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How to Best Photograph Your Pets: Tips and Tricks

Feb 24,2024 | Petbobi

It doesn’t matter if you are using your brand-new iPhone or a professional DSLR camera and external flash. Capturing those beautiful moments between you and your pet is a rewarding experience. These rare glimpses of personality and growth allow you to wax nostalgic and parade photos of your dog, cat, or other animal all over your living space.

Pet photography is a rapidly growing pastime. Our Petbobi team has compiled a fantastic list of the best tips and trips through our pet photography guide. From nailing the off-camera flash pet portrait to those action shots that make you feel warm and cozy inside, we’ve got you covered!



What You’ll Need to Get Started

The challenge with pet photography is that your four-legged friend tends not to want to stand still. All the work you go into setting up the perfect fall photo shoot, complete with collected leaves of all colors, isn’t going to be a cakewalk without a little preparation.

To start, you’ll need to collect a few odds and ends so when the magical moment happens, you’re ready to go. Begin by setting up your area when you intend to shoot. This could be natural light in an outdoor setting, a home studio, or a professional setup. Next, you’ll need:

  • Camera: A quality DSLR camera of over 12-15MP will work well. Most modern smartphones can also capture that level of high resolution but may not have the shutter speed or natural light sensitivity of a pro device.
  • Various lighting options: This could include all kinds of mirrors, lighting umbrellas, and off-camera flash pet portrait options. Just be sure to double-check the flash won’t cause your pets to freak out and run away.
  • Pet costumes: There is a lot of fun to have here. You can dress up your dog like Harry Potter Fido, your cat like a swimsuit kitty, or whatever else you can imagine.
  • Props: Grab a box and fill it with sunglasses, hats, movie popcorn, surfboard, or whatever floats your fancy for the setting. Again, be sure your pet is familiar with the items so they remain still and content while you shoot.
  • Treats and toys: A pet photography shoot will test your animal’s patience. Having quality treats and toys like our Interactive Petbobi Dog Toys that shake and squeak is a great way to maintain their attention and give them little breaks between sessions. 
  • An Assistant: This must-have is someone many other photography guides leave out. You are shooting a live animal and will need an extra set of eyes to keep things moving smoothly. 

Once you have everything assembled and are happy with the test photos you take before bringing in your furry friend, it’s time to begin your photoshoot.



Pet Photography Tips and Tricks

We’re going to provide these essential tips and trips for our pet photography guide in no particular order. The only single tip that is universal is to be patient. Your pet is probably not used to being the center of attention for a photo, so take your time.


1. Get down to the pet’s level

This tip is valid for human children just as much as your pet. You are using equipment they are most likely not used to, and you want to invoke a sense of peace to get the shot you’re hoping for.

Stop trying to make your pet come to you and flip the script by going to them. Get down to your pet’s eye level. It is also critical to capture their emotions, personalities, and hidden meanings behind those beautiful eyes.


2. Avoid busy backgrounds

That busy wallpaper from Pinterest you think is perfect will distract the eye when you examine your final photos. Remember, the pet photography outcome you want is to see the detail of your pet, not the various objects or backdrops in the rear of the photo.

Stick to a simple pure color background if you can. A few subtle nods to patterns or other colors are perfectly okay but may be better for props and not to wash out the unique nature of your pet’s fur and shape.


3. Help your pet look their best

Go ahead and pamper your little buddy. Give them a fresh nail treatment, brush out that hair, and rub away any gunk from the corners of their eyes. This is a photo you want to celebrate on social media, your smartphone, and various images around the house.

While giving them a grooming session is excellent, maybe don’t do the whole wash and blow right before a photo. That could stress your pet when you need them to relax. Make sure there is enough time for your pet to fully relax before the camera starts flashing.


4. Frame your shot in different ways

This is a technical tip for pet photography, but it is crucial for a rewarding outcome. Try not to stick to the straight-on shot you would expect from a local elementary school photographer.

Everything from intimate macro photography that goes way into their facial features to odd angles and unique framing against a window or their favorite toy can add a ton of personality to a shot. It’s perfectly okay to experiment. We especially suggest you try out natural light whenever possible.


5. Anticipate the actions of your pets

Pet photography is a dynamic hobby. Your pet is not going to sit there and sleep. You want to capture their inner personality by letting them interact with you, the camera, props, and the environment for your shoot.

You have spent the most time with your pet, so trust your instincts and make a judgment call on when they will move. Cat owners are especially great at this because they have felt that anticipation before their “purfect” friend pounces.


6. Use your time carefully

Timing has a lot to do with quality off-camera flash pet portraits. You don’t want to try and initiate a session when your pet is most likely to be drowsy or expecting to be fed. Try to time your session for when they would naturally be active.

Better yet, if you can surprise your pet during your session, you’ll have a fantastic outcome. For example, let your pet play quietly for a while, then surprise them when you’re ready to snap a photo. You’ll get some precious shots in those quick seconds they stare at you, fully alert.


7. Lean into character

Your pet has a unique personality. Use that to your advantage. Photograph them yawning if your cat loves to lounge around the house like Garfield. If your doggo enjoys a long mud bath outdoors, wait for the sun to shine on some puddles and give them total freedom to get down and dirty.

Let your pet’s personality and inner character shine through in your pet's photography, and you will be amazed at the pictures you can use in the future.



Pet Photography Editing Tips

There is no 100% method for the perfect pet photography shot when editing. This is going to be a trial-and-error process that reflects your image and your artistry. However, there are some tricks you can use, like:

  • Screen Brightness: Never try and edit your pet's photography on a screen that is dimmed down. Be sure you have it turned up so you can better judge color, white space, and balance.
  • Fur Color: If you are changing up the temperature and colors, don’t wash out your pet’s fur. Black dogs are victims of this editing tip because they can become gray or lost in the background if you’re not careful.
  • Sharpening and Noise Reduction: Don’t abuse either of these settings. Yes, you want all the details in the world, but not graininess. Try to balance sharpness for clarity as you adjust.
  • Focus on Eyes: Your pet’s eyes are windows to the soul. Just don’t overdo the editing so they look possessed with “too bright” eyeballs. Go for clarity and personality, and you should be fine.



Pet Video Tips

Right along with pet photography and editing is video. Like pet photography, you want to try and use as much natural light as possible to capture your furry friend’s personality. You also want to keep your session short and sweet.

Video is the chance to tell a story about your pet. Here, you can infuse your video content with cuts or angles that showcase how your pet interacts with the world. For example, put the video camera at the same level as your couch and hold it steady while your cat slowly pokes its head up from below the horizon line of the sofa.

While you’re at it, don’t forget the music or sound effects. There are plenty of free apps and software to create a warm, inviting, and memorable moment with your favorite pet.



Final Thoughts

From off-camera flash pet portraits to engaging video content you can share on social media, pet photography is a wonderful way to encapsulate a moment in time with your pet. Take your time, have patience, and most of all, keep it playful.

By the end of your session, you’ll have an image you can share with anyone. It is an exceptional way to remember all the years of friendship and support between you and your beloved pet.