Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Furry family and friends

This month’s assignment for the Readers Photo Challenge is something that we all know and love: pets.

(11/05/03) Afgan “Speed” is walked by dog-show handler Jeanine Rendon-Atkins at her home near Linden. [CLIFFORD OTO/RECORD PHOTO]

We spend as much of our time as we can with our pets.
Be it a dog, cat, parakeet or llama, we love them as members of our families. But this isn’t just a pet challenge but a photography one as well. Go beyond relying on just your pet’s beauty or cuteness. Use sound photographic principles to take a great picture of your pet.

(12/1/17) Eight-month-old Pomeranian Simvol Goda Kelly from Klamath Falls, Oregon awaits judging at the Golden Valley Kennel Club’s annual dog show at the San Joaquin Fairgrounds in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

The tips for a good picture of a pet are similar for like taking good photos of a person. Get in as close as you can. Too often pictures of our pets are taken from too far away. Try to fill the frame as much as possible.

(03/08/05) Kristen Perry of Galt, takes advantage of the warm weather to play with her new pet long hair rabbit Fuzzy at Micke Grove Park near Lodi. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

First of all be patient with your pet. Most animals have relatively short attention spans. Patience is the key to getting the just the right expression or moment.

(7/30/18) Cathy Garvish of Lodi paddles a kayak with her 5-year-old border collie/doberman pinscher-mix Zane aboard during the Headwaters Kayaks’ Dog Paddle event at Lodi Lake in Lodi. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Watch your backgrounds. You wouldn’t want a tree branch or telephone pole sprouting out of your aunt Sadie’s head, so it also be something to be avoided when taking a picture of Fido.
A tip for taking portraits of people is to make sure that you focus on their eyes. The same goes for your pets. The eyes can me most expressive facial feature be it human or beast.

(8/10/16) 2-year-old chihuahua Sam balances on the shoulder of his owner Sabrina Price as she waits to pick up her granddaughter from her first day of school at Acacia Elementary School in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Try to capture your pet’s personality. If your animal is energetic, then take them out to a park and get pictures of them playing. If yours is a homebody, then perhaps get them laying in their favorite spot in the sun. Only you know best what they are like.

Dogs and cats have a special reflective layer at the back of their eyes called the tapetum lucidum. It helps them see in dark situations. Try to avoid using a flash unless you want to give that devil dog/cat look.

(11/14/07) Wayne Earthman of Mount Hamilton takes advantage of the sunny day to walk his pet Moluccan cockatoo Tibby near Buckley Cove in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

If you don’t have a pet you still can participate in the challenge because they don’t have to be yours, you can borrow someone else’s. You can photograph the pet alone or with it’s owner. In fact, a portrait of both can show connection between the two. Some people can be a bit shy or reticent in having their picture taken but often, if they have a pet, they will consider sitting for a portrait if their dog or cat can sit with them.

(8/24/17) Cindy Johnston and her pet chihuahua Cookie play the accordion for passersby at the Throwback Thursday along Pacific Avenue on the Miracle Mile between Harding Way and Castle Street in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

This is the second time that we’re holding a pet challenge.The first one was about 6 years ago and proved to be very popular so the number of entries will be limited to 10. But that’s 10 opportunities to give your abilities and pets to shine.

(5/8/19) Attorney Vittoria Bossi watches as her cat Ray eats in her office in the Waterfront Warehouse in downtown Stockton.[CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

How to enter:

1. Entries can be emailed to The preferred format is jpeg. Type in “Pets” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be taken between February 4 and February 18.

3. The number of photos is limited to 10.

4. Include your name (first and last), hometown, the kind of device you used and there the photo was taken (eg.: John Doe of Stockton, Canon Rebel T6i with 18-55mm lens. Victory Park, Thornton).

5. If there is a recognizable person or persons in the photo please identify them (name, age, hometown) and describe what is going on in the photo (eg.: “Jane Doe, 18, walks her 3 dogs Fido, Spot and Arnold through Victory Park in Stockton.”)

6. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.

7. The deadline for submission is February 18. The top examples will be published on February 25 with an online gallery of all the photos on the same day at

(7/20/10) Alex Cantaloupi, 20, of Stockton gives her 2-year-old female west highland terrier Zoe a bike ride along Thornton Road near A.G. Spanos Boulevard in Stockton. Cantaloupi transported Zoe in a pet carrier slung over her shoulder. She said that her dog grew up using the carrier and although she is too big for it, she still likes riding in it with her head sticking out. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

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