Top Puppy 📸 🐾 Photography Tips

New Puppy Owners this is for you!❤️🐾

It may seem crazy to willingly put ourselves through the task of raising a puppy. The good 😃 news is, it will not last!

The bad 😔 news is, well it won’t last!!

Warm bellies and puppy breath will all be gone soon, so be sure to capture those moments before they are all gone!

Here are my top tips on improving your pet photography and which auto settings to try and when.

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Don’t let your camera guess what you are trying to photograph by leaving it on Auto Mode . Your digital camera has amazing pre-installed auto settings that you can use, you just have to tell it when to use them!

This diagram shows you the common camera settings and what they are programmed to do.

☀️ Natural Light

If possible always use natural light when taking your pet’s picture.

Avoid flash, as flash burst can not only cause red-eye, but also frightens the animal. Instead try to go outside, or if it is not possible, work in a room well lit by a large window.

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Make sure you have your “Auto Flash” setting Off.

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♻️ Get rid of clutter first

Before you even pull your camera out of your bag, take a look around at your shooting location and get rid of clutter and distracting objects first. Do you really want to see that empty Starbucks cup on your coffee table in the photos of your cat? Is the garden hose snaking through the grass where you are photographing your dog?

If an element in your background doesn’t serve to enhance your images in some way, either remove it first or move to a different location.

🐶 Grooming

Of course we all know that every little piece of lint shows on our black clothes, well it is the same for fur! Keep an eye out for dirt in the eyes and treat crumbs.

😌 Go to Them

It is very important that your pet feels comfortable and at ease, so instead of forcing him to come to you, go to him. It is most important to get down to his level, to show us the way he sees the world! Sit on the floor or lie on your belly and remember to shoot from HIS eye level or below.

Child Mode

Most of the time I would have your camera on the “Child” setting as it has a slightly faster shutter speed, so if your subject decides to move, you might still be able to avoid image blur.

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🥰 Allow the puppy to guide the shoot

For the most part, puppies don't yet understand commands nor do they understand our expectations of good and bad behavior. That's part of what makes them endearing. You never know what they're going to do next and usually they do it with so much adorableness, you can't get upset. If you're wanting to capture puppies in full puppy mode, you have to be ready for anything. Allow the puppy to decide when to play, where, and with what (as long as it's all safe!) and do your best to capture it all as it happens.

💥Use sounds and attention sparingly

Puppies have short attention spans and the novelty of something new wears off as soon as there is something else to capture interest. This is not only true for toys, but also for sounds. Using a new sound is a great way to get a puppy's attention, and get those perked ears and tilted head for a shot. However, using a particular noise may work for a little while, but it won't work for the entire shoot. Even if you have a whole repertoire of sounds, using sound to get attention will only work for so long. So, try to keep novel sounds as a back-up plan for getting attention. Exhaust your other options before pulling out the squeeze toy or whistling.

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🙃 Change Your Perspective

Utilize your spacious memory cards by taking as many photos as you want BUT for variety, try shooting from different angles. Aside from taking shots from above and at eye level, try shooting from way down below, from the side, and even from behind.

Make use of your creativity and try taking close up shots of the face, paws, or even the tail.

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👀 Focus on eyes

The eyes are the most expressive part of an animal’s face, so if you want to create really engaging portraits, focus on the eyes and facial expressions.

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This is when you want to use your “Close Up” setting on your camera. Get nice and close to your subject and see what you can fill the frame with.

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🏃🏼‍♀️Use a fast shutter speed, continuous focus, and burst mode 

Puppies love to play and watching them play is freaking hilarious!


Keep your shutter speed high by setting your camera to “Sports” setting and/or your cellphone to “Burst” mode. That will increase your shutter speed to use when photographing an active puppy. Even if you do manage to catch him sitting, he may not stay sitting for long, so you want to be ready with that fast shutter speed just in case he moves suddenly. 

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 😋 Reward Your Pet

Don’t forget to pay your model! Throughout the shoot, offer them something that they really like, to keep them motivated and to encourage them to cooperate.

The reward is up to you. It can be anything from treats and toys, to belly rubs and other forms of affection. 

 🧘🏻‍♀️ Be Relaxed and Patient

The cardinal rule of photographing puppies is to lower your expectations. You're not going to be able to tell your puppy to stop running around or to sit or to lie down or to not chew on that shoe. Puppies just don't know that much. Chances are, your puppy is probably still peeing on the floor. That doesn't make him a very cooperative photographic subject. So, you will eliminate your own frustration if you don't have any expectations that you'll be able to guide your puppy in much more than a general direction. Instead, just follow your puppy around and know that he's going to do cute poses.

Knowing your puppy's personality is going to help you here—some puppies like to climb on and through things and other puppies don't, so choose your props according to what you know about his habits and behaviours.

Animals are like little emotional sponges, and if you are stressed and anxious, they will sense it and become stressed and anxious too. A stressed animal will give you ‘ears flattened’, ‘concerned eyes’ looks, which does not translate well on film.

Take a deep breath and remember to have fun with it!😁

Beth Photography - Pet Photographer - Servicing the Ottawa, Cornwall area.

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