7 Quick Pet Photography Tips to Improve Your Shots

Rohan Mathew

Updated on:

If you are an active social media user, you know for sure how much everyone loves cute photos of pets. You can find pet photography pictures all over the internet, from your Instagram feed to stock photography websites, where such images are in high demand. If you have a pet, you’ve probably tried to shoot them countless times, regardless of the camera you own. 

You know that sometimes it’s not the easiest thing to take a great shot of your energetic and quick little friends. So what should you do to take better shots of your pets? If you need some guidance, keep reading this article, as it lists 8 quick tips on how to improve photoshoots with your pets.

1. Don’t use flash

Avoid using your built-in camera flash as it can distress animals. In general, it’s always better to leverage natural lighting conditions, since natural light helps your images look balanced and pleasing to the eye. Try shooting your pets outdoors during the hour after the sunrise and before the sunset (called the golden hour), or before the sunrise and after the sunset (during the blue hour) to take pictures with soft and magical lighting that compliments your subjects.

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2. Shoot in front of the contrasting background

Background plays a very important role in pet photography. With a background, you can create some good contrast to make your pets stand out in your shots. What’s more, background provides context, which can be great for storytelling. It can also lead your viewers’ attention to the focus of the business headshots. You can also experiment with empty space in your images (this space is called negative space) and leading lines (any attention-grabbing lines in your shots).

One of the most effective options with pet photography is shooting in front of simple yet colorful backgrounds that are contrasting to the animals. You can use a solid-looking blanket or neutral furniture as a part of your background. You can also find many contrasting backgrounds outdoors, from variable greenery to urban area sights and surfaces, to shoot pets in front of them.

3. Experiment with angles and composition

To take some outstanding photos of your pets, you will need to experiment with different angles. Get more unconventional than simply shooting your little friends from above and try to get at their eye level to see the world from their perspective. Keep moving to find angles that will make your pictures stand out.

You can also base your composition on the rule of thirds (or simply set the gridlines on in your camera settings and place your subject along the intersections or on them) or other classical composition rules to better balance your shots. You can do your quick but important research to know the most common composition mistakes and how to quickly fix them.

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4. Don’t zoom in

To further stress the importance of actively moving while you photograph your pets, it’s worth mentioning that zooming in to get a closer shot is not the best option, especially if you shoot with your smartphone camera. You see, unlike with DSLR cameras, most smartphones have digital zoom instead of optical zoom. This means that your picture is just cropped on the screen when you zoom in. Get closer to your pets instead of choosing to zoom in so you’ll have more to work with in case you do decide to crop your images.

5. Make sure you don’t disturb your pets

Cats, dogs, and home rodents naturally do a lot of funny things and sweet expressions. It’s better to be patient and wait for a perfect shot that will be authentic than to force your pets to do something against their will. Make sure animals are comfortable and you are not disturbing them with your photoshoot or force them into some unnatural staged positions.

6. Use some tricks to keep them focused

Some pets are really hard to take pictures of because they are always moving. You’ve probably heard from some of your friends something like ‘my cat doesn’t like to be photographed’, or you’ve even said similar things yourself. Sure, you shouldn’t force your pets to pose for you, but you can use some simple tricks to keep their attention for a few shots.

You can take their favorite toys, or offer them some treats, or shoot them while they are doing everyday things they enjoy (like chasing something or staring out the window). Keep them occupied or bribe them with treats for the perfect shots.

7. Take a series of shots

Another trick to get some good shots is trying to shoot as often and quickly as you can, or simply turning the series mode in your camera settings. Choosing the right settings, you will be able to take a series of shots both on a DSLR camera and your smartphone. That’s an especially useful tip for owners of quick and energetic pets who move fast when they are busy with their favorite things. If you have several options to choose from, you will be able to get at least some good shots out of a series.

An afterthought

Pet photography is a highly popular genre these days, and it seems like everyone enjoys the photos on their feed. However, taking appealing and quality photos of pets and domestic animals is not as easy as it might seem. Pets are not the easiest subjects, because unlike with humans, you can’t force them to sit still for continuous periods of time.

Trying to improve your pet shots challenges you as a photographer in general. Even if you are a beginner photographer, it is still very important to research and shoot more often, since every genre is a chance to boost your photography skills.