Playful Portraits

Lauren Pusateri creates portraits that capture pets’ personalities.

Lauren Pusateri, photographer and creative director, has a portfolio chock full of colorful product photography alongside dynamic portraits of humans as well as cats and dogs. She describes her photography as playful, colorful and precise. 

“Color is a fun way to amplify any message,” she says. “Got something to say? Say it louder with color!”

Her approach for portraits remains consistent among different subjects—considering different variables to highlight what makes them unique. 

“Portraiture is all about using different lighting setups based on your subject—think hair color, skin tone, and even age of the subject,” she says. “I focus my lighting techniques with animals to bring out their unique traits and characteristics. I consider the length of coat, stature, their eyes...how I can light the subject to bring out the unique characteristics of the animal.”

When considering colors for the background of a personal photoshoot, she will select one based on what she’s feeling that day or pick a color she hasn’t used in a while to spice things up. Ultimately, she doesn’t want her work to be tied to any specific color family, so she will throw in neutral colors or an unexpected bold color into the mix. She mentions that her portfolio showcases a lot of pinks and pastel blues, primarily because she likes the way dogs pop off of pastel colors. 

“I’m endlessly fascinated by creating and shaping light,” she says. “You can change the [message] of an image with the placement, shape and angle of light. This also affects the mood of the image. Just a slight change of light modifier can take the image from flat to dramatic.”

During a photoshoot, Pusateri says she is always moving and will typically hit her step goal on shoot days well before lunch. 

“The style of my shooting is really animated,” she says. “I’m laying down, tummy-first stretched out on the floor, or I’m pretzeled into some other position to get that shot. I’m not sure how other photographers work, but for as long as my body is able to do so, I will 110 percent sacrifice any of my own personal comfort to get that shot.” 

She adds that anticipation, composition and timing contribute to a successful photoshoot. 

“Animals don’t have the same patience that humans do to sit still for a session, so it’s anticipating movement and being quick to capture those magical moments when you have their attention and they’re hitting their mark,” she says.

Working with animals presents its own challenges, such as the communication barrier or short attention spans, but she has found many benefits in her work, like the joy dogs bring to set. 

“My family didn’t have pets growing up, so for a girl who asked Santa for a puppy every year—I’ve got the dream job!” she says. 

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