Say ... Cheese? 7 Tips for Getting Better Pet Photos

Sarah V.

Your pet is your child, best friend, buddy, and confidante all wrapped up in one fuzzy package - so it’s natural that your phone is filled with photos of their adorable face. Do you find that many of those photos come out blurry or not the way you expected? 

Taking pet photos is actually harder than it seems, but we’ve got you covered. Read on for our top five ways on how to get better pet photos today. 

Tip #1: Follow the Light

Soft, natural light is always preferable over artificial indoor light or the harsh rays of the sun from directly above. This is because soft light adds depth to an image and makes it easier to capture details - such as your cat’s long whiskers or your dog’s fuzzy paws. You’ll usually find this light in the early morning, perhaps filtering through a curtain or on a slightly overcast day. 

If it’s the middle of the afternoon and you’re near a tree, take a photo out in the sun and then in the shade. You’ll find that the photo in the shade actually highlights your pet’s features better by eliminating harsh shadows that cancel out detail. 

Tip #2: Change Your Perspective 

Instead of trying to pose your pet, get down to their level. If they’re playing outside with a ball then sit on the grass and capture a photo of them running towards you. If they’re napping on the couch, take a close up of their sleeping face. Pet photos are best when they’re showing off your pet’s goofy personality and what they normally do day-to-day. 

The best way to translate their personality onto a two-dimensional image is to avoid taking photos of them while you’re standing. Crouch down so that the camera is level with their eyes. Or, if your cat is perched on a tree, play with different angles and take a photo from down below. Your cat will suddenly look like the king or queen of the boughs. 

Tip #3: Focus on the Eyes

If you have an iPhone that can use Portrait mode, or you’re the owner of a DSLR, you’ll know it’s possible to focus on the subject of your photo while keeping the background out of focus. This is called shallow depth of field, and it always looks great in portraits - including the animal kind. 

Get down to your pet’s level and make sure the area you’re in is well-lit. Then, make sure your focus is on your pet’s eyes - not the ear, cheeks, or whiskers. You’ll find that it looks as if you’re peering into their soul. 

Tip #4: Capture the Action

Getting good photos of your pet while they’re out and about is notoriously difficult; you probably have a number of images that are simply blurs of colors. However, it’s possible to get action shots that are as dynamic as the ones in sports magazines. 

If you have an iPhone 7 or later, set your camera to Burst mode. Android’s capability may vary, but if your phone doesn’t have this option built-in, there are several third-party apps you can download that give you the capability. 

If you have a Canon or Nikon, this is called the Continuous setting. 

Burst mode enables your camera to take about 10 photos per second. This enables you to freeze the action and get at least one photo that isn’t a blur. 

Tip #5: Feed the Model

Once you get the hang of pet photography, it’s probably going to become a regular occurrence. By rewarding your pet with lots of treats and belly rubs, they’ll begin to associate your phone or camera with fun. 

If you’ve trained your pet yourself, you know that it’s better for short, consistent training sessions to keep your pet engaged. Your photo taking sessions are similar, especially if you’re expecting your pet to sit or stand still. Capture a few portraits and then let your subject go play! 

Tip #6: Close-ups 

You may have a lot of photos of your cat or dog sleeping in their favorite spot or running through the yard, but consider taking more close-up photos. If you plan on hanging your photos on the wall, a mixture of close-ups and landscape scenes will provide visual interest. 

The pads of feet, tips of whiskers, or a sleepy eye are also details that we can take for granted during our pet’s lifetime - document all the little things that you love so that you’ll never forget them. 

Tip #7: Edit!

Professional photographers usually never present their unedited photos to the public. This is because photos straight out of the camera are like raw dough - editing them for color, exposure, and sharpness is the finishing touch. 

If you’re taking photos on your phone, there are a number of apps available that can give you professional results with only minimal effort. The number of filters and sliders may be overwhelming, but a simple rule of thumb is to mimic what the colors and light looked to you on that day. 

For instance, if you took photos of your dog at the park while the sun was setting, you probably have warm memories of soft orange light and rich shadows. The photos on your phone won’t completely match the way that day actually looked like until you do some editing. 

Print-Worthy Pet Photos

Like any skill, pet photography takes practice! You’ll find that with a little effort each day, producing print-worthy pet photos becomes natural. When you’re just beginning, focus on letting your creativity shine - experiment with different angles, pay attention to the quality of light, and focus on the details.

Once you have a set of photos you’re proud of, get them printed. Learn how to order premium pet products featuring your best friend so that you can cherish lifetime memories. 

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