Start by bathing all your pets with a vet approved flea shampoo. Wet the coat and thoroughly apply the shampoo working up a lather. Let the shampoo remain on the pet’s coat for at least 10 minutes. This is necessary to kill eggs and larvae on the pet. After bathing your pet, dry its coat completely. You may need to bathe it twice a week until the infestation is under control.
On the next day, vacuum the house as you normally do. The Borax/DE powder acts as a dehydrator and dries up tissues and organs of fleas. It also contaminates the food sources left by adult fleas for the larvae. This prevents them from feeding and progressing through the life cycle stages.
Buy food grade Diatomaceous Earth powder or Borax detergent such as Borax Booster from Wal-Mart or other home depot stores. Liberally dust the powder of your choice all over the carpets. Do not forget to apply under the beds and furniture. You can use a brush or a broom to sweep the powder everywhere. Do not vacuum these areas. Let the powder remain on the surface for 3-4 days. Avoid sleeping in the treated rooms as the dust can be harmful to human lungs. Also relocate pets to a safe area during the course of treatment.
Thoroughly vacuum each room in the house. Make sure you reach behind furniture as well. Also vacuum upholstered furniture. Seal the vacuum bags and discard them outdoors. This is an important tip to remove the source of new fleas.
Unless you are adept at documentary, on-the-fly, photography where the animal is moving a lot and you capture the perfect moment of them walking, sniffing, jumping, hunting, etc., learn to move slowly around them while taking their pictures. This is especially important with cats, who are prone to either radically change the expression on their face (and ears) at your slight movements, or split the scene altogether. This is also true of dogs that are in a sit or lay-stay position. When you shift position they sense you are off on a new adventure and want to follow you. If you need to move, and you don’t want your model to move, do so very slowly without making any eye contact. And remember to reach, bend, and lean. You’ll not only have a comical pet photography session, you’ll get a workout too!
There is no quicker way to confuse a dog, or freak out a cat than to bark commands at them repeatedly. Cats will disengage or even leave the room, and dogs will become confused and concerned. Try communicating with the pets the way they do each other- nonverbally. Use hand signals or point to invite them ‘over here’. Use the sit hand signal for dogs that understand it. If you do need to say ’sit’, say it quietly and calmly, only once or twice. Avoid saying the pet’s name, because the more times they hear it during a photo shoot, the more inclined they are to tune out. In my opinion, there’s nothing worse than a photographer (and an owner), hovering over a little dog and saying “sit Charlie,… no- SIT. I said Charlie sit. Sit. Down! Sit Charlie. Charlie- sit. Siiiit. SIT”. Poor Charlie! No wonder he’s confused. The less talking and ‘commanding’ you do, the better the shoot will be, and the more little Charlie will pay attention and ‘listen’.
Every animal needs to have some sort of motivation to pay attention to you during the shoot; otherwise they will wander off and become disinterested. Determine what they are motivated by (i.e. their ‘payment’), and provide it to them throughout your shoot. For dogs it may be treats or toys, or simply getting love and affection. For cats it may be a feather toy, a paper bag, tuna fish, catnip or even their favourite blanket. For horses it may be their favourite food such as carrots or apples. The biggest ‘trick’ in pet photography is to fool the animal into thinking that they are making the decisions, when it’s really you that is motivating them to do what you want, without telling them so outright . The ‘getting them to do what you want’ comes in the model payment. Get creative when it comes to ‘rewarding’ your models, and they will reward you with great shots and be more cooperative too. Plus the shoot will be more fun, and pet photography is supposed to be fun!
Good light is everything in photography, especially in pet photography, where it’s critical to be able to see the catchlights in the pet’s eyes (the white reflective parts). Avoid photographing in dark rooms or under heavily overcast days. Bright yet diffused light is the easiest to create flattering pet portraits under, so before you even start shooting, take a look around your subject’s environment and determine where the best bright, yet diffused light is; then move to that location.
If you have ever watched a professional pet photographer in action, you will notice that they bend and twist and turn and crouch and crawl – whatever it takes to get the shot. Be prepared to get those muscles working in order to get the perfect composition. Sometimes all it takes for a dog to break their sit-stay is for you to go from sitting to standing, and it’s better to reach and lean, than make a large movement that will cause the pet to move from their perfect pose.
While a few shots looking down at your pet, while you are standing can be cute – to create the really engaging portraits the pros make, shoot down at their level, ‘in their world’. For a Great Dane their world may be the height of your hips; for a Chihuahua it may be all the way down at the level of your ankles. For a cat lounging on a cat tree, you may need to pull out a step stool to get on their level. Practice ‘shooting from the hip’ to place the camera in their world without having to crouch or kneel if they are on the ground.