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Show off Your Fur Babies with Great Pet Photos

Great pet photos include a smiling golden retriever with his happy family.

Reading Time: 7 minutes read

Eight tips for capturing great pet photos

  1. Leverage natural light
  2. Focus on their eyes
  3. Get close-ups
  4. Photograph from various angles
  5. Use a high shutter speed
  6. Set your camera to continuous focus
  7. Use burst mode
  8. Follow the “rule of thirds”

Your furry friends are part of the family. Creating a pet brag book is a fun way to showcase their importance in your life. Great pet photos can be difficult to capture. Some pet owners hire professional photographers. While that’s a viable option, it’s not necessary. With a few animal photography tips and some patience, you can capture great pet photos.

Great Pet Photos Start With Mutual Cooperation

Pets squirm and have short attention spans. Photographers of young children often face similar obstacles. One big difference, however, is that pets can’t understand photography cues. “Say cheese” and “look here” are meaningless to your furry friend. You’ll need to be more tactical. Here are some pet photography tips to get them to cooperate. 

To get great pet photos, lure your dog to position with his favorite treats.
  • Lure them with treats – Choose a favorite treat and lure them into position. Animals follow their noses to wherever it leads them. Simply dangle the treat in front of them. Make sure they get a good sniff to whet their appetite. If your pet knows basic commands, give them a treat every time they obey.
  • Speak their language – If your animal understands “sit,” “stay” or “lie down,” use those exact key phrases. Verbalizing words they frequently hear is a sure-fire way to gain trust and cooperation. Pets can often be stubborn. If it is, fall back on treats. Reward your pet for every obeyed command.
Get great pet photos from a kitten playing with a feather wand toy.
  • Employ some toys – Toys encourage your pet to stay put. They’re also fun photo props. Use toys to capture candid moments of being playful. Be strategic with their toys as well to catch your pet in motion. They keep your pet engaged if the photoshoot feels like a game. You’re more likely to get quality shots when they’re having fun.
  • Ask for help – Call a friend or family member who knows your pet. One of you can stay behind the camera. The other will dish out treats and throw toys.
  • Remain calm – Animals can sense emotions. It’s important to remain calm and happy. It’s a thin line, though. Don’t act overly playful. Dogs can be easily riled up. You need to remain in control. Pets recognize frustration. If tension starts to bubble up, call it quits for the day. It won’t make for pretty photos.

Remember that your pets are most familiar and comfortable with you. Once you lean into that bond, the rest is easier.

A beautiful woman and her cocker spaniel look relaxed and having fun in this great pet photo.

8 Tips for Capturing Great Pet Photos

Preparing your pet is half of the production. Honing photography skills is the other. If you have a professional camera, prepare it for use. An iPhone will also work with most of these tips.

Leverage natural light.

Natural light is always the best source of lighting. It’s warm and tender. When positioned well, everyone looks great in natural light. The key is timing your photoshoot. Leverage the sun’s peak hours. Keep light behind the camera to create natural shine and minimize shadows.  

The focus is on this cat’s blue eyes, making for a great pet photo.

Focus on their eyes.

Eyes tell the story. To create great pet photos, dial in on the eyes. Catch a little twinkle. This requires the right lighting and the right focus. In auto mode, your camera will focus on the closest object. Switch out of auto mode and control the focus manually. 

Get close.

Every storybook photo album needs close-up portraits. These require some adjustments with the camera. Set the lens at the widest possible aperture. Try to position your pet a few feet from the background. The background should be slightly blurry, so the focus stays on your pet.  

Angle your camera phone from up above to capture great pet photos from all angles.

Shoot at various angles.

Shooting photos at the pet’s eye level is effective at creating a personal image. Eye-level is essential for capturing pet portraits. Don’t be afraid to try other angles. Your pet photo album will be more interesting with variety. Try photos with any (or all) of these angles:

  • High above to capture your pet looking up at you.
  • Below their chin to make them appear larger.
  • Behind one of their ears to get their perspective.
  • From a distance to capture their full silhouette.

Use a high shutter speed.

Want to catch your dog jumping for a frisbee? Action shots are some of the most difficult to capture, but not im-paw-sible. Change your camera shutter speed to a fast setting. You’ll need at least 1/250 to capture small movement. Use an even higher speed for a game of fetch. Some cameras even provide a shutter speed priority mode. These cameras have an “S” or a “Tv” on their dials denoting shutter speed or time value.

Set your camera to continuous focus.

Another photography tip for capturing objects in motion is setting your camera to continuous focus. Continuous focus mode keeps your camera active at all times. It prevents you from ending up with soft, fuzzy images. You’ll get a much clearer photo.

Catch your dog jumping for a basketball or other action shot with the right camera settings.

Turn on burst mode.

Turning on burst mode will give you a cluster of great pet photos at once. This increases your chances of getting the perfect action shot. Burst mode isn’t only available on professional cameras. It’s also available on your iPhone. It’s an accessible alternative to using a high shutter speed.

Follow the rule of thirds.

Follow the rule of thirds for making the subjects of photographs stand out.

Artists and designers often use what’s referred to as “the rule of thirds”. It’s a trick that helps to create pleasing proportions within any artform. It uses your natural desire to scan areas looking for interesting things. When composing your photo, think about dividing the frame into thirds horizontally and vertically. Visualize two lines across and two lines up and down. The subject of your image (your pet) should be positioned at the intersection of those lines. It doesn’t matter if it’s the intersection on the right, left, top or bottom.

Get great pet photos from a kitten playing with a feather wand toy.

Show Off Your Great Pet Photos

You’ve put those furry friend photography skills to work and captured many great pet photos. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste. With Motif’s easy-to-use app, you can shuttle all those images into a keepsake photo book. With so many happy memories inside, you won’t be able to keep your paws off it.