Photographing Pets: Tips for Capturing Your Furry Friends in Their Best Light

Pet owners let’s be honest, we all love photographing our furry friends. Capturing photographs of our pets is something we all do when they’re doing something funny, looking extra cute, or simply just being themselves. 

Pets can be unpredictable and aren’t as easily controlled as humans when it comes to photography. That means it can be hard to get the ‘perfect shot’ of your pet, especially when taking lighting, background, preparation and equipment all into consideration too. 

This guide will take you through tips and tricks to improve the quality of your pet photographs and how to bring out their unique personalities through images. 

What’s the seal with pet photography?

Pets are such an important factor in many people’s lives, and as a result of this, you naturally enjoy taking photographs of your furry friends. Snapping images of your pets will capture the memories of the time you spent together, which you can cherish for the rest of your life. 

Be patient when working with difficult pets when taking photos 

Pets such as cats and dogs have relatively short attention spans, therefore they can get easily distracted, making it difficult to capture an image in the desired pose or position. Patience is key here as it may require multiple attempts to capture the right image. A second photoshoot may even be on the cards if your pet is too uncomfortable, stressed or has simply lost interest. 

Treats are effective because they serve as positive reinforcement for your pets. If your pets dislike the camera flash, offer them a treat each time the camera flashes. Similarly, if they struggle to sit still, reward them with a treat whenever they manage to sit still for a few seconds. This helps them associate the disliked action with positivity, making them more likely to repeat it.

How to prepare for a pet photoshoot

Allowing your pet to familiarise itself with any new environment where you plan on doing the photoshoot is a good idea. This way they will be more relaxed and be more likely to be your model without becoming stressed, distracted or uninterested. 

The same principle applies to any camera equipment. If your pet isn’t used to being around cameras, particularly if you’re going to be using a flash, it’s wise to let them get used to the flashing lights beforehand. This way you have increased chances of a successful photoshoot. 

The right lighting for your pet photography 

Like when photographing anything, lighting will play a huge part in how the photo turns out. The lighting will determine how bright or dark the image is and create shadows, highlights and contrast. 

Photographing outside is recommended for beginners as natural lighting is the easiest and cheapest light source and you don’t have to purchase photography lights for a high-quality image. When photographing outside, you want to avoid taking photos midday as this is when the light comes from overhead, resulting in shadows where they are unwanted. 

The best time for outdoor photography is just after sunrise, or just before sunset because the light is much softer. This is known as the ‘golden hour’, any weather app will tell you the time of sunrise and sunset, allowing you to plan for your photography shoots in advance. 

Having the right background for pet images 

Just like lighting, the background of your photos will differentiate a good photo from a bad one. Most people just think of their pet when photographing, but the background is just as important for a high-quality image. 

When out in nature, it’s much easier to have a scenic background to photograph your fluffy friend. Usually, anything looks good such as trees, water, grass, hills, mountains, lakes etc. 

On the other hand, when photographing indoors it’s much easier to have a background which ruins the image. Photographing with a neutral background such as a white or black wall is ideal, just ensure there’s no mess in the background to take the attention away from your pet. 

Final thoughts

Photographing your pets is a way to preserve memories which will last a lifetime. Preparing in advance for your photoshoots by allowing your pet to become familiar with the environment and equipment will put them at ease for the shoot, resulting in better photographs. 

Lighting and the background will make or break a good image. Ensure you have high-quality lighting, and when out in nature, aim to photograph just after sunrise, or just before sunset!

The most important thing to remember is patience! Animals have a much shorter attention span than us, so it’s important you take your time and be patient. Treats for positive reinforcement will help loads! 

Paul Newberry Cert CII

Lead Client Adviser