The New Year

2019 has begun. The government is closed, the flu is rampant, and we need a distraction. So grab your cameras and a cup of tea.

Pets and Their People

This past Tuesday, we had the first club meeting of the year. Mary McGurn stopped by, not just to visit, but to discuss the topic of Pets and Their People. She’s been busy doing photos for the Berkshire Humane Society and had plenty of great examples to show us, along with some real world advice to help us out. Some of this, paraphrased, included:

  • Keep clicking. Pets move around a lot and you’ll likely find some shots are sharper than others, have better expressions than others, etc…
  • You may not be able to control the pet, the lighting, the background, or much of anything else. When you find the moment you want to capture, don’t worry about everything being perfect (that’s what Photoshop is for). If you rearrange a scene and try to get the animal doing what it was doing before, you’re probably going to walk away disappointed.
  • How the image is cropped or oriented will often determined by what media it’ll be going into. Keep this in mind when shooting.
  • Look for humor, emotion, personality. Don’t just try to capture a technically sound representation of an animal. Capture its story.
  • Shoot at the pet’s level, rather than shooting down at them. This is more interesting/intimate. Remember the EYES!
  • Bring a toy, squeaker, a laser, something to grab the attention of the animal when you need it. A sudden strange noise may cause a pet to perk up, look at you, tilt it’s head, etc…
  • Especially with pets that aren’t familiar to you… Let them see your face. If you’ve got a camera blocking their view of you, some animals might get nervous. Let the animal grow comfortable with you for better images.
©Mary McGurn, McGurn Media

Some extra notes on Pets and Their People

At the top of the page, you’ll find a picture of me with my pet tiger, “Stripes”. This photo was taken a moment after spraying Stripes with a water bottle, something he did not react positively to. Some of you may have guessed though, and you would be right, that Stripes is not actually a pet. As the competition is specifically for pets and their people, Stripes can’t compete. Likewise, for example, a farmer feeding chickens would not be permitted, as the chickens don’t really qualify as pets.

The people part of the competition is just as important. It can be as little as a hand or a foot, but there needs to be some element of people in the image. Hopefully, our photos should show some sort of interaction or relationship between the pet and the person, not just an animal by its lonesome in this big, big world.¬†Mary’s photo of “Chynna”, pictured above, does this well, along with adding a touch of humor.


Also at the meeting, there were some extra words of encouragement to submit to the Winter NECCC competition. I don’t know our exact numbers, but am being told we had a decent turnout. Though this deadline has passed, we’ll inform you when it’s time for Spring submissions.

The NECCC is having its 74th Annual Photography Conference this year, July 12-14 AT UMASS Amherst. There will be camera testing, photo opportunities, and lots of workshops. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but I have never heard of anyone coming back from the conference complaining that it had cost too much. Typical consensus is that’s it’s worth every penny and you’ll likely finding yourself spending a few more at the vendors. I have a few physical copies of the info/registration pamphlets. Also, information can be found HERE.

Photo-Ops and Inspiration!

Our next meeting is January 22 (General gets judged, nothing is due). From now until then, if you keep your eyes open, you’ll find lots of photo ops are available all around us. In case you need a little nudge towards some opportunities though, here are a few coming up:

  • Wildlife Tracking at Turn Park (West Stockbridge) – January 19, 10am-1pm. Learn to recognize the signs left by the critters that share our world.
  • MASS MoCA for Free – Until January 19. Bring your ID and head over to MASS MoCA. Admission is waived for all Berkshire County residents.
  • Total Lunar Eclipse – January 20. Weather permitting, the night of the 20th will provide a lengthy eclipse of the Blood Moon. From what I hear from crazy people, this will also be the end of the world, so it could be your last chance to capture such an event.

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