Watching her chocolate Labrador frolic through a lily field this summer would have been a heartwarming moment whether Sarah Price had her camera ready or not. Thankfully, she did.
Now the spontaneous picture she captured that day of 9-year-old Ruby -- aging but still energetic -- romping in a colorful field near Lacamas Lake has become her favorite photo. The image means much to her now, and will mean even more with time.
"You can tell she's so happy to be outside with us," Price said. "That's one (photo) I'm going to enjoy looking back on."
As she wraps up her first year operating Sarah Jane Photography, specializing in pet portraits, the Vancouver woman realizes just how important pictures are to animal owners. She knows a good photo is a fond memory frozen in time.
The Columbian recently asked Clark County pet owners to share their favorite pet photos and why they are special to them. The submissions (see online photo gallery) ranged from funny to sweet, high-quality to a bit blurry. But they had one unifying factor: the images touched the pet owners' hearts.
"The best pictures are the ones where you catch them being themselves," Price said. "It's being able to capture the connection that they have with us."
Pet photography 101
We asked Columbian readers to share tips on how to get the best pet portraits, whether it’s photographing a hyper puppy or a shy cockatoo. Here are some suggestions in time for the holidays:
Be ready. Many of the best photos come from spontaneity. A photogenic moment can happen in a split second, so make sure your camera is always ready with a charged battery and available memory card.
Snap away. Modern digital cameras, unlike film, can store thousands of pictures on a thumbnail-sized memory card. That means you can shoot to your heart’s content without worrying about lab costs or pricey film. Once you’ve gotten dozens, or even hundreds, of pictures, you can pick and choose what photos truly stand out.
Patience is a virtue. While it might be aggravating when your animal flees while you’re trying to get a picture, remember that it’s in their nature to not sit still for long. Try waiting until the animal is calm or resting to start the shoot or even try bribing it with a treat or favorite toy.
Know your pet. Does your animal enjoy playing fetch? Are they known to roll over on their back? Understanding your pet’s habits will help you anticipate what will make the best photo. If they are in a noticeably playful mood, maybe it’s time to grab the camera.
Pet’s eye view. If your photos are turning out dull, try getting down low. Often shifting to a different perspective, in this case being level with your pet’s eye line, will make the photos more intriguing and personal. Try crouching down to get a straight shot rather than one from above.
If you go
What: Holiday pet portraits by the Humane Society for Southwest Washington
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Dec. 7
Where: All Natural Pet Supply, 10501 N.E. Highway 99
Cost: $30 for five photos