Top 10 Pet Photography Tips and Techniques

Reviewed By Tom •  Updated: 03/31/22 •  6 min read
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Pet Photography Tips and Techniques

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Pets have always been a big part of our lives, and today more than ever, people are starting to realize that their pets are more than just random animals. Many of us have created some beautiful photographs of our pets as a way of showing them off to the world. 

In the age of digital photography, people have taken their pet photography to a whole new level by going out into the wild and capturing stunning images of their loyal companions. If you are looking to start a pet photography business, or if you just want to preserve your memories with your pet, then these tips and techniques will help you take your pet photos to the next level.

  1. Plan a concept

Before you even think about taking your first photo, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. Think about the location, time of day, and what sort of light is best for your subject. You should also plan out how you will take the photos and the kind of equipment that you will need.

You can, for example, have a Christmas concept for your pet puppy photoshoot. Dress up your pup in a tiny knitted sweater, pose them by the Christmas tree, and you will have a stunning image that will bring joy and festivity to your friends and family.

You should also consider where your photos will end up. For example, suppose you’re interested in turning your pet pictures into a completely customized calendar. In that case, you’ll have to ensure you have your edited images ready to go before the New Year.

  1. Clean up the background

After you have thought about your concept, you need to make sure that your background is clean and uncluttered. A little clutter is fine if it fits the theme, but more often than not they end up crowding the shot and taking attention away from your pet. A bare wall is also ideal for a pet photoshoot because it allows you to capture the full emotion of your pet without any distractions. Feel free to check for nice stock imagery as a background as well.

  1. Use the ideal lighting

Good lighting is very important in the photography process, and pet shoots are no different. You want to see the catchlights in your pet’s eyes. Try not to shoot in dark rooms and on days when it is very overcast.

The best natural light is the most accessible and useful tool, whether you’re a professional or an amateur photographer. For example, when the sun rises early in the morning or just before sunset, there’s a hazy, golden atmosphere that is ideal for taking happy photos. In contrast, avoid harsh and direct sunlight.

  1. Keep your pets comfortable

Taking photos of your pet is a very long process, and if they are uncomfortable or nervous, they may not look their best. The easiest way to get your pet to relax is to take them outside where there is a nice breeze. If you have a high-quality pet photo studio, you can even provide them with a comfortable place to rest while you work.

If you think they’re getting agitated while you’re taking pictures, give them some time to cool off. If they’re too tired or annoyed, they won’t look their best. Also, you can bring chew toys or balls to calm them and keep them occupied whenever you need to fiddle with your camera.

  1. Show the pet’s bond with its owner

When the subject of your shoot starts to misbehave or act agitated while you are there, you can ask their owner to get into the frame.

Dogs, for example, tend to feel the most at home when they’re near their owners. It is possible to use this occasion to take heartwarming pictures. If you’re taking shots of you and your own pets, then try out some self-portraits technique! Want to capture more natural shots? Time your camera to snap shots of you leisurely playing with your pet.

  1. Have fun with it

Remember that this is supposed to be fun! If you have your pet in a relaxed mood, then you are much more likely to get a great shot. And if you don’t feel comfortable with your pet, it’ll likely show on camera.

Animals are just like small sponges that absorb a lot of their human’s feelings. And if you become stressed out, the animals will sense that and feel anxiety as well. You can see if an animal is stressed by looking out for flat ears or wide, concerned eyes. An anxious pet won’t look good on camera. Breathe in slowly and remind yourself that it’s crucial to have fun with the shoot!

  1. Focus on the pet’s eyes

The eyes are the window to the soul, and you can use this to your advantage in your pet photography. The eyes should be the focal point of your image. You can use the right facial expressions, body language, and props to help give it some personality. But without the eyes, it will not be complete.

This is why you should always focus on the eyes in your images. By using their eyes, you can give depth, a stunning point of highlight, or create a sense of familiarity with your shots. Make sure to use a wide aperture to emphasize this feeling.

  1. Get rid of distractions

Dogs, cats, and other pets are extremely intelligent creatures. They can sense if they are being watched or photographed by another person. This is why you should try to avoid distracting the animal while you are taking pictures.

You should also get rid of other things that might distract them too much during your shoot. If a cat is occupied with chasing after a nearby bird, for example, then you won’t be able to sneak in a good shot.

  1. Be slow and steady

If you are not very proficient at doing documentary-style animal photography, learn to move slowly around animals when you’re taking shots of them. This is especially true when it comes to cats, who are very prone to flinch and run at even the smallest movements from you. Similarly, dogs may get overly excited and restless if you move too much. Keep your movements slow and steady to not spook them.

  1. Reward your pets

Every animal must have some kind of motivation so that they will stay attentive during a photoshoot. Without “payment,” they’ll get disinterested and wander elsewhere. Find out what motivates them, and provide that to them throughout the shooting.

This can be snacks, their favorite toy, and more. When it comes time to reward your models, be creative. If you do that, they will reward you with great shots, and they will also maintain cooperation.

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Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!