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How to take great pictures of your pets - without breaking the bank!

Posted by Jennifer Reece on

Be your own pet photographer!  

Photo courtesy of Pexels.  

Most people have great photos of their family members-- except their pets!  Pets are very hard to photograph because they move faster than we do, and their eyes reflect flash very differently.  


Everyone wants to take great pictures of their pets, but not everyone can afford professional photo shoots or an expensive camera.  We’ve collected some tips on how to capture great photos of your pet with whatever camera you have, smartphone, digital, whatever!

Bribing your pets with food or playthings is a smart photographer move!  Image courtesy of Pexels.  

Patience, Playthings, and Personality

When photographing pets, you really want to capture their personality.  To do this, you’ll need a ton of patience and some playthings.  

Patience is key when taking pet photos.  Just like with sports photography or snapping pictures of the kids, pets move fast!  Be willing to take A LOT of pictures-- many more than you expect!-- in order to get the best shot.   

And pet-- just like kids-- have a mind of their own.  Some pets won’t mind the camera or phone, and some will.  Be prepared to have a difficult time getting your pet to both pay attention and leave the camera alone.  

Don’t try to photograph your pet when they're excited to see you or have just woken up-- chances are they’re going to be too energetic or too irritated to put up with the camera and instruction.  

Try to have some treats and toys with you to keep them occupied or draw their attention where you wish.  It can also provide some well-needed breaks for both of you between takes.  

You also want to make sure that you utilize your knowledge of your pet.  If they have an affectionate personality, you’ll have a better chance of getting a fantastic picture if you wait for them to snuggle up to you.  If they have a playful personality and a lot of energy, you’re better off heading outside and letting them run around with toys-- just be sure to follow our camera tips.  

Get low and on their level.  It sets them at ease. Photo courtesy of Pexels.  

On Their Level, Through Their Eyes

Just like with children, getting down on your pet’s level is super-important.  It helps build a bond, and it reduces the frustration of trying to convince them to come to you.  

Being lower on their level relaxes most pets, and reducing your size makes you seem like less of a threat.  This is especially important with dogs, or with pets who have been rescued from abusive situations.  

Anyone can look down at their pet and snap a photo, but why not take the opportunity to photograph your pet from their level?  Seeing the world through their eyes not only gives you perspective, it also helps you to compose the shot better.  

Not to mention, it’ll make the picture more personal.  

Natural light with the eyes in focus is best.  Photo courtesy of Pexels.  

Natural Light in their Eyes

They say that the eyes are the window to the soul, and animals are no different.  And speaking of windows, try to use natural lighting.  

If a picture doesn’t have the pet’s eyes in focus-- or as the focus-- it’s not a good photograph.  Using flash inside can help, unless you’re using a point-and-shoot camera. Then avoid flash because the flash from point-and-shoot cameras has only one direction and over-saturates the picture with light.  It can also frighten animals and cause red-eye.  

Natural lighting is best.  Photographing your pet near a window is best if indoors.  If you’re outside, try to choose an area with no awkward shadows and that isn’t overly bright.  Softly shady areas are best, or you can wait for a cloudy day when the lighting is perfect during the day.  

Macro settings offer a unique way of capturing super close-ups of your pets.  Image courtesy of Pexels.  

Camera Settings

You’re going to have to play with your camera’s settings.  This might mean digging out the user manual or looking it up online in order to do it right.  

Set your camera to burst mode, and turn off the flash.  As we mentioned before, flash from a point-and-shoot camera can easily ruin a shot with red eye, over-exposure of light, and even scare your pet.  If your camera allows, set the aperture to the smallest number.  

You also want to consider switching to Portrait Mode.  This will blur the background and focus the lense on the pet. The final result will be a sharper image of your pet that stands out in dimension.  

Depending on the weather, you may need to adjust the black and white balance.  This will help exposure and color stand out.  

If your camera offers control over the shutter speed, play with setting it at its fastest speed.  Pets are fast-- you don’t want the shutter speed lagging behind on the action shot!  

For close-up shots that really sing, try setting your camera to macro photography and getting really close to your pet.  Again-- MAKE SURE FLASH IS OFF! Especially close-up, you don’t want to scare your pet or blind the both of you with flash.  Macro photography will super-focus on the nearest part of the pet to the lens and bring it into sharp relief. Every hair will stand out, every fleck in their eyes will flicker-- macro photography really is a special way of seeing your pet.  Give it a try and see what we mean!

Get the family in on the action, too!  Image courtesy of Pexels.  

Once you have a keeper or two, consider taking the images beyond a picture frame.  Try turning it into a blanket or a beach towel!  

If you’re worried about the resolution, consider using a collage of all of your favorite images of your pet.  Or a collage of all of your pets! Create easy collages with any number of smartphone apps like Pic Joiner or a free online service like Canva.  

What other tips and tricks have you tried to produce successful pet pictures?  Let us know!  


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