pet photography

10 tips for photographing your pets

Today more and more people have pets: dogs, cats or even ferret ! So why not mixing your passion for photography with love for animals?

Photographing your pet may seem simple, but it must meet several principles for beautiful pictures without annoying your pet.

cat run

1  Use the right settings

Shutter Speed
An animal is an unpredictable being, it will have difficulties focusing in front of your camera, this is why you should use the speed priority mode.

Tune up
It’s very likely that your little monster is in perpetual motion, to have the best chances of getting a sharp image, focus on the quality of the tune up.

Burst mode
You should think to set burst mode to not miss the best picture! Be careful though burst mode you tend to take too many pictures, so try to constantly sort your images up.

Light metering – Exposure compensation
Watch your shooting according to the decor and the color(s) of your pet there will be some adjustments to carry out:

If you fill the whole image with the hairs of your black/white cat, your camera will tend to over/under expose the image because too many white/black in the image. To correct that, you just have to apply a manual exposure compensation.
Ditto for the measurement of light, if your background is clear and your pet has dark hair you will change the metering mode.

owl focus on eyes

2  Make the focus on the eyes

This advice applies to portraits but also applicable to animal photography. Always make your focus on the eyes of your model.
This advice is especially true if you are using a large aperture, if you have an opening of 1.4 and if your focus is made on the nose you may have blurred the eyes of your pet!

The secret of a beautiful animal picture (and also classic portrait) is the importance given to the eyes! We are always naturally attract by the eyes, which is why it should be given much importance.

dog beach

3  Prepare your photo shoot

An animal has rarely the patience to stay motionless while you are taking photos, he will be continually distracted and attracted by its environment. This is why it is important to plan most of your session by providing:
The different images you would have (compositions of ideas to use)
The different places where you want to take a picture
The different focal lengths you will use (50mm wide angle …)

cat play

4  Use props

To put your pet at ease do not hesitate to use some accessories he loves.
Whether a ball, a stuffed toy or even kibble, use it as a reward for his work and concentration (because it’s worth it…)

You can also put music if he (or she) is receptive!


5  The importance of light

Light is an essential element in photography; for the best possible images of your little bundle of joy I recommend:

Use of natural sunlight
If possible through a large bay window or a soft light of late afternoon
Avoid maximum flashes that disturb the animal (and can alter the natural color of its coat!)
Use white walls as reflectors
Avoid the light that comes front or behind it, prefer a light from one side

cat fish

6  Be on the alert

It is impossible to predict the reactions of an animal, so you will need patience to take the best photos of your pet.
Try to put it in the best conditions to make beautiful pictures, and stay discreet.

Become a kind of “paparazzi” to capture interesting moments. If he constantly sees your device, he will probably do not have a natural behavior, then hide it discreetly and shoot quickly.

Feel free to use zoom to be able to put some distance.

smart bird

7  Please ask

Plan a moment a little more “directional” in which you try to find interesting postures for your pet. For that here are some tips:

Identify some ideas of postures
Bring yourself down to your pet’s eyes. It is essential in wildlife photography so do not be afraid to crawl or lie down.
Bring a friend to hold your pet when certain poses are atypical.
Do not try to control him too much, let the animal be natural up
Avoid tripod, a monopod could be a useful accessory

attractive dog

8  Bring out the personality of your animal

You know your pet(s) better than anyone, so try to take “faithful” pictures
If your pet is hyperactive, then take pictures of him while he is jumping or running, conversely if he is a big lazy one, take him while he is snoring.
Keep in mind the importance of natural, animal cannot really be controlled and if you want the faithful and touching pictures, so let him be himself.

underwater dog

9  Put it in action

For even more original pictures, do not be afraid to put your pet in “sport” conditions. If he likes running after a ball, a Frisbee or playing catch with a ball of wool… You know what you have to do.
Do not be afraid to go in a park or garden or you’ll have more space and a perfect playground to let him burst.


10  Be creative

Finally last tip, the photography remains an artistic leisure so be creative and have fun. For this you can spice up your photo shooting in different ways:

Change the screenplay and background, test different environments
Add a second person to your photo, a child or a person with whom your pet gets along (well OK he loves you but I’m sure you will find someone he tolerates)
Add a second animal, if yours is not too aggressive and you’ll get different photos
Dress him up or add him little funs and fun accessories (hat, scarf etc. …)
For best results there are other techniques to improve your talent of photographer,

I hope this article will help you make better pictures and have fun with your favorite pet!