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Shoot: Shooting Farm Animals

Lesson 21 from: Animal Photography

Rachael Hale McKenna

Shoot: Shooting Farm Animals

Lesson 21 from: Animal Photography

Rachael Hale McKenna

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Lesson Info

21. Shoot: Shooting Farm Animals

Lesson Info

Shoot: Shooting Farm Animals

We have coming up now and absolutely amazing pig called penelope she's ten months old supposedly a micro pig butt she's definitely quite a bit bigger than a little pig but apparently this um clear I'm apparently the little little ones and really hard to find they don't really exist so I don't know I've never that's why I've never seen a tiny tiny tiny one other than a pig lit but anyway I'd love to welcome onto the stage penelope if we can and then here she comes she is just the most precious precious ing as interesting I haven't having that she worked with a pig for a while and a ll the pigs which I've worked with in the past I've actually worked with with animal trainers so I've had a concept and mind to work with so I've always had them trained trained for a few weeks prior to working with penelope has been here she comes I go just she just she write on the paper you just have to be really careful with special working with seamless papers that animals can be a bit slippery on these ...

sort of things but she seems seems to be okay thank you so much for bringing her in you and you're developing a new uh another animal rescue called pigs can fly which is very very probably we're going to create an image today hopefully with your cooperation penelope you listening good deals to create a great image for you which will be able to uses your iconic image will be very exciting for this rescue so can you tell us a little bit more about pigs can fly yes well when we got penelope um actually I was thinking about having are trained to be a therapy pig for nursing homes and to work with children sick children and then is it's progressed a couple of years ago actually wanted to actually start a foundation and we weren't quite sure what kind or how we would do it so we decided we teamed up with our best friends and we're doing it together and we've just had our first fundraiser on last saturday bake sale we raised three hundred twenty dollars and we're putting together the website and it will be to help six children and their families with medical costs with airline transfer first week at first we thought, well we'll do it for airline transportation needs you often have to go to different cities for different hospitals and then so we thought pigs can fly you know miracles happen and it's airplane yeah, but we're still kind of playing around with what exactly it will be but that's that's your plane you what an amazing concept and what an incredible icon and mess got to have for your rescue she's absolutely adorable I'm so looking forward to just before we go off the the risk you talk heavy. What is your website? I know you haven't got to actually sit up yet, but do you have a natural website which we can tell people to keep? Will be called pig scanpix. Ken flying capital can so if you want to keep an eye out for that in the future, let's do everything we can to help this amazing organization. Thank you. Yeah, and let's create a mescal of an image to be the mascot of the rescue. Oh, she's so precious! So I've got some I've got some great ideas today we can I've got of course we're going to photograph penelope and some wings toe basically be the iconic image for the rescue organization and but I've also got a gorgeous black two to me being black black work on the and also I'm actually I've thought about I'm actually going. She came with penelope arrived this morning, she had on the most beautiful floral nick ben, so I'm goingto steal cookies, little flower with the velvet and going to tie this around the neck just so she's got a beautiful collar as well with the with the two too, so she seems incredibly relaxed, so what we need to do is maybe just keep it, I'd never put a two to one a pig before well, I think I lie, I have, but it was a trained one, eh? So I'm going to I'm going to I'm going to start by putting the nick cholera on, so if you just keep you entertained with food and then I'm just gonna put this round and we'll probably when we're shooting, we're probably gonna have it facing this way so that or full front on, but probably slightly side on so I can see the two tuas well, but we'll we'll get this on and get your seat off first e I'll be ableto type monti and just turn around she is look at the tail going very, very much like dogs and the fact that they they show the excitement and happiness through the tail so she's wagging away because she was perfectly happy, right? Right? So the best, usually easy to slide around in a week, it is breaking, I'm just thinking I might not I'm just gonna slip around the other way haven't got any food, sweetie, he's thinking I've got food as well, I'm just gonna get I need to put around it around the other way if she's facing this way this flower needs to be more on an angle down this way so that was my fault just she's got incredibly soft for a think actually they're normally a lot more course in this but she's actually got a really beautiful heat of here on a lot of it you know and she does have a lot of it their lot normally a lot a lot you're gonna get through today she's starting to foam with the mouth will have to wait about a town which we can watch out for the truth I also brought from new zealand we have a logical the licorice or sort and pigs I love them so I brought some from all the way from new zealand for for penelope but way would only give them respect small amounts of little bits but it's a special treat on our hands here we go but at the moment she's eating one of those rice checks right wearing air popped popcorn but we didn't have time to make it this morning you know what your popcorn popcorn is great actually no this is on elastic bands are quite a loose elastic band what she'll be fine she's got quite a stomach on it so I'm hoping that will be all right so now a few dressed you before is a beast to go from the back end is fine I usually do it over the head over the head and I'm lucky that I didn't bring the peanut butter out that one oh, I think we'll be all this will be the hardest part yeah yeah so what we'll do is we'll get it over the head first okay? And they don't want to ruin her bo would you still needed yes, sir. That's what convict and it's also in already it's fine. So what we need to do is you need to put your I'm going you're gonna put your hand through the chute desperately but how about remember how we used to yeah you put your hand through what we've laid on your own and put it in metal if you go through the same hell so much to do with this to turn a one put it through there so what we're gonna try and do it if you go through this is this how you would only do it yeah yeah yeah she's just going straight through it she's right? But what I need to do is get it over I'm actually thinking you don't need help yeah I'm like I'm wondering if it's gonna be quite tight I'm wondering if I could undo this if we can get I brought some peanut butter and that's always how we get peanut butter right in there yeah, can we get the peanut butter if we need it she's somewhere out in the other room ms pearson peanut butter that's how he taught her to get her collar on yeah, so this is it she quite good I'm gonna slightly destroy the world, not destroy it but I'll be able to pull it back together again I can get it on probably just yeah, I just want to make sure that we've got that's it was for me a little bit yeah if we just take out a little be able to go into this year if we just just three suspects through thankfully it's on this is a great truth because it's on robin which I can make a lot looser pull it out more and then I'll be able to fix it back up again and give it to my daughter because I know my daughter well loveless especially especially since it's being on a pig anything to do with animals charlie says just in heaven she's a bit like him mom uh it's just it's gonna be a right now getting quite a bit. I'm not even we'll see if it goes a little bit feel way could also quickly pick up her hind legs and slighted on yeah, american should be writing have you done that as long as ashley's feeding her means great amazing thinks that oh, the licorice actually something a little you might do is just break some up because it takes her longer to choose way just break some of those up and then you've got smaller bits to actually feed it with that. Anyway, I'll cope this subpoena, but hold your fire of peanut butter. I don't think so. I think we're going through that much weight on the spoon and literally then I'll be come here, she's. All right? I love the name it's. Just the most adorable. The first image I saw penelope she was wearing a tutu. So hence the reason I was thinking of going to photograph her in that hotel because she just looked so adorable. Pigs are incredibly intelligent creatures. They are maurine probably more intelligent than dogs. Yeah, they've got everybody sort of gets this idea that pigs are really duty creatures every one of the cleanest creatures. Thank you on dh, but they just happen to love, bathing and mad to keep them cool. So that's the only reason where everyone gets a vision of pigs being really, really grubby, but they're not at all. I'm not even gonna just that should be fun already, which were joining can you help me with that going on? And she won't like this, but it's not hurting her there you go, she was she wasn't even very loud and I know she didn't mind my how cute is that? Yes it's mine sperm but it's not too tight on in so and hopefully we'll be able to get the shop and she won't now will have to wait up for her mouth all right you're just going for a lot of peanut butter and a bit now camera we might need that so I'm just gonna do what I would normally do I'm just gonna fire off a couple of shots just so that we know that she's okay with flesh yeah put your work aside I hardly ever have any issues with flesh with animals there we go it has changed my so so I'm just gonna change my eyes so I bet two hundred on the flesh and we should be it two point eight it two hundred the same as what we were today right I'm just gonna do a test she will are really but I mean she doesn't for ashley can I can I get you to come around on this side actually I'm going to get you to work with penelope for me just great so ideally what I would like you to do is to see if you can bring her around she said no so if you bring her around so she spacing on a diagonal facing me this way would be great so if you bring bring here so she's doing it herself she's gonna just doing a dance ballerina pig eyes and she just the most precious oh so what if you come round in front of her on the side actually and then she'll face you for sex when he wants the little bit of peanut butter and stuff around your face I'm not that worried about easily retouched out I'll get a shot a test shot first if it's really that obvious this is gorgeous with she is she is slipping on the paper just a little bit okay, so what we know is gonna do it here so it's a very, very split second that she sits he's gonna get way pump up the light of it but that's the power of up it is like she is doing a little dance it's gorgeous so what's that to get her to to get teo set for longer we give you something more chewy, teo probably yeah that's right? We're just look a thing of gummies as well for but even standing is really cute and it's actually possibly yeah no that's that's that's good giving you something more true she's going to stay she has to concentrate for longer it's a sooner she wants something more to eat she's just going to get up again. So for me to get this shot and often with pigs is about food so often really you've just got to capture the shot when you gonna anticipate for the mouth to be closed sometimes I can't really cute if you do catch it open because it looks like this smiling met sort of things so the fun thing is that she trying to get their attention to camera is always the the most challenging thing way get it if you got a tissue which I could just wipe your mouth with your wet one would probably wait one yep we'll regret it we might just do that before we just gonna do another test just she's right here for a second say no reaction to noise whatsoever which is going to be challenging it's gonna be challenging yeah the light's not ideal for for my liking me and my natural light always loving it from is there any way we can actually pull the blinds up just a little but mr yes it would be great if you can I think I just came with just down there just get that I'll see if I could get a little bit more don't you don't need it no no no no no it's not it's going to get just a little bit just underage I don't want you to eat it sweet no no no no no it's paper you look she's got what you need but she's still got it you got into the paint the other day and she said I could still see the remnants of its nothing look what's actually got quite specially got very be sure of that let's just take this video really gentle incredibly gentle yeah she might used to just thinks everything's food but it's coming from all over it's great being good or just going to see what natural light helped at all with what I'm wanting toe already so actually if you could just bring it back around again into the middle that would be great even shaken she can just stand there if you should if you want thinking maybe if you if you maybe give her one of the little gummies again and she might tonight I hope well she might be too far back there that would see real patients game but I love this standing even just standing side on it with you but when it if you bring up when she comes to if you stay into the paper just a little bit and then she won't walk too far forward I already put the two to god I could add she was watching it thinking it was falling off going further and further back she's got such beautiful shiny coat all ready mr thank you really e keep them she's not schooling. I know she just I'm just gonna move it back through the ford on it so that well peanut butter excellent. So if you bring if you bring around so you can walk all the way around with her and then bring your back taken to here and then just if you stand pretty close to her and then when I'm ready you can just sort of step just out of shot good kill penelope so you stay with him quite close did you need more food? Maybe great you're great but um just let me stay with you anymore let's take a little step back if we can roughly it was oh well wait we pump up the light even more because we've got such a black there's no way in this situation I would probably normally be shooting outside with a pig and completely natural light I'm to get really nice off even I don't think they don't make much difference that's even more uh did she slept for she oh see that's cool just just pump it up even more it's still yeah I'm just gonna move it forward a bit she's standing on e please perfect this year's that she said that's the paper probably I would probably normally use maybe a can respect around for her just because the papers not based thing for for her because she's slipping and sliding you should both be other leaning you talk about lenny gets the better but that's pie paper so she don't mean but there I'm just wondering have we got can I have that piece of fabric here because I might just lie that down and she might be able to sit on that wait if we fold up it's a very simple if you know anyone from yeah, that might and that's like if you see this, you can easily blend that into the background but it might make it easier for her to be on undersea with her. She might just scuffling around. I'm not sure, but it might stop me from slipping so you can see if you can bring it she's just gonna walk off but it says ideally what we need is to see if we can bring her to come in here I think you have food and if you keep it onto this little spot and she might be other state be a little bit more comfortable she's not setting for long because she's feeling of feet slip so she's just instantly getting up let's go it's going to do another tisk ascending to still need to get this life perfect still is just a little one if you can see how she staying on that spot now she feels more secure so that's great that she actually thinks okay this paper it's better for me to be on. So I'm gonna try and stay on this, which is great because it makes it easier for may because she's going to try and stay in one spot now, which is brilliant, what is right for you to get comfortable being back on up is there any other, any noises and things or anything what she visually watches? Uh, no, but if you say your name shall look up, maybe if you can come over here and maybe talk to her because she she'll recognise your voice so you just stay with me and we'll see if I'm just gonna actually international terror and your good firm voice to sit and then she might I'm just going to fix up this favorite horse she's kind of in a feeding frenzy, right? Yes, she is. I had so much fun. I know she's. Just like thinking this is the best thing since les let's breathe. Tell me when you want me. Okay, winter wind she settles getting cuter site watching she stands on the two to hose it off so I'm just gonna watch there. Yeah, yeah, she does feel more secure this emperor could you be a oh, maybe if grapes you see anything, you're just standing on it, you're just standing on its waiting up for you again she's not doesn't hear she's just getting so much happy you're right, you've got to be ready in a bit of it get it up a little higher yeah, but before okay, now the message face good she's doing great, so maybe a grapes or did she shoot for a while on those licorice way yeah dummies to you and the missus well yes or maybe just don't give me too many lally so it's not good yeah that's right I can retouch it out don't panic about the peanut butter penelope stay stay maybe she's in a bit of a feeding frenzy and lovett said she's getting all worked up yeah stay stay stay close close close pose pose pose good piggy banana b g oh no look at me look oh stay stay still looking on you I'm sorry. Yeah give it yeah that's great actually I'm actually with you staying a little bit more on stateside can't bring walk oh it's because of what's happening and she keeps standing on it which pulls it off okay wait just like that it's just a heavily they have a break and to stop feeding for a bit but she just stops getting there at the moment she just she is used to wander around for a bit and just forget about the food here is any ice cubes because she might be thirsty too after all that peanut butter you have given a drink way don't have water around does she want a bowl of water? No way do a couple questions but it sure let's take a break for a second okay, so I have a question here from sami john sticks who said I see you putting props on the pig can you hear me? Okay so sammy johnson I see you putting props on the pig I shoot pets in a shelter and props are not allowed what can I do to make their picture more special? I have gotten tongues out smiles tears up etcetera you have any tips for someone who is not allowed to use any props at all you just like I would have discussed in the last two days it's not always about the props props always cute to enhance sentiment but you don't have to have them animals of justice adorable on their own they don't need props so therefore it's just just try and catch the character get that if you just get that gorgeous expression which is going to give the image everything it needs yeah waive any questions in the studio audience all right, grab a mic if you do just a cheat us oh great fantastic thie exposure that you're trying to get the black on the gray you're just you're trying to bring it up and up and eventually and post I'm imagining your darkened penelope down to her black but you want to get sure that you capture enough in that case tell within the within the image it's it's very hard to tell on the monitor here but I'm just and also because I've got a lot of people working around here from capturing a shot, sometimes people are standing in front of the light was, well, it was just very, very hard to control hints why I love to work in natural light because it's a surround light so if when you're working with animals, if you do have people in and out of shot, you know, actually getting as much blockage here, I've got a very directional light from the flesh, and so therefore I've got people working the pig, and if you get that perfect shot, I'm still trying to capture us, but I'm not always getting the the the light, which I'm wanting so it's a catch true situation at the moment to get the perfect shot and make sure the light's perfect, but thank you, rachel, okay, I'm just saying, have we got any a piece of that gray carpet, which could work much better on here for penelope? Yeah, then the fabric was the fabric store moving around, but she definitely needs something to stop her from slipping on the on the background, but little pieces of two to everywhere she's walking on it, rachel another question about life. Because when we first started shooting, you said you're a bit concerned the flash might scare penelope and there's a question from babs in virginia who said why the preference for flash as opposed to continuous lights? And then sami john also said, you also shoot with the flash the animals that I work with at the shelter are afraid of the flash anyway to get them used to it. So what is your experience with having them out there to flash? And why wouldn't you use continuous? Well, as I'm always mentioned throughout my entire it's on workshop, my preference is natural light because it is weird animals are by far the most comfortable and it's also my preference for the look of the images. Well, in this situation, we haven't got enough natural light for me to work in, and also penelope is moving so much, there is no way I could like yesterday it was okay shooting a natural light on a slower shutter speed because I managed to get the the george bailey was really relaxed and his owner's arms and the kit was ended up being so relaxed on the hammock that we were able to shoot in a really slow shutter speed in natural light penelope completely different story she's moving all over the place. But as you say, normally I would be photographing outside and a much, much stronger available light to be able to capture this image, but here we have a studio environment I need to capture this and to teach you haven't worked with a pig, so I'm just doing what I can in this environment to be ableto do it but flesh with continuous light you probably need a lot more lights they also create a lot more heat if you're using flesh studio equipment esso I wouldn't probably use that purely because you gonna overheat the animal I'm so flesh is bitter in that regards, but my preference would still be to use natural life. Yeah, just a quick follow up question before you're sorry is when you are out there outside with natural light are you ever using backdrops or are you out in the environment? What does that look like when you're I do? But my next segment is gonna be talking about shooting more on location so in in the natural environment with an animal but often I take backgrounds with me to where the animals are actually situated I might work enough and I've photographed a pig in new zealand who was her name was piglets but she was not a piglets she was enormous a huge big new zealand white pig and I was and she lived in a mecha damian that orchard and I had a had a pink canvas background set up in the middle of this field and it was the light was very read ult away actually head and extension lee which ran a studio light to the field and I actually worked and how was talking about yesterday how I often work with the natural light with a little bit of phil flesh so I actually had one of these huge delight sit up in the middle of the field and the pig could wander off gone eating whom academia nuts then come back when she was really in things, so it was a a perfect environment to photograph a pig in that regards, but I had amazing, beautiful natural life as well I was just wanted to comment about the shelter, pets and flash photography that, um you have to get your flash off the camera because if it's near your face even if it's bounced yeah that's when it's really startling to them so if you get the flush off the camera that's, they're much more comfortable. I find that having it on the cameras it's saying it's not great white I believe you used flesh on the camera and I always have used a portable studio light situation but as they say I've got and the ones I actually one and the competition with my image of the pig wearing a watch we're smaller ellen crumb portable lights and they are brilliant. They fold down this small, soft boxes they fold down really compatible vory easily take able to move them from location to location and they are brilliant because they are not as cumbersome is a big soft box like this. I always had this with me, so if I have a van or a garage or something like that where I can work, where I can sit up a larger like then I will. But seriously, you often find me at someone's house and I am outside on the and what we call it an issue if you call it the carport here where it's uh, now it's, not it's, normal enclosed garage and often they've just like, got a beautiful plastic diffused covering over them. You'll see me there and like a, well weather's it's pouring with rain and wayne dripping down. Everybody hears me underneath this cover with backgrounds and just using the available light to create my images. So you just it's amazing the places you confined to work in if you have to, I'd love to create a book actually showing the background scenes of all the images of where I've shot all the images that you would be amazed actually we have some of these images have been created, yeah, so rachel question that I know you've spoken to several times, but we always have new people joining us s o do you always work at two point eight regardless of the animal size, it seems like a little more depth of field might be useful for larger animals where the shallow depth of field work while on smaller cats and rabbits. So just for the people who might just be joining us, can you talk about why you use such a shallow depth of field? What when I'm creating my images, I'm always wanting to draw people into the the actual eye contact within the image it's I'm still yet to connect with penelope she's so focused on food that I'm still what really wanting to try and get it to a stage where she is just gonna suddenly relax and I'm going to get that connection so at the moment really I'm still just sort of playing with it a bit in shooting, but the reason I used such a shallow depth of field is because it's going to draw people into the image for and draw them into the face and the actual expression on the animal's face you know that so they're not going to be being drawn more to her to two or anything which is in focus I'm aiming for that to be slightly out of focus so that the attention is drawn to the face of the animal all right, another question from christina who asked when you're working with farm animals or exotic animals, do you always ask for their health records or does that ever matter to you? Do you think about that? Of course I always I don't ask for the records as such, but you don't have to be very, very careful with contamination in between animals and things like a fine five minutes studio environment and I've had say little puppies coming I always make sure that used is that mentioned when we were working with poppy's you've gotta disinfect everything before you bring any other animals, and so that if there is any risk of contamination of disease or on fiction, kennel cough anything like that just gotta be really, really careful and this is the same with farm animals. If I've been working with farm animals, then I always disinfect all my gear, which has been used in association with them. The backgrounds get treated with a special spray as well, so because I've got a lot of campus backgrounds, which I use from within different shoots. But that's another reason why I do use fabric so much because you can put them in the washing machine and then gets rid of everything which is great or effort gets so damaged or soiled you just throw it away and gone by another, but but of fabric

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