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Shoot: Kittens

Lesson 4 from: Animal Photography

Rachael Hale McKenna

Shoot: Kittens

Lesson 4 from: Animal Photography

Rachael Hale McKenna

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Lesson Info

4. Shoot: Kittens

Lesson Info

Shoot: Kittens

When working with animals as a mention before, it is really, really important toe make sure everything's really safe and the animals a comfortable within the environment, it's a little bit different working in the creative life studio form a normally I would be working with kits, even even, possibly kittens. I would often go to their homes to work with, um just cause they more comfortable when the environment there, but kittens team to be a lot better, a lot easier, not be easier to bring studio if you need to, but really one of the vital things you need to make to make sure is that kittens often haven't had the full blacksmith vaccinations when you're working with them. So you gotta make sure that you have often breeders and also animal shelters have got a special bacterial spray, which you can spread everything so, like I've got fear, the teases and all sorts of things, which are you use with a variety of different animals. So it's really, really important that after working with a l...

itter of kittens or a litter of puppies that you basically sterilize everything, make sure that you spray everything with disinfectant, which is theme going toe get rid of any bacterial and fiction or anything which could you could pass on to another. Another letter of animals which you're gonna be working with so and so the studio is being cleaned we had a couple of dogs and testing them out last night and so everything's being totally claimed and everything for these two little kittens coming in they have been vaccinated, so we're pretty good, but still we've taken precautions to make sure that it's all fine also you may need to make sure that you've got a solid surfaces to work on I'm working on a table with the kittens purely to bring them up to my level with so I'm not killing my back, being down on the ground all the time, working with them so and it's all so easy for me and this regards to have a person either side of the table to keep the chickens more contained that in an environment like this, I'm not going to let the kittens run around the streets of the studio at all because well possibly lose them in behind a background somewhere and not be able to get them out. So it's really important that we do keep them safe within the occasion and bring them out and work on them in the tape on the table situation it's really an especially that when you when we bring the puppies and later we're going to have to really be careful that if they are running round it'll that they don't start two electrical wires when I'm working and my studio normally there's, not nearly as many wise, is the right here on creative, creative life that we've got cameras everywhere here, so we're gonna have to be extra extra precaution it today, but normally I would actually taking eat flesh wires up off the floor, so they're not even there for the puppy's, too true them and things, but in an ideal world for me, I would be probably working in natural light so I wouldn't have flesh I'm going today, I'm going to try and work in natural light. Well, looks like we've got beautiful natural light, but unfortunately, cameras do not see what we see if you think I was planning on natural what it like to work, and then you look through the camera and your metering, you think, uh, we're gonna have to be on the thirtieth of thirty five seconds. Shutter speed like wide open aperture wide open aperture is not a problem, but a thirtieth is definitely a problem if you're hand holding in a species with an animal, which is probably going to be moving quite often, so so, but I might try and do a little bit of work in natural light so they can see the difference between working with flesh and and natural light. I'm going to bring a tricorder and which I normally wouldn't work on a tripod I like to have a little bit more control about moving around I'm working with them, but in this situation I'm probably gonna have to put my camera on a tripod if I want to work and natural light because I'm going to have to have a slightly shot slow shutter speed which isn't a problem often with animals because you can mesmerize them with the noise you can get them to just all with it like with a feather teaser were the kitten you'll see I'm going to tease them and then suddenly you flick it really fast we watching it then pull it straight down to the camera lens and then just like fixated on it so they will often hold still for that split second well less than a second that you need to reach a kit it captured the image so working on tripod and natural light is not impossible that slow shutter speeds yeah, I've done it before even on four by five men I was capturing images on if you see the first chicken sometimes because we're often I worked with polaroid film and you only headlight a cso film and things with polaroid so you were very, very and if I wanted to use natural like and it was sometimes quite challenging but it's all possible comes back to that good old patients yeah so I think we've got a really safe environment here everyone's on the lookout so I think we're gonna go and get the little kittens and maybe start doing some things but I think first wear on a always okay we'll let him go to the toilet fair enough fair enough I've got we've got some really cute little things today actually for props I'll show you were on my my little props I've got you look at this adorable losing which I'm hoping that neulevel noodle with little gray one I'm hoping we might be able to get a little shot kids often don't like wearing clothing so it's one of those play the poppies and much easier to get to put things on buckets of differently they're quite funny actually if you put something on it like if you put a little top or something on a kitten will be running backwards trying to get out of this quite entertaining actually for them but it's something which if they're not going to seattle with something on the way won't try it but we might be able to try this in something like this I I ordered off line it's doll's clothing so it's great toe like if you wanted to find some really cute props google dole's clothing yeah hi babies look atyou now we might actually need cem studio ordinance audience assistance here with keeping are they just gonna have got beautiful we're just doing a teashop before with some flowers so you guys gonna check out a thousand so it's really important that you let the animals just check out the environment they've been having a good run around so that should be fine but we're going to make sure that we don't lose them off the table you're gonna be great if you don't mind staying because I'm not going to control these couldn't by myself when I'm working with the camera always I often have a person either side of the table toe just make sure that they don't jump off will run and run away and things so do I have anyone here who'd like to yeah okay johnny coming ever are you checking out the camera go so if I could just get you to stand on this side what was your name catherine catherine thank you katherine so if you stand on the side but what we're basically doing we're gonna make sure the animals the animals don't jump off the um don't don't jump off it'll gonna move my flowers out of the way as beautiful as they are right now I did actually have some little floral he bends made for these gorgeous I love working with flowers so here they go already they're going to think this is a great game pulling the background very comforting sitting on there so can I maybe have my floral he'd pieces brought in for me joyce had those this morning so but the kittens are actually smaller than I thought they were going to pay so I had them made thinking they were going to let go and the direction of the hair bands of coming a bit bigger than I thought they were going to be so what I'm thinking I might do is actually put one round anita's a collar which should be quite a sweet little looks about two psi but even this little the lively you're so tiny that you might even be too little for a knick collar that new gorgeous gonna everyone knows about fear thirtysomething expecting yeah he's a fantastic tools just for working them to camera you actually a quite sprightly and you you I thought you were a timid little one but you are great but see how when you're using these instruments it's really easy to get there attention you could watch them really well cats a really, really visual creatures so you can use a little bird noises and things I'm often use my voice to create food, bird noises and things but thanks but often more more often than not with an animal with kits and kittens you using fear the teases and thanks to you our precious looking quite sleeping these things little kittens or actually had a really good run around and then seemed to be in the perfect frame of mind to work with which is fantastic you a little bit feisty though I knew is this is this is fun, isn't it so killing killing killing mode on you I'll give you that and you could just play the little kitten and in the meantime while I check out these little buddies over here yeah, these are quite big but that's right that's probably my fault for instructing them to be slightly so what here? I've asked a faster flores to make some little he bends for me which is to say it would be perfect for the puppies because the puppies are going to be quite a bit bigger but this is you imagine this is going to be really quite big on the kittens zinni so if I'm going to use these when I might have to do is that she cut them and then use a little bit of wire to go around but it could hey you it could work my envisage for this was done just want to hit the ground us a little the colors run the nick but I'm just going to see if it is going to be possible to do this you're gonna take the ribbon though and you know cheeky monkey cheeky monkey now he comes my way how do you undo a bow wave? Go looking good here actually just get this it's being made on wire, which is really good for being able to bend it and get it around the animals well, but be very, very careful to make sure you don't have sharp edges and things like that, but when I'm working with them individually I'm gonna probably put one of the kittens back in the and the actual cage because they'll be too distracting with each other what I might do can I just get you to hold this little one person just too much fun playing with feed the teaser though, isn't it? I'm just gonna check you might wanna poke you with this is well it's quite long was gonna see if this is it she could have physically work to go around in it it's a little bit heavy so he might feel awkward when it goes on him but yeah, I think it might work if my smurfs you know, squash it before we even get in that's called what I'm gonna do is removal the ribbon it is distractions from him like you beautiful ribbon sorry, florist and was going to take it all off. You want to jump? Do you wanna jump off? Can I actually am get danny out can I just get you to removal that ribbon forming here thanks that's great and then we can actually do artist on the shot woods with these lentils I'm just going to use for the flesh I've got this flesh sit up here normally in my studio situation I would have a big doctor light like this so it's a huge big softball but my in my studio situation I've gotten lower ceilings so I often bounce my light off the ceiling which gives me a much softer overall effect it with the lighting I'm always tryingto basically recreate natural light and whenever possible I work in natural light so I think I'm going to test it on the with the flesh but I think it's gonna be to contrast it for my liking so then I'm gonna probably bring in a tripod and put the camera onto a tripod so that I can then actually work at a slower shutter speed and create using the the effect which I like but sometimes it can be detrimental to trying to get this shot as well so we'll just we'll risk in a plant by you for a second of it it's all right it's gonna get his shot if can you just do it? I'll just give you that grab it for a second actually we're actually really good he's in the perfect spot if you just with that and bring it straight to camera lens for may I was going to see that make sure we're working to the bone you know the joys of working with animals kim on actually can I'm sorry I've completed my black what was your name again? Shelia shelia shelia can I get you to grab and lively for me for a second who was being a bit too lively getting weighed confident that school so if you can if you can work no no over into the middle of a little bit more if you can do it another thing if they lose interest in the fever fever end it's really good to flip it over and they love a sticky and absolutely dora and to get them really racked up but just sometimes you don't want to do you could put it underneath fabric and they chase it it's a great way to weed them out I'll show you that later just bring the fever right up onto the lean so if you bring there right to here hopefully he'll look look bring lookit right down you make sure you don't go into the lean so if you can if you want to show you if you get the attention keep it really fast so he's watching it and then just bring it right down to here you know interfering with my vision because I'm looking through the camera but if you bring it down straight down you blinked little guy look just do it and again huh check what there there we go we have a the lighting is actually not too bad yeah we're looking on and this regards I am different as you probably see with the images of showing you I most of those images helping shot a natural itis just so soft and just such an ethereal sort of field working in natural light but sometimes you just have to use flesh and it's not too bad so what we might do is I'll go do some shots with flesh and then then I'm going to show you the difference by bringing in the tripod and actually working in natural light and then we can compare the two but I'm gonna have to this is working at the moment I've got the camera set on a hundred and it's top of two point eight, which means that I've got to be very precise with my focusing because way were incredibly shallow depth of field and then I met a two hundredth of a second but the flesh is freezing everything everywhere anyway so in regards to the yeah, I will do it if it was published down somewhere on here that's right? Yeah, because I'm probably gonna need to make it smart a smaller baby distraction distraction you can pop pop her back and they're actually in the meantime if it's that's calling them we'll get so as you can see the background as well is just a really, really simple piece of fabric just a cheap cotton stretch favorite which I got from them from the fabric shop so you don't need to have expensive backgrounds or anything even if you're working at home or anything he just pull out old sheets or I'd make you my piece of fabric which have got a beautiful texture or pattern on it which which will work really well yeah, just cut cut it probably about you yeah, that she could go down to the cutting part. Yeah, that should visit got well done none of giving that still might be a little bit thank right hey, what's up you just want to play and be freed on you they're all they've got separation anxiety these guys yeah, yeah, they they used to working being with each other I think keep you yeah, so this is where the fun part comes on I'll just get you to hold him for me. Yeah, two on there for a minute while we it is always fun trying to work with props with animals to see with it is it going to be better if you bring him back into the scenario? Yeah, I just want to bring lively back the hip really is this is quite unusual actually to have kittens with separation anxiety like this they've obviously so used to being being with each other normally there oh, just let them get back into it again you look totally relaxed playing again now they've got each other crazy little kittens crazy little cannons now this also I've got a little magic in my magic box here which I often have a lot of a lot of goodies so if this ends up being too heavy for the kitten because it is a passing around it if you feel that there is quite weighty which possibly is going when you put it around his neck he's going to feel uncomfortable with it so I was just gonna be one when he settles down I will try it but I think it's possibly going to be bitter on the puppies the flower scenario but so what I have got in my little kit here is I've got an array of different different ribbons and things so I've always got little a lots of little things you've got ribbons beautiful I've got actually like this pearls would look gorgeous on one of these local so we might actually try try some pools on actually it's let's try that now actually will see him it going just get cut off the excess so I've always got needles and three exes is glue almost lots of stuff you never know what you're gonna need when you're working with animals I'm actually just gonna put the rubbish in there but I mean she's gonna get a little bit of gaffer tape because this I've got after three did the pills with a little piece of with cem stretchy jewelry ballistic but it's actually when you're tired and you're not like tired of that team not there but it does come undone so the last thing I want is for the pills toe to go all over the floor like when I did the other day with so I'm just gonna put a little bit of gaffer tape which we will know will set up the bet of the animal anyway simulates good all black gaffer tape I was gonna cover that area off the elastic so that we don't come undone while we're shooting because the last thing you want also is for a puppy or a kitten or something to pick one of these up in the mouth swallow it and start choking it's very similar working with animals with theirs with babies same sort of things so obviously that part of my nicolas now is going to going in the back because it's not the most attractive part of the knickers okay, now you guys how are we gonna work with you individually? This is my little challenges, right? So we're gonna go who's gonna wear these came on likely to want to come in you're actually have quite this one still is a lot more placid, so my pick out of dealing with these two would be to work with the grey one but we're going to definitely have to keep the the black kitten around so that he doesn't doesn't get separation anxiety, which is period begins so I'm just gonna put this on. We're just gonna meet him and just let him get used to what he's probably gonna look but it's not a big straight through it. Yeah, but we'll just leave it there. He's just gonna play with it for a little bit. Yeah, this's quite normal when you gotta always let them sort of get a little bit more used to something and then hopefully we'll be able to distract him with it. He'll soon realize that it's just there it's not going to hurt him. It's just too bad at the moment. It's a toy. So what we'll do is we'll get I might get a different fever now, and we'll just take attention away from the polls with the owners that air so traumatized by the actions of their pets that they get too anxious and it makes it much more difficult to photograph is often the way often the way with with working with the owners. Sometimes I actually do have to ask me on us to leave because the're, the anxious energy is really detrimental to trying to capture the shot. So yeah, so what we're gonna do is pop your league big through it's, always fun, come on, you guys. See how he's backing so just watch me doesn't go so what he was doing there he was walking backwards trying to get out of the pools that's just unnatural but he'll soon realize you can't get them off and they're not harming him at all so I'll give you that I'm gonna pick up the camera again so what we're going to do now it's exactly what you were doing before try and bring him to the edge of the table because you know he can't go anywhere from there and they will and they work so I'm just going to so I'm just gonna do this just to get him interested ignorance of what I'm doing here is putting the stick underneath and this really gets, um and this is a really, really good way to get them to the spot you want to get them tow it's like hunting a bug or something like they don't know if they can't see the whole thing but you just got movement seo's he'd come down is going more into hunt alone and he's actually really watching you're actually being a bit slower than normal I'm gonna need to so can I just get you to continue with that while I straighten up his necklace and I'm actually just gonna whether kitten you can actually bring them into position more working with an n o k no, you cannot put them in a spot that would continuously just run away right already so just bring he'll come back and get up there keep stepping into it that's right so what we do is I'm gonna bring this as well that's what a good boy and that is breaking but actually I don't mind it with us put pour through the pills doesn't have to be hanging like a perfect nicolas you got like going across the chest is quite cute that's not it's not too bad so what I'm gonna do is get youto try and bring his attention to camera what we want to trying to see if we can get her to sit and watch this he's now wondering were the sticks were gone well I don't see that happening through the camera's eye everyone jumps to try to rescue him from the lake yeah you can see how it is challenging when you bring props into thiss ones when you bring props into a shirt it is a lot more challenging to work with the animal but because before we managed to get a gorgeous little shot of him looking at camera on but that's because he was he was just a simple shot no props involved is definitely easier than there is gonna completely rest I can't even see the pearls now you could've found your tummy okay I'm just gonna put that down from another that's right everybody booth the girls! I'm sorry she doesn't. She doesn't know, I don't really care, yeah, let's, go, so what I'm gonna do, hey, you okay, okay, it's okay, kim. He was gonna. I'm just going to spend a little bit of time just seeing if she'll settle down just a little bit good girl, just a calming sort of things. See if we can get her to settle a little bit more she's. Just been so the hottest thing with the kittens, that playful, inquisitive just want to spend so much time just doing their own thing. You'll see when in the next segment, how puppies, I'm hoping puppies are a little bit more cooperative. Thank you. At the moment, you're not letting me prove that I can. What magic? No, no, no.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Black on Black
Photographing Kitten and Puppies
Shooting for Licensing and Publishing
Working with Adult Cats
Working with More Challenging Animals
Shooting on Location - The French Cat - The French Dog
Taking an Idea and Working Through the Process
Ways to Get Started in the Animal Photography Industry
Rachael on Location - Kelsey Creek Farm

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This course was definitely worth the investment - both time and money. With about 15 hours worth of video sessions and amazing bonus handouts - Rachael provides some really useful, practical tips that you can apply straight away regardless whether you're just beginning your photography journey or are a seasoned professional. It was great to see Rachael at work in session - especially her techniques used to calm and quieten her models if needed. She had a potpourri of helpful suggestions such as remember to take both landscape and portrait shots (if possible), know your rights to take and use images - don't assume, be extra vigilant with cleanliness especially around kittens and puppies who may not have been fully vaccinated, keep kittens and puppies isolated in pens or cages if not in their own environment as they're escape artists etc. Her extensive experience with licensing agents and publishing houses was insightful ... and not for the faint-hearted, so it seems! Thanks Rachael for taking the time to share your know-how, tips and techniques and giving us a peek into your world and workflow you follow to produce awesome animal shots.


I loved this class! I don't I tend to be a "pet photographer" but I do want to be a "Pet friendly" photographer! I have gotten lots of tricks and tools to use while photographing occasional clients pets and my own! ( I have a horse, a pony, bunnies, cats, dogs and ducks) I'm super glad I watched the class live and I'm even more glad I bought it so I can re- watch it whenever I want :) (The shoot with the mini horse, dogs, chicken, duck and people was awesome! It loomed like my family picture would look if my husband didn't say "no" on occassion! lol)

Rebecca Potter

Love, Love, Love this course... Rachael is so down to earth and inspiring and I enjoyed all the hands-on shooting which shows you how patient you need to be for this type of photography. Truly an amazing course... Thank you.

Student Work