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Pet Perfect Photography Pointers

Celebrate Your Furry, Fin & Winged Friends!

Everyone loves to show off their cutest and funniest pet photographs. Whether it be dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, turtles, fish, peacocks, or whatever pet you have, we all want to celebrate our creatures with email blasts and Facebook posts. Here are a few tips to help you get prize-winning photographs. So whether you are planning to shoot photos of your family pets with your cell phone or a 35mm digital camera, make sure it is fun!


Get Ready: Set aside some special time for you and your pet when the lighting will be best for indoor and outdoor photo sessions. Make sure your pet is well-groomed, bathed, brushed, clean, and rested. Select photo session locations where your pet is most comfortable. Couches, chairs, beds, and backyard play spaces make perfect backdrops. If you have more than one dog or a variety of pets, consider posing them together.


Natural Lighting Is Best! In order to best capture their expressions, looks, and movements, use fast shutter speeds with soft yet bright natural lighting. Avoid overly harsh lighting situations. Natural light will help avoid the bright flash, which many pets are afraid of. Plus, diffused natural light will eliminate the bright light flash that is unattractively reflective in their eyes. Flash photography also works for indoor poses. I like to pose our pet dogs perched up on a couch with a big solid-color blanket for the background, so their faces and images will really pop out. American flags and other colored blankets and sheets work well. I have used professional studio lighting with seamless backdrops, yet it really isn’t necessary.


Focus On Creative Angles! If you have a cat or dog, get on the floor with them for some of your best photographs. Try to shoot from a low angle at their eye level or lower. Whether you shoot close-ups or full body shots, focus on capturing their eyes so that they will look right at you. Shoot a variety of creative angles! For example, you may want to put your pet puppies and kittens on top of glass tables while crawling underneath for a bottoms-up angle.

Like most of our greatest photos of people, everyone wants to feel they are making eye contact with you and your pets. So wave a toy, treat, or something over your camera and head – so your pet will look directly at you. Use squeaky toys, whistles, and other visually eye-catching devices that will get your pets to look at your camera lens. You may even share a bit of peanut butter for your puppies to enjoy for extra fun tongue-licking images.


Create Fun Poses: Research a variety of good pet photo poses on the Internet, so you can try to replicate some of the poses while creating your own imagery.


Powerful Props: Get ready to use some small extra hats, toys, balls, colorful bandanas, miniature flags, and Americana props when photographing dogs and cats. Keep your photographs neat and simple. Avoid background clutter.


Spark Their Character! The most basic goal in dog photography is to capture your best friend’s character and personality. Getting their attention for your preferred action poses may be tricky. The use of fast shutter speeds and adjusted ISO camera settings will help you freeze the action. DSLR cameras will allow you to shoot in a burst of ongoing snapshots, so you will be able to select the best pose. Pet photos make terrific Facebook posts and computer screen savers while sharing fun birthday, holiday, and seasonal greetings. Use Photoshop or a software program to add clever messages to your pet photographs. Whether you use automatic or manual camera settings, plan for you and your pets to have a good time.


Be In The Photos! Get someone else to help with your pet family photos. You will capture the best heart-warming images when you and your children are in the photos with your pets. Within limits, pets will make great additions to your family portraits, engagement, and wedding photos!

Pet Rewards! Share their favorite treats, affectionate pats on the head, and gentle belly rubs if appropriate for your dogs and cats throughout your photo session.

Help Dogs & Cats In Need! Volunteer to help your local pet shelter and pet rescue center by taking photographs of the furry friends who are waiting for adoptions. This will give you extra practice, and the published photographs will help the pets find new homes.

Exotic Pets & Animals: Many people love to photograph more exotic animals. Venture out to the local animal reserve, a zoo, or a nearby farm, to create some exciting photographic images.

Creative Artistry: Consider the use of Photoshop or some other photo enhancing software to posterize your pet and animal photographs, making them look like paintings.


Patience, Personality & Practice Makes Perfect! Since your pets won’t take directions or any call to ‘smile’ or ‘look here,’ it takes patience. Share very soft and gentle comments to keep your dog relaxed and your cat calm. Don’t scream or raise your voice. Plan to make it fun, so you will all have a good time while capturing their personality. Be ready to shoot dozens and dozens of images just to get one or two terrific photographs. The more you photograph your pets, the more comfortable they will become with the experience.