To take photos of a pet that is not just good quality but actually catches their character can sometimes seem impossible. Your pet won’t sit still, the colour of their fur blends into the background or something distracts them and the moment is lost. But it is actually easier than you think to start taking better pictures of your cat and dog. By following just a few simple tricks you can capture pet pictures good enough to post on Instagram.
How do I get my pet to cooperate for a photo?
Professional pet photographers often make it look so easy to get a pet to cooperate for a photo. However, in the end, it does come down to a lot of patience and always being ready for that special photo-worthy moment when it happens. You need to focus on making the photoshoot fun and feel like a game. This will help you capture your pet when it's happy and alert with their ears up and increase their attention span. It can help to have a friend or family member stand next to you to lead their line of vision to where you are. If you are on your own then try making unusual noises to get your pet to look at you. But you need to be ready and pay attention so you don’t miss that photo-worthy moment.
What kit do I need for pet photography?
While some of the best photos of pets are the ones unplanned that capture a spontaneous moment. However, if you are planning to take photos of a pet or hoping that you may be lucky at capturing a special moment, then there are things worth having ready in your kit:
- Camera with back button focus
- Weatherproof camera bag
- 70-200mm f/2.8 lens
- Waterproof clothing
- Squeaky toys and treats
How can I take great photos of my pets?
It’s true that cats and dogs aren’t the easiest subjects to photograph. Some of the best photos are actually those spontaneous moments when pet owners just so happened to have their camera in their hand at the right moment. But there are some simple tricks you can use to help ensure you always get great photos of your pet.
Get your pet used to the camera
While cats may not be quite so bothered, the click and flash of a camera can often unsettle dogs at first. Let your pet have a good sniff of the camera and then start casually shooting the surroundings. Once they’ve got used to the camera then you can comfortably start taking a photo.
Think about the type of photo you are after. If you want action shots, then focus on organising the photoshoot before your dog is about to head out on a three-mile run. If you want a more serene portrait then arrange for it to be afterwards.
Take plenty of photos
Regardless of the subject, the first rule of photography is to take lots of photos. The more you take, the better chance you have at getting the perfect shot.
Focus on your pet’s eyes
When taking photos of your cat or dog, one of the most important rules is to focus on your pet’s eyes. If their eyes aren’t in focus, then straightaway you know the photo won’t be good. Make sure you know which focus point is active. Do this yourself rather than letting your camera control it as it will likely focus on whatever is closest to the camera which will probably be their nose.
Turn off the flash
Warm, natural sunlight is the ideal lighting. When photographing your pet indoors during the day, make sure the curtains are open so you can take advantage of the natural light. Try to use an off-camera flash to give you a more natural-looking effect, especially if you point it upwards so the light bounces off the ceiling.
Check the background
Avoid taking photographs where the background will likely detract from your pet. A wide aperture will help, but you do need to be aware of what is going on behind them.
Get down to your pet’s eye level
If you just stand over your pet and look down, your photos will simply look like everyone else’s pet pictures. Aim to get at or below eye-level with your pet. This will add a wonderful intimacy to the photo.
Fast shutter speed for motion shots
To capture an animal in motion, you need a fast shutter speed and a camera and lens that can hold its focus on something moving. Put your camera into continuous focus mode and hold down the back-focus button or hold down the shutter halfway. You also need a fast shutter speed with your cat or dog’s eyes in the shot. It’s easier to focus if your pet is moving side to side rather than coming towards you.
Full body shots of your pet taken from a distance are nice but can get a little boring. Get up close to your pet so they fill the whole frame. If you get really close, you’ll be able to pick up the details of their whiskers or their long-wet nose. Photograph your pet in profile, head-on or at 45-degree angles. Don’t get too focused on perfection. Sometimes the best pet photos are the ones you don’t expect.
How to take great photos of your pet every time
Cats and dogs aren’t always the most cooperative family members when it comes to taking part in a photoshoot. They can easily get bored, become distracted or just not want to do what’s asked of them. But by following some of these tricks, you can look forward to capturing wonderful shots of your pet that you will enjoy for years to come.