Top 10 Pet Photography Tips

Whether you have a puppy or an elderly pet these tips will be helpful at every stage of your fur-baby’s life!

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

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.

Beth Alexander Photography Camera Settings .png

1. Use 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.

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

No flash.PNG
You can see the sun rays shining behind Guinness which is creating this beautiful halo effect in his fur. Wallace’s black fur is beautifully lit by a big window pane that he is laying in front of.

You can see the sun rays shining behind Guinness which is creating this beautiful halo effect in his fur. Wallace’s black fur is beautifully lit by a big window pane that he is laying in front of.

2.  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.

Ally’s backyard had bikes and balls that we removed, to have a less cluttered background and showcase the beautiful apple blossom petals. Mr. Jake here, loved lounging on the kitchen table, so we made sure to clear the dishes off before we started.

Ally’s backyard had bikes and balls that we removed, to have a less cluttered background and showcase the beautiful apple blossom petals. Mr. Jake here, loved lounging on the kitchen table, so we made sure to clear the dishes off before we started.

3. 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.

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.

Child Mode
I was on my stomach for both of these images, not the comfiest position but all worth it for these beautiful images.

I was on my stomach for both of these images, not the comfiest position but all worth it for these beautiful images.

4. Bling:  

Add something that will provide contrast like a pretty collar that can help add interest to the image and break up all of the fur colour from the background. 

These are both great examples of why having some Bling really helps to separate the subject from the background. The little red dress helped shape the fur and show off her beautiful long hair and the shirt not only kept her warm, but it helped her from not blending into the color of the chair.

These are both great examples of why having some Bling really helps to separate the subject from the background. The little red dress helped shape the fur and show off her beautiful long hair and the shirt not only kept her warm, but it helped her from not blending into the color of the chair.

 5. 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.

You can see the difference it makes when I removed the crumbs from the dog’s face and dirty eyes from the cat. Soooo much better! ;)

You can see the difference it makes when I removed the crumbs from the dog’s face and dirty eyes from the cat. Soooo much better! ;)

 6. 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.

I was shooting Ripley from behind, into the sun for the top image, which gave me the sun flare effect I was going for. Pouf was laying on her favourite dresser so I approached her from underneath in this image. I like the smiley angle it gave me.

I was shooting Ripley from behind, into the sun for the top image, which gave me the sun flare effect I was going for. Pouf was laying on her favourite dresser so I approached her from underneath in this image. I like the smiley angle it gave me.

 

 7. 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.

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.

Close up.PNG
I love focusing on my subject’s eyes, it really draws you in.

I love focusing on my subject’s eyes, it really draws you in.

 

 8. Use a fast shutter speed, continuous focus, and burst mode:  

Since many pets have a hard time sitting still, when you want to freeze motion while playing or running around, use a fast shutter speed.

Set your camera to Sports setting and your cellphone to burst mode.

Sports.PNG
Play time and even nap time can be frozen in time with a fast shutter speed.

Play time and even nap time can be frozen in time with a fast shutter speed.

 9. 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.

Yummy treats and play time is always welcomed by our furry friends.

Yummy treats and play time is always welcomed by our furry friends.

 

 10. Be Relaxed:

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

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Beth