’re not watching.
What I love about animals is the look on their faces when they are focused, on you or an imaginary prey. This is the moment that you can tap your point of focus, the eyes for instance, easier because you’ve got some extra seconds. A phone doesn’t focus as fast as a DSLR so you need to get creative with your pet.
Sometimes I choose photos that are not in focus. Some of the actions of my cats make it impossible to focus. Having patience with yourself is important in those moments. And accidental shots, which for me are mostly out of focus, can be really beautiful. I often remind myself that a blurry photo tells a story too. What I look for when choosing my daily photo out of a couple of blurry photos is a nice composition or an expression or pose that says it all.
And what I always like to photograph is my sleeping cats. Be as silent as possible, study your pet and try a different vantage point (from above or lie flat on your belly).
When you get the hang of following your pet with your phone after some time you can start to add some extras to your photos. Play with composition, light and shadow or lines and shapes. Catching lens flare, which is really easy with a phone, is adding a dreamy, playful or funny tone to a photo.
Be aware of the background in your photo. Choosing the right background, which can be any part of your home without daily life clutter, can add peace to your photo. But deliberately photographing your pet in your daily clutter can tell a story just as much.
When starting to follow your pet daily with your phone think about what you want to remember. Maybe a habit, daily rituals, sharing cuddles, an action with a favorite toy and your interaction with your pet. Once you start you’ll be inspired by the day.
Thank you so much Jolanda!! Visit here for more mobile tutorials!