Tips for Great Pet Photography

Tips for Great Pet Photography


This week, Pawshake Melbourne Ambassador Jess was in Sydney, so we took the opportunity to grab some happy snaps with my client, Lotus. (She’s a gorgeous young Springer Spaniel owned by the lovely Kellie.) While I was snapping away, I thought, hey, maybe some pointers could come in handy for anyone taking shots of their own pets for Pawshake - or even just for posterity.  I'm hardly an expert on photography, but I do enjoy busting out my camera to get some cute shots of my clients. The first thing to know when preparing for a shoot is that you don’t need a fancy camera! Great pet photos can even happen on a crummy phone cam if you have the right light.

Pick a good time to take the photos – if it’s a bright day, choose a time in the early morning or late afternoon with long shadows, where the sun is not shining directly above you. The hour immediately after sunrise or before sunset is known in photography circles as the ‘Golden Hour,’ as this can produce glowing golden tones in your photos with the changing sunlight. Overcast days are also great for photos, as the sun is filtered behind clouds and produces a nice soft light with fewer harsh shadows.

If you do choose to take photos in the middle of the day - like we did here - try and avoid shooting while pointing the camera towards the source of any bright light, such as the sky or a concrete path reflecting the sun. This can result in a picture where the background is perfectly exposed and the subject in the foreground is all dark, boo.

Get on their level! Time to roll around on the ground with your furry friend. This enables you to get more of your animal filling the frame, and get more interesting shots. Make sure you stretch first!

Pay the model. Have your dog’s favourite treat or toy ready for when they’re doing a good job. Lotus was overjoyed when I held out a treat, and Jess managed to snap this gorgeous puppy smile. (This can work for cats too – my kitty will do anything for a Pizza Shape or crunchy water cracker so I use these very sparingly to get up-close shots of her big hungry eyes.)

Try to focus on the face. For a great photo, check your pet’s eyes will be in focus – then surprise them with a call or treat so that they’ll look right at the camera. It’s the best way to showcase your pet’s individual personality.

Clear the scene and remove clutter beforehand. Pick up those stray shoes and move the vacuum cleaner out of frame. A busy background distracts from the main focus of the picture – your beautiful pet!

If possible, set your camera to shoot in ‘burst’ mode (also could be called ‘action’ mode or ‘continuous high speed’ on your device) or anything that has an option to shoot in ‘frames per second.’ Taking multiple shots at once is great for catching small variations in expression, and ideal for grabbing the perfect shot of a pet who can’t pose nicely!

Ensure you have the memory space available to take a LOT of pictures. Particularly if you’re shooting in burst mode, your camera or phone’s memory will fill up quickly. The more pictures you take, however, the better the chance of finding that ‘perfect shot,’ so check you’ve cleared your SD card.

Lastly – relax! We know pets can pick up on our body signals so if you’re stressed out trying to take a nice picture, your pet might get grumpy too! If nothing ends up working, put the camera down and try again another time – and remember that the blurry, imperfect shots can sometimes be more precious than the rest!