Beautiful Pet Images and Photography Techniques

In Victoria, British Columbia, award-winning pet photographer Sarah Bourque offers entertaining picture sessions of four-legged pals that don’t include posing in a studio but rather take place outdoors while a pet is doing what they do best. The beauty and authenticity of Bourque’s photographs show off her love of both photography and animals.

For eight years, Bourque worked as a toy designer before dedicating her entirely to photography. Her experience in design motivates her to keep doing new things and participating in original photo projects in order to push the limits of creativity in her work. Every cute, furry face gives distinct traits and a thrill that continues to remind Bourque why she likes the job she does, thus she enjoys photographing all kinds of animals.
Although Bourque is a gifted photographer, what makes her work stand out are the sincere personalities that she is able to convey in each creature that she photos. We enquired more about how she got started and if she had any advice for pet photographers.

How did you get into photography, and why did you decide to specialize on pet photography? Do you have any other favorite photographic subjects?

I’ve always loved taking pictures, but in 2011 I purchased a Canon T3i. I was enamored since it was my first DSLR. Walter, also known as Wally, and Rupert, also known as Mr. Roops, were our two adorable dogs, and we were living in Edmonton at the time. When I first began using them as my models, I was overjoyed by the dog happiness I was able to capture in the pictures. They are loud and always up to no good. I rapidly realized that I had finally discovered my vocation.
Since I lack professional expertise in photography, I made the decision to set the camera to manual mode and learn all I could. Let me tell you, a white dog moving swiftly and a lot of snow will force you to learn about your camera’s capabilities very soon. I had a lot of experiences with that small camera, but after six years it was becoming a bit worn out. I began collecting my nickels for a full-frame after realizing I needed an update. I did a lot of research before deciding on the Nikon D750, which I was able to buy in March and I really adore! Fast and excellent in low light conditions.

My next piece of equipment will be a new macro lens since I really like taking macro photos (I’m a sucker for backlight and dew droplets). I discovered that once I began seeing the world through the lens of a photographer, I began to notice a lot of nuances that I may have previously overlooked.

You’ve had a lot of your images featured and honored. Which one has meant the most to you or is the one you are most proud of?

It was an incredible feeling the first time I saw one of my dog images in a magazine. The one that will always be remembered is when Walter appeared on the cover of the UK-based journal Photography Monthly. They had seen my work online and requested permission to run a feature; therefore, I was really anxious before the Skype interview. All of this took place around the time we chose to relocate from Edmonton to Victoria and that I would concentrate on developing my photography as a business. It was incredibly amazing to learn that a picture of Walter had been picked for the magazine cover while I was still in the middle of the relocation! I saw it as confirmation that I was on the right track, while Walter interpreted it as proof that he was a supermodel and so deserving of extra rewards.

What are your best methods and suggestions for photographing dogs well?

When I shoot pictures of pets, I always follow a few rules.

stoop low. Don’t be scared to get down on the floor and filthy. This offers a fantastic vantage point of the animal, particularly for action pictures.
Employ a quick shutter. Particularly when there is a lot of running and hopping, I never like to go below 1/1000 sec. To achieve a clear photo, I increase the ISO as high as necessary.
Keep some tasty goodies and a squeaker in your pocket; if you don’t have a squeaker, be ready to make plenty of silly sounds to capture their attention.
Study a little Photoshop. I use Lightroom for 90% of my editing since I find Photoshop to be a bit intimidating. I did, however, make a point of learning how to untie leashes. I studied internet instructions, and each time we went for a walk, I made sure to take a picture of myself on a leash so I could practice. Although it takes time, it really improves a photograph. Because safety is crucial and not all dogs can be off-leash, it’s convenient to have the option of editing the images after the fact. Additionally effective are unclean whiskers and eye goobers while using this method.
Bear in mind that animals will do their own thing, so be patient and adaptable. I usually give them a few moments to assess me and become acclimated to the camera. I essentially let them direct the picture session while I captured all of their magnificence.

What suggestions do you have for owners who want to show up ready for a pet picture shoot?

Bring some of their favorite snacks, go for a little walk first (if their dogs are active), and give them any necessary primping. I would only give Walter and Rupert a short brush since they often have filthy beards. I also let owners know that picture shoots are designed to be enjoyable and highlight each pet’s own personality.

It may be quite difficult to lose a pet since they are so precious. What are your feelings around loosing a furry buddy, and how do you use photography in these circumstances?

Considering how important pets are to our lives and how much of an influence they have on our hearts, I believe it is lovely to save memories of your pet. For dogs that are older, I provide a unique senior picture session. We might relax in their lawn or take a leisurely walk in their preferred park. This is true for sickly pets as well. Even if these fuzzy animals are only in our lives for a short while, there is still a lot of affection for them.