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Pet Photography

Last Updated 6th November 2012

Pets are so cute and adorable that they deserve their own photoshoot. We see a number of photos online of pets doing quirky poses or shots taken at just the perfect moment. But every time we try that, we end up getting blurry shots, or we tend to catch them looking angry or scared. But you don’t have to stop trying. This article is here to help you get the best shots and capture your pets’ personality. It will mainly deal with photographing cats and dogs, but you’ll also get tips for your feathered, scaly, and aquatic pets.

professional pet photography tips


Lighting is essential in photography, it can make or break your photos. You might have experienced taking a photo of your cute little puppy and when you see the image, you get spooked as a red-eye causes him to get that evil look. Or sometimes, after you’ve spent hours grooming your kitty when you look at the picture, you see nothing but a ball of fur.

To avoid the damages caused by bad lighting, here are a few instructions you might want to follow.

1. Avoid using your camera’s flash as they tend to reflect directly from your pet’s eyes. You can go with an off-camera flash if you really find the need to use one.

2. Natural light from outside is ideal to use. Just avoid direct sunlight.

3. Taking the pet’s photo outside would be nice. But if the circumstances don’t permit you to do so, you can just place your pet near the window so you get some light from outside.

4. If you want to take great shots and natural light isn’t working for you, rent indoor lighting equipment even just for a day.

5. Your pet’s natural colors look great. So avoid using fluorescent or tungsten lighting so as not to distort them.

Positioning and Perspective

You’re most probably taller than your pets. But that doesn’t mean you have to take their pictures at your natural angle. When you take their shots, position yourself at their level in order to get their perspective. You can also keep these tips in mind:

1. Lying on the floor or placing your pets on a higher surface will help you get a more original perspective.

2. Use the zoom feature of your camera to zoom in on your pet if you want to take close up shots of their face.

3. If your pet is acting out or moving about even after you’ve given him enough time to sit still and calm down, you don’t have to postpone taking your shots. You can simply ask another person to hold your pet in place while you take the portrait, and then just edit the person out using computer software.

 professional pet photography tips

Capturing Your Pet’s Personality

In pet photography, it’s not about perfectly framing your subject at the center. The essence of your photo should be the way you were able to capture your pet’s personality. It’s the best way you can judge your photo. You may be able to that with these methods:

1. Capture your pets in their natural pose. You can try calling them or catching their attention with treats so you get them to  flash a “smile” or their version of it. If there’s something that brings out their personality the best, wait for that moment and simply take the photo. For example, if your cat loves to lay on your crossword puzzle, you can choose to capture that scene.

2. They say patience is a virtue. It is especially true when it comes to pet photography. Be sure to keep your cool and avoid getting angry and yelling at your pet. You want his portrait to show him in a happy mood.

3. Your pet’s comfort must be a priority. You don’t want to show your lovely pet looking all miserable and preoccupied.

4. A good way to get your pet’s attention is to use treats or their favorite toy so utilise them. And don’t forget to reward your pet for a job well done during the whole photoshoot.

Photographing Your Pet Fish, Bird or Snake

Not all of us have cats, dog, and fluffy little mammals. Some of us prefer the colorful and interesting reptiles, birds and fish. They make very exciting subjects for photography. There are different ways to get the best shot of each of those kinds of pets and each presents a different challenge.

Photographing Your Pet Fish

The lights of your pet’s aquarium will be a good lighting source. Use them and turn off your flash. Take your photograph by placing your camera to the glass and waiting for your fish to swim by. If a flash is really necessary, you can still use it but angle your camera at 60° to avoid a hot spot in your photo.

professional pet photography tips

Photographing Your Pet Bird

The best way to capture a great shot of your pet bird is to train it to sit on your finger. That will be his natural pose. An interesting thing about birds that makes them exciting subjects are their colorful plumage. Choosing the background is important here so pick a color and pattern that will not clash with the bird’s feathers.

professional pet photography tips

Photographing Your Pet Snake (Or any reptile for that matter)

It won’t be easy to find someone who’ll be willing to hold your pet snake into a pose. If you want a close up shot, you can just use the zoom function of your camera to focus on your pet’s face, eyes or mouth. Placing your reptile in different environments will give variety and produce different feels in your photograph. If it’s usually in its tank, you can take him out for a while and let him run through the carpets or slither across a tiled floor.

professional pet photography tips

Photographing pets can be very challenging. It will take time. So you got to have patience, perseverance, and excellent planning. You might not be able to ace it the first time, but just go ahead and try again. And at the same time, keep in mind that it’s okay to stop what you’re doing if it becomes a burden for you or your pet. The comfort and needs of your pet should always be your priority. There’s plenty of time to take that perfect shot.


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