Pet Photography Tips & Ideas

Nothing is more fun than photographing your pet. Whether they’re running through the snow, catching treats, chasing a ball, or simply resting peacefully. Dogs and cats seem to have a never-ending supply of cuteness.


Getting them to actually sit still is another story. Unlike humans, pets don’t pose on demand. And they’re not always thrilled about getting their picture taken.

Fortunately, there are a few tips & tricks that will turn just about any pet into an eager model.

Here are 10 tips to capture your pet’s personality.

1. Light Is Your Best Friend.

If there’s one thing that can make or break a photo, it’s lighting. Whether that’s in a studio or outside in your backyard. I personally love natural light. The “Golden Hour” produces some of my favorite pet photos. Shortly after sunrise or before the sun sets the light is diffused, even and often full of vibrant colors.

Shooting outdoors during the golden hour will produce some great photos. But if that’s not possible, you can also shoot next to a large, well-lit window.

But be sure to avoid using the flash as it can often cause red-eye and frightens just about any animal.

2. Focus on the Eyes.

When it comes to photography, focusing on the eyes is always a good rule of thumb. This is especially true when photographing pets.

Get their eyes sharply in focus to create the most engaging photos. This is where you’ll capture their personality and all those little expressions.

Pug Eyes

3. Get Down on Their Level.

Having a big ‘ol camera staring at you from above can be pretty intimidating for your pet. You can capture some interesting shots by getting down on all four paws so to speak.

Not only will you capture some interesting shots but it also relaxes your fur baby as well. Giving you a chance to capture their true character.

A post shared by Agador 🦁 (@poochofnyc) on

4. Move Slowly.

When you move quickly, your pet is likely to follow your lead. They sense that something exciting is about to happen and want to follow you. This is especially true with cats.

If you’re trying to get them to stay in one spot, move slowly. No sudden movements. And avoid eye contact while shifting positions.

Of course, if this doesn’t work – you can always use treats.

5. Treats.

Photo sessions with your dog are a lot more fun when you have treats!

You can hold the treat right above the lens to get them to look straight into the camera. Or off to the side for a different composition.

Squeaky toys are also a great way to get your dog’s attention. Although you’ll want to use this one in moderation because it will probably only work a few times. But it’s a great way to get them alert and looking into the camera.

6. Relax.

Have you ever felt like your dog could sense your emotions? The fact is they most likely do. Dogs are masters of body language.

If you are annoyed and frustrated, they will be too! If you are relaxed and having fun, they will respond in the same way. Often times, mirroring your emotions right back to you.

So it’s important to have fun and stay relaxed during a photo session with your pet. Not always easy when Fido is running around and licking your lenses 🙂

If you find yourself getting a bit unnerved, sit the camera down and give your pet some attention. Rub their belly. Let them sniff the camera. And have a jolly ‘ol chat.

After 5 to 10 minutes, your pet should be feeling pretty relaxed.

7. Use a Fast Shutter Speed.

Pets are almost always on the move. Especially when you want them to sit still. So it’s essential that you use a fast shutter speed. This will essentially “freeze” any movement in your shots. Allowing you to capture crisp, clear photos even when your pet is on the move.

However, keep in mind that a faster shutter speed also means there will be less light captured by the lens. But you can often compensate for this by shooting with plenty of natural light.

8. Go Macro.

Get up close and personal for some interesting results. Most cameras have a macro setting that allows you to zoom in on whiskers, fur and claws.

9. Burst Mode.

If you want to capture your pet in motion, set your camera to Continuous or Burst mode. This allows you to shoot as many continuous frames per second as your camera allows while the shutter button is pressed down.

Shooting in this drive mode opens up a whole new world of funny photos and candid shots that you would normally never be able to capture.

When you want to freeze action, use Shutter Priority mode. This is the “Tv” setting on a Canon. And the “S” setting on a Nikon.

The aperture will be set around f/2.8 to f/4 and you’ll also need a fast shutter speed. 1/1000th usually does the trick. But you can test out faster speeds as well.

The amazing work of Christian Vieler who photographs dogs catching treats.

The famous Carli Davidson…

10. Get Creative!

Photographing your pet really is all about having fun. Put glasses and hats on your furry friend. Put them in a wagon. Capture your dog as they look out the window waiting for mom to come home. Run around and play fetch to capture some of your dog’s happiest expressions. Use your camera’s burst mode to capture them catching a Frisbee in mid-air. Some of the best shots (for both humans and pets) will come from capturing their character and emotions.

Of course… at the end of the day just have fun. I admit. I’m not into rules and I like to experiment.

The same is true for photographing your pets. See what works for you and your fur baby.

The more shots you take, the more gems you’ll find.

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