Tips for Working with Animals On Set

There’s an old saying in the entertainment business: “Never work with children or animals.” But someone’s got to do it, right?

You can capture amazing animal shots with a bit of know-how from The Slanted Lens. Jay P Morgan has worked with all kinds of animals, from dangerous predators to dogs, cats, and even a goat. In this video, he shares his tips and tricks for working with animals and getting great shots:

Morgan runs through a list of important things to keep in mind when capturing stills or video of animals.

  • Design your shot around the animal. Keep a place where the trainer can see the animal, and the animal can see them.
  • Where do you want the animal to look? If you want to get it to look at the camera, you need to get the owner or trainer as close to the camera as possible.

hippo photography

  • Work with your animal trainer. Listen to what they say, and ask their advice on how to get a great shot of the animal.
  • If you’re shooting video, keep it as simple as possible. Don’t have lots of stuff going on around the animal, or cameras moving around.
  • Use treats to keep the animal’s motivation high.
  • Don’t turn your back on a predator. Always be aware of what they are doing, and don’t get complacent around them.

photography with a tiger

  • Be patient, and work on the animal’s time frame.
  • Be ready to catch that shot! You can miss great shots if you’re not concentrating.
  • Get rid of all distractions on set. Even people talking quietly or walking around can distract an animal.

elephant photography

“You know, I learn every time I shoot with an animal I learn something new, every single time.”

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Dawn Gilfillan

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