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Photo Contest Insider Blog

Hazards to prepare for when Photographing Animals

November 2, 2016

Whether you are including a pet in a family portrait, or going for something a little more exotic, animals can be an exciting addition to a photoshoot. On the other hand, however, they can introduce a lot of hazards that you have to look out for. When working with live animals, it’s important that you prepare as much as possible beforehand. Here is what you need to do.

Cover Your Wires

First of all, think about the amount of wires that are around in the average photographic studio. You have cables for the lights keeping them powered, as well as cables running from the lights to your camera. You may be tethered to a computer station, which will have its own wires in addition. There may also be other wires such as extension cables and equipment that is not in use. All of this can be a big hazard for an unsupervised animal. It could trip or become tangled in the wires, causing them to hurt themselves or pull equipment down. They could chew the wires, which could give them an electric shock or damage your equipment. They could even ingest small pieces of wire and the plastic coating around cables. If they decide to mark their territory in your studio, they may also cause electrical equipment to short out! Make sure that all hazards are covered and out of the way. If you need them to run around the set, cover them with duct tape so that they cannot be pried up. Always have someone keeping an eye on the animals while they are not in the shot.

Keep Children Separate

When you have animals on set, it can be a potential cause for concern. With children on set as well, you are doubling the risk! It can be very stressful to work with both at once, particularly because children can be unpredictable in their reactions. They might end up screaming and crying when presented with a new animal. On the other hand, they might play rough with the animal, not realising that they could hurt it or cause it to panic and lash out. If working with children, be sure that the only animals around are trusted family pets. Otherwise it’s safe to work in composites.

Prevent Panic

If the animal feels threatened or scared, you might end up with chaos on set. Your animal could end up attacking models or other members of your creative team out of stress. They could also end up going to the toilet on your lovely, clean, paper backdrop. It’s a good idea to keep the animal’s owner or handler close by so that they can reassure it and keep it calm. If you are hiring an animal to create your photoshoot, consider looking for a professional model animal. These animals will be used to the flashing lights and noises of a working set. They are more likely to remain docile. Remember that even the family pet might have an unexpected reaction to the bright lights, and put safety first at all times.

Be Ready

Another factor that makes it difficult to work with animals is that they don’t tend to be as good at following instructions. You are likely to have animals who wander around, move when you want them to stay still, and look in various directions at will. This means that if you do manage to get them lined up in the perfect position, you have to act fast. Be ready to get the shot of them looking in the right direction and standing still, as it may only last for a few moments.

Check Your Insurance

Your studio should be insured, but you might not be fully aware of what it does and does not cover. Having animals on set is not exactly a normal situation, and so it may not be covered by your insurance. It could be that you are required to have a professional trainer on set, or that you need to take other precautions. If your insurance does not cover the shoot, it might be wise to consider other options. A panicked animal, even a small one, could cause a lot of damage. There’s no way to predict what might happen. It wouldn’t be wise to leave yourself in a situation where you could be facing a steep bill for equipment repair or replacement with no insurance payout.

If you are determined to shoot with animals, make sure that you take these precautions. Otherwise, you could quickly find yourself in trouble!

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