8 Pet Photography Tips for Adorable Shots

If you’ve ever tried to photograph young children, you’ll know it can be extremely difficult. The same goes for photographing an unpredictable animal, like a dog or a cat.

Pet photography can be delightful and unbelievably cute, but it isn’t always easy, and your subjects will likely not know how to pose for the camera. If you’d like to get the perfect shot of your next four-legged subject, then use these eight helpful tips and tricks.

1. Make Arrangements for the Session

Small fluffy dog running outside on grass

Depending on what type of photoshoot you’ll be doing, you want to schedule the session ahead of time. If you want to capture portrait-style shots, chat with the pet owner about the best time to catch their pet waking up from a nap. This will be when they’re most relaxed and easy to photograph.

If you want to capture an energetic action shot, then it’s best to plan the photo session to take place when they’re most active. Pets can be unpredictable, and unless you’re photographing your own pets, you won’t know their exact schedule.

To avoid disappointment, chat with the pet owner and make arrangements for the session to take place at the perfect time.

2. Use Toys and Food as a Distraction

Some pets can be more difficult to photograph than others. One way to win a pet over and get their full attention is to use their favorite toy or treat as a distraction. Once you’ve found the distraction that they love best, use that to your advantage.

By offering treats and toys you’ll be able to capture amazing shots, like a cat jumping to reach a feather toy or man’s best friend patiently waiting for you to throw a tennis ball. Also, be sure to reward your models regularly during the shoot, especially after getting a winning shot.


3. Focus on Their Eyes

panting collie dog staring up at camera

Whether you’re capturing an animal or a human, the eyes are vital. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and it’s true, especially when it comes to pet photography.

An animal’s eyes can express its mood, so be sure to focus on them. When you’re taking a shot of a pet, try auto-focusing on their eyes to really hone in on them. This way, you’ll better capture the feelings and emotions of your subjects, whether it’s a sneaky side glance or the typical puppy dog eyes.

4. Use the Right Lens

There is a range of different lenses you can use when photographing pets. Choosing the correct one all depends on what you want to capture. When shooting portraits of pets, use a wide-angle lens because it’ll allow you to capture more of the scene you’ve created.

Another great lens to use is a macro lens. As mentioned in the previous tip, focusing on a pet’s eyes will bring their emotions into the photograph. Try using a macro lens to get up close and personal with your subject and capture the smallest details.

When you’re taking action shots of pets from a distance, use a telephoto lens. Unlike a wide-angle lens, a telephoto lens will not cause any distortion in your photographs.

Pets are easily distracted and this makes photographing them challenging at times. A telephoto lens is perfect to use for this very reason. You’ll be able to stand further away and capture the pet when they’re in their most natural state.

5. Shoot in Natural Light

Small husky puppy with blue eyes sitting in grassy field

One of the most important aspects of pet photography is using natural light. Stay away from taking photos indoors as it can be dark with a lot of shadows. However, if you have to shoot inside, choose a spot close to a bright window.

Cloudy, overcast days are best for capturing shots of pets outside as you’ll have perfect, filtered lighting. Refrain from shooting on a particularly sunny day. Direct sunlight often causes an ugly, harsh glare in your photographs.

Avoid using the camera’s flash or excessive lighting as this will only scare the animal you’re working with and result in the red-eye effect.

6. Plan Your Shots and Props

As with any kind of photography, it’s good to have a plan ahead of time, so you know what you want to capture and what you want to get out of your subject. Planning your shots is even more important regarding animals because they can be iffy.

If you’d like to tell a story through your photos, it’s best to come up with a theme, plan your most important shots ahead of time, and decide whether you’ll be using props or not. Perhaps you’re shooting a Christmas-themed photoshoot. Think about including props that will result in exciting expressions from the pets such as a cute Santa hat, sweater, or toy.

The thought of a puppy wearing a pair of reindeer antlers may be cute, but always make sure the animal is comfortable, and if not, rather avoid using it.

7. Take the Shot From Their Perspective

close-up of kitten playing outside next to a tree

Taking photos of pets from the same angle that you see them all the time won’t be interesting, creative, or pretty. Your subject is a pet, which means you need to photograph them in their world.

Depending on what animals you’re taking photos of, you may have to crouch down low or even lie down. For a large dog like a Saint Bernard, you can shoot from the hip, but for a tiny kitten lounging in the sun on the floor, you’ll have to go all the way down to ankle level.

Remember, the eyes are the most important part of an animal. So to get that winning shot, you may end up lying on the floor, which can feel a little silly, but it’s so worth it.

8. Stay Relaxed and Have Fun

Shiba Inu dog wearing a pink party hat with tongue out

This is one of the most important tips to remember when it comes to pet photography. Unless you’re going to relax and have fun while photographing a pet, is it worth doing?

Animals can sense what you’re feeling. If you’re not at ease, or worse, raise your voice, you’ll only end up frightening the pet and this won’t look good on camera. Make sure you have as much fun as possible with your subject, and it’ll end up being a positive, cheerful experience. Plus, you might end up making a new, furry friend!

Related: The Best Websites to Find Tips as a Pet Owner

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