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  • Writer's pictureFran Mackintosh

Post Production in Pet Photography photoshoots - How I “Fix it in Post”

A lot of people may not realise the extent of the editing that is possible in this day and age. While it is always preferable to capture an image as close to how you want it to end up while you’re still on the shoot, sometimes it is necessary to fix or change things later in post production.

This is where I have an advantage. I spent 8 years working in post production for TV commercials so I am more than aware of what is possible and what I am capable of achieving in post. Below are 5 examples of edits I do regularly.

Simple Edit:

The vast majority of the time I don’t spend a long time editing an image. I will pull it in to my computer software and adjust the colours and the contrast and maybe change the crop. I will also clean the image up to remove any loose hairs or eye/nose gunk and dribbles. The idea is not to change how your pet looks, but to enhance them so they are looking absolutely stunning!

This was actually a simple edit. Once I had cropped out the distracting elements in the background it was simply a case of adjusting the contrast and the hue of the green grass to make Reggie really pop from the background.

Head Swap: Sometimes everything might go perfectly in one image, except the facial expression. When this happens I often have another image with the perfect facial expression but something else slightly off. With photoshop, I can take the perfect facial expression and composite it onto the perfect background to create one perfect image. If I’ve done my job well enough you would never know that this has been done!

This was at the end of a shoot on a very hot day and poor Ralph didn't want to look at me anymore no matter what I did! (I can't blame him) Luckily I managed to get a shot of him looking my way when he lay down in this same location a few seconds later. I knew I wanted him sitting up and framed by the trees however so I composited the head where he was looking my way onto the image where his body is in the right place and brought my vision to life.

Background Cleanup:

Sometimes there’s only so much I can do on location, and I know that I will have to tidy up a background in post. Whether it’s removing distracting weeds, branches or other elements, I will make sure there is nothing distracting in the background which will take your focus away from how awesome your pet looks.

In this image the bright sky is drawing attention away from Garfield, as is the metal object in the foreground by his feet. Removing these elements means that you focus on his majesty instead!

Removing Leads/headcollars:

Sometimes the location requires dogs to be on leads, or the behaviour of the animal means it’s necessary to wear a headcollar, bridle, harness, collar etc. Do not worry about them ruining your images, because I can shoot in a way so that it is easy to remove them! Removing big collars and harnesses can be more tricky so if it is possible I will try to take the photo without them. In the rare case that I will not be able to remove something in post I will let you know ahead of time.

I wasn't a huge fan of the ill-fitting purple headcollar that jack was wearing and luckily I was able to remove it completely. If you only saw the final image I don't think you would ever guess that he was originally wearing a headcollar!

Removing YOU!

Sometimes in order to get your pup to sit perfectly still or to get your cat to look my way it is necessary for you to get close to them to help them feel calm and comfortable - which is a high priority for me! Knowing this, I can take an image of the background without you on it as well and simply remove you from the finished image. I use this alot as it is a very quick and simple edit, and can often make the animals more relaxed and willing to sit or stand where I want them to for longer. A happy animal will make for more beautiful images!

My husband was playing the role of dog-wrangler on this occasion to help Ralph stand in the right place and look the right way! He did a great job, but he had to go from the finished image.

As much as we all like to achieve the perfect image in camera, sometimes some post production is necessary. I wanted to pull the curtain back a little to give you all some insight on why it can take a couple of weeks to produce your final images, especially if more complicated edits are required.

If anyone has an artistic idea that requires a lot of post production work, such as making it look like your dog is walking on the moon, I offer creative composites which are priced individually based on the amount of time it will take to shoot and edit. Please challenge me! I love to get creative with my editing.

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