Photographing your pet requires patience and skill, because pets are unpredictable. Unlike people, they don’t do as they’re asked. It’s difficult to photograph your pet unless you happen to have a sloth! Pet photography can become a little daunting.
With a little patience and the 10 tips below, you should be able to improve your pet photography in no time. You could even turn this into a business with a good profit!
10 Tips to Photograph Your Pet
1. Timing and Anticipating
Timing is everything. It’s the difference between getting your pet in mid-action, or another blurry pet photo. Try to expect what your pet is going to do next and how the scene will play out.
Using your imagination and anticipate before shooting can lead to fantastic pet images. Once you see that shot, grab it as fast as you can. Those little beasties aren’t going to wait for you!
2. Always keep their Eyes Sharp
As with portrait photography generally, the eyes should always be sharp. I say ‘generally‘ as you may want to be a little creative and focus on the nose!
The eyes are the key aspect to your pet’s portrait, and if the eyes are a little soft, the whole image may look out of focus. Animals have expressions too! Focus on the eyes to express emotion and character. It creates a more interesting portrait.
Tip: Increase your shutter speed and use a smaller aperture, stopping down to around f/2.8 or more. This should make it a little easier to get that shot.
3. Enhance your Pet’s Personality
It’s all about capturing the personality and individuality of your pet. If your dog or cat likes to lounge around on the sofa or you have a boisterous puppy, this could be the ideal shot.
Photographing your Pet’s Personality
Don’t forget to add your pets favourite toy which helps convey even more information into that shot. Pet toys could also help you to manipulate your pet into position.
4. Get Up Close and Personal
Leave a lot of negative space around your pet. This can sometimes influence the aesthetics of your image. But, there are times you need to get up close and personal.
An alternate perspective could be a detailed shot of your dog’s wet nose or vibrant cat’s eyes. You can crop in close when post-processing the image.
5. Go down to Your Pet’s Level
By getting down to your pet’s level, you are entering their world. Try seeing things from their perspective. This also creates a connection with your pet and your audience.
If need be, get down on the ground but keep do watch out for your pet’s poop!
6. Include People into the Pet Shot
Adding people into your pet portrait can take your pet’s attention away from the camera.
It also captures a bond we often feel with our pets. A child hugging his or her pet always makes for a great and adorable portrait photo.
7. Use Natural Light over a Flash
Take advantage of natural light and get creative. Using a flash can be frightening for any animal although you could use a studio set up with the to the side of your pet.
This could give you more control over your environment. I’ve always had a preference for natural light.
8. Catch your Pet’s Attention
Take along all your pet’s toys, especially a few of their favourite treats. We all know pets can be unpredictable, and treats are common among animal trainers.
This is also a great way to get alert ears and a facial expression from your pet.
9. Always be Patient
Don’t be too eager to get that shot. Unlike humans, animals may only understand basic commands, and it can get frustrating. Animals can become scared, so you’ll need to earn their trust.
Spend a little time to gain trust and reveal their real characters and emotions.
Pet photography and timing
Patience is an integral part of all photography, enabling you to take control of that scene. Sometimes it’s best to put that camera down and enjoy the moment.
10. Use Different Lenses
I often get asked what the best lens for pet photography is and reply ‘there isn’t one‘. It comes down to the type of shot you’re trying to create.
Using a wide-angle lens as with street photography will allow you to get closer to your pet. Get super creative by playing with angles and compositions. They also create a distorted perspective and accentuate, for example – a dog’s nose!
Using a telephoto lens allows you to have distance between you and your pet. This produces a natural perspective free from distortion.
The lens you put on the front of your camera can impact the outcome of that pet photo! See our post on portrait photography.
Pet Photography Tips Conclusion
These are the top 10 tips I use to photograph pets, and there are times I break the rules and get creative. Always be safe as pets can be unpredictable and you don’t want to get bitten during your photoshoot.