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  • Writer's picturemegan burke

11 Tips for Taking Great Pet Portraits

As a pet photographer and proud parent of 4 fur babies, I've learned some tricks for creating successful pet portraits over the years.

black dog with pink bandana

Photographing pets can be challenging. But it can be a fun and rewarding experience with some practice and a few pointers (dog breed pun!) (Sorry). Whether you're a professional photographer or a pet parent looking to capture special moments with your furry friend, here are some practical tips and advice for taking your pet's photograph.

black and white photo of miniature schnauzer

  1. Be patient - Patience is vital when it comes to photographing pets. They can be unpredictable and may only sometimes cooperate. Take your time and be prepared to take multiple shots to get the perfect picture. Also, if the pet is not your own, it can take them a while to either calm down in your presence or feel at ease, whether from excitement or anxiety.

  2. For pet parents, taking a dog for a walk, playing fetch, or a trip to the dog park may be a good idea to help get any excess energy out before a photo session.

  3. Build a connection - If you photograph someone else's fur baby, connect with them before taking their portrait. Ask about their disposition; do they tend to be anxious or excited around new people? Give yourself at least 30 minutes of acquaintance time before you begin photographing. This can help put the pet at ease, resulting in more natural and authentic photos. Having treats and toys handy can help gain a pet's trust and win their friendship.

  4. Use natural light - Whenever possible, use natural light to light your pet. If you're photographing indoors, position your pet near a window with plenty of natural light. Avoid using flash, as it can be startling for your pet.

  5. Get down to their level - Try to get down to your pet's level when photographing. If photographing a smaller pet, consider using a low stool or chair to get closer to their level. Eye-to-eye will help you capture their perspective and make the photographs more engaging.

  6. Keep it simple - Focusing on the pet is essential when taking pet photographs. Avoid cluttered backgrounds or distracting objects that may detract from the photo's subject.

  7. Use treats or toys - Using treats or toys can help keep your pet engaged and focused on the camera. This can be particularly helpful when getting them to sit still or look in a particular direction.

  8. Shoot in burst mode - Pets can be fast-moving, so shooting in burst mode can help you capture the perfect moment. This mode takes multiple photos quickly, increasing your chances of getting the perfect shot.

  9. Capture their personality - Just like people, pets have unique personalities. Try to capture their character in the photographs. If your pet is playful, capture them in motion. If they're calm and relaxed, try to capture a more serene moment.

  10. Keep it safe - When photographing your pet, ensure they're safe and comfortable. Avoid putting them in dangerous or uncomfortable situations.

  11. Editing Tips - If you're not a professional photographer, editing photos might feel daunting. But no worries! Great ready-made filters in photo apps can enhance your pet's portrait quickly. Higher contrast and detail can create a vivid image loaded with personality, depending on the look you're after.

brown and black dog

Remember, taking your pet's photograph can be a fun and rewarding experience. Be patient, build rapport, use natural light, get down to their level, keep it simple, use treats or toys, shoot in burst mode, capture their personality, and keep it safe. With practice and these suggestions, you can catch some fantastic photographs of your furry friend that you or your clients will treasure for years.


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