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Not Your Average Pet

This assignment ran from Aug 1 to Aug 22, 2014.

What’s that you say? No pet is considered average in the eyes of its human. While this is true, what we’d like to do is turn the spotlight on those pets that rarely get the appreciation they deserve. Move over cats and dogs—there’s a new crowd in town.

Show us the unusual pet you love. From a frolicking fish to a lounging lizard, from a slithering snake to a romping rabbit—they come in all shapes and sizes. Hamsters, turtles, and gerbils, step right up because this is your month!

What is it about your pet that makes them so unique? Show us why you chose a chinchilla over a canine or a fish over a feline.

Curated by:

Monica C. Corcoran
Former Director, Your Shot
Assignment Status
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Published Sep 3, 2014.
Thank you for your contributions!

Behind the Edit

Posted sep 22, 2014

What was it like to edit almost 10,000 photos? Why did some photos make it and others didn't? Listen to my Behind the Edit on the Your Shot blog as I discuss two of my favorite photos with fellow editors Jeanne and Marie. 


Posted aug 20, 2014

After looking at a recent batch of photos submitted to this assignment, I started thinking that the word "expressionless" can be slightly misleading. Take, for example, a lizard or even a bird. At first glance you might think, How can I show the personality of my subject when its face doesn’t move—its expression seemingly frozen? On closer inspection you’ll realize it’s all about the eyes, or should I say the "smize"—smiling with your eyes. Apparently it’s a modeling thing, but I think pets have caught on. When was the last time your pet willed you to do something with its eyes?

Next time you're trying to get a good shot of your pet, concentrate on the eyes. Think about the light and how it plays with them. A catch light in the eyes provides spark where they might otherwise appear dull and lifeless. Both natural and indoor light can give you the glint you need.

Know Your Subject

Posted aug 15, 2014

When you think about photographing an animal, it might help to go about it as if you were shooting a person. Where does the subject feel most comfortable and at ease? When does their personality shine through? What do they love doing the most? Questions like these will help you figure out the best time and location to capture the most telling shot—a photo that lets the viewer know more about the subject. What story do you want to tell about your pet? What information do you want to impart?

There are certainly great photos that were captured unexpectedly and happened randomly, but most photographers would tell you that it pays to put in the time and effort before going out in the field. Do your research! Know your subject.

Does your lizard love cherries? Then bring him a handful and start snapping.

More Than Meets The Eye

Posted aug 1, 2014

As with any assignment, regardless of the subject matter, the aim of the photographer should be to get a photo that is unique. Ideally you want a photo that grabs the editor’s attention because they have never seen anything like it before. This can be tough because editors typically have looked at hundreds of thousands of images. But the beauty of photography is that with a little luck and patience, you can find magic in the most mundane situation. So wait for that perfect light, know your subject, and be ready to capture that moment.

A photo of a fluffy rabbit is certainly cute, but take the photo to the next level and watch how it interacts with children or other pets. What behaviors or traits does your pet have that make it so endearing to you? Even a pet photo can tell a story and that is what this assignment is all about. I love all animals but have always owned “boring” cats and dogs. Show me what I am missing with your photos this month.

Monica C. Corcoran

Monica C. Corcoran

Former Director, Your Shot
Monica C. Corcoran is an award-winning photography producer with 20 years experience in visual storytelling. She is a former director at National Geographic for the Your Shot photo community.