9 Pet Photography Tips

9 Pet Photography Tips

This guest post on Pet Photography was submitted by Antoine Khater at All Day I Dream About Photography.


Pets fill very quickly their place in our hearts and families and we enjoy having their pictures framed on our desk or wall! However taking pictures of your best friend is not always easy. Pets, unlike humans, do not understand what we are trying to do and won’t just pose for the camera! Here are 9 tips that will help you help you get the most of your photo session

1. Use Natural Light

If possible always use natural light when taking your pet in picture. Avoid flash, as flash burst can, not only cause red-eye, but also frighten the animal. Instead try to go outside or, if it is not possible, in a room well lit by a large window.

2. Keep the Eyes Sharp

Having sharp eyes is important in any kind of portraits photography. As they say, “Eyes are the Window to the Soul” and pets eye can be very expressive. So make sure to focus on your pet’s eyes and keep the tack sharp


3. Go to Them

It is very important that you pet feels comfortable and at ease, so instead of forcing him to come to you go to him. Most important is to get down to his level; We all know how a dog looks when viewed from above, this is the way we always see them. Show us the way they see world! Sit on the floor or lie on your belly and remember to shoot from HIS eye level or below.

4. Give Value to their Character

You know your pet better than anyone else, and a successful picture is one that conveys the character of its subject. If you have a lazy cat show him yawning, if your animal is of a playful type show him in action performing his favorite trick.


5. Go Macro

Put on that long lens and fill the frame with your pet’s face and fur, close up shots often make beautiful animal portrait.

6. Surprise Them

One of the most difficult things is to let your pet hold still. An easy trick is to let him play quietly and, once you have everything ready, let someone call for him or whistle. This will surprise him and caught his attention and you will have a few seconds to capture him in a nice and alert posture


7. Schedule your Session

If you are longing for a formal pet portrait shot, try to schedule the photo session when you’re animal is somewhat sleepy or has just woke up it will be much easier to keep him still then. If you want a more dynamic shot then pick up a time when your pet is energetic. If he is sick it is better to just postpone it for another day.

8. Be Patient

Pet photography requires a lot of patience. No matter how excited your furry friend is, if you are patient enough, he will end up by relaxing and you will have the opportunity to get a decent shot.


9. Experiment

Take your time and enjoy the session, try different approaches, angles and compositions. Shoot a lot you will have time to worry about the results later.

You have a tip that I forgot to mention here ? Make sure to share it with us


Want more pet photography tips?

Check out Snapn Paws: a Guide to Pet Photography.

Read more unique photography and retouching tips written by Antoine Khater at All Day I Dream About Photography or subscribe to his RSS feed

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Some Older Comments

  • Gypsee September 23, 2013 02:11 am

    I also find that often you can photograph an animal doing something that perhaps isn't so unusual, but during the course of their actions, can have a certain expression that when photographed, translates to a very pretty portrait or action shot.

    Great tip about not using flash! Not only does it ruin the eyes, but it causes light colored animals, particularly cats, to "glow" instead of having rich looking fur. I have both a Nikon SLR and a travel point and click, and following these tips with both cameras produces very nice shots :)

  • Jess August 10, 2013 12:11 pm

    Continuous mode is an excellent suggestion, you can capture some really great expressions. Having liver treats in your pocket helps too.

    Great tips as always!

  • Philip Lord July 24, 2013 04:07 am

    Great tips. As a pet photographer myself, I can associate with them

  • Sophia January 22, 2013 09:35 am

    I was kinda wondering how to put a really good backround in the picture. I take a picture of a plain or designed thing. Then i take a picture of my cat. How do i make the cat be on the back round? Do i need a green screen??

  • khalid December 31, 2012 11:44 pm

    Digital photography is becoming the most popular hobby of the world today. The recent developments of smartphones, iphone/ipad has changed the way, how we think of photography. To give professional touch to your photographs, now it is not necessary to consult some professional. One may use various tools and apps to make one’s photographs masterpieces instantly with a few taps, particularly those taken on graduation/wedding ceremony, honeymoon trip or New Year celebrations. I have used many such apps in recent past. One of such app is Photo Splash FX on iPhone/iPad that provides following unique features that you can’t find in any other app altogether. I noticed following notable features:

    · Make your shots awesome, no matter if they are old vintage, black and white or new high resolution colorful photos, by applying a plethora of special effects.

    · Use selective colors, variety of brush sizes (adjust manually or automatically), gestures like Pan/Zoom/Splash, unlimited Undos, Colorize, Tintalize, Recolor, blend brush to create custom effects and text blending on your photo.

    · It supports both landscape or portrait mode and options like loading/importing photo from Cloud, instead of just from the camera or photo library.

    · Choice of 135+ built-in effects on different parts of the same photo and still have the option of creating your own custom effects.

    · Option to make favorite list of built-in effects to choose them easily for future.

    · Share your masterpiece with your friends through Email, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picassa, Dropbox or post it in form of the post card, to anywhere in the world.

  • khalid November 26, 2012 08:42 pm

    Version 2:

    Being an experienced photographer are you looking for some impressive iPhone/iPad app to make your photographs masterpieces instantly with a few taps? Try Photo Splash FX, with following unique features that you can’t find in any other app altogether:

    · Make your shots awesome, no matter if they are old vintage, black and white or new high resolution colorful photos, by applying a plethora of special effects.
    · Use selective colors, variety of brush sizes (adjust manually or automatically), gestures like Pan/Zoom/Splash, unlimited Undos, Colorize, Tintalize, Recolor, blend brush to create custom effects and text blending on your photo.
    · It supports both landscape or portrait mode and options like loading/importing photo from Cloud, instead of just from the camera or photo library.
    · Choice of 135+ built-in effects on different parts of the same photo and still have the option of creating your own custom effects.
    · Option to make favorite list of built-in effects to choose them easily for future.
    · Share your masterpiece with your friends through Email, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picassa, Dropbox or post it in form of the post card, to anywhere in the world.

  • Vickie Lewis October 21, 2012 06:37 am

    Great tips! And I agree--shooting RAW all the time is the best way to go. And remember to check your histogram. It really helps getting the exposure right.

  • Clairre October 5, 2012 01:26 pm

    The kitty on the shoe is very cute and I love it. It reminds me every time I see that dog in the window. It is just so lovely and cute. Makes me want to hug it:) I'm a pet lover...

  • Elissa May 9, 2012 11:07 pm

    PS: I also use a shallow DOF. In fact, I've had excellent results with a Nikon 135mm DC (defocus control) lens or a long lens with a shallow DOF. The sharper the lens, the better to contrast the subject with the shallow DOF.

  • Elissa May 9, 2012 10:58 pm

    Don't know if anyone mentioned this, but I've found that shooting in continuous mode gets shots you would normally miss.

  • Isabelle May 9, 2012 04:05 am

    Missing 7,8,9... certainly the reason why I couldn't put my cat into my left shoe.

  • pet portraits April 7, 2012 10:48 pm

    I love the shot of the cat you have used when talking about keeping the eyes sharp. To me, it's all about the eyes, with humans and in particular pets. The eyes are where all the life and soul can be seen. If you capture bright, lively and sharp eyes, the rest of the shot can be average and you will still have a great pet portrait. Many thanks for the tips, they are very useful. pet portraits

  • pet portraits,pet photography March 27, 2012 01:46 am

    Capturing your pets character and personality in your photos is where to aim for. You cant get this in a studio, you get this by photographing your pet on his favourite walk or outside in the garden with his ball or favourite chew. Get out there into the natural light and capture your pet at his best and most relaxed. Great article. Thansk for the tips!

  • Jaime March 18, 2012 12:49 am

    Buy some stinky seafood treats and dangle them over the lens. You will get awesome close-up eye shots that will knock your socks off: http://www.petphotographyhq.com/2012/02/23/focus-on-the-eyes/

  • Kevin February 16, 2012 06:54 am

    Brisbane Bill and Paul C,
    Agree with both of you, Brisbane you can also use (Studio) lighting with an extra Defuser over it. Wonderful effect, I stay away from flash because as I lived an learned it "WILL" scare the bejesus out of an animal... Animals are wonderful to photograph, they are a part of the family and if we must as Professionals, Get the family involved, get them in the photo some way if they wish to make the Dog,cat, Equine or bird more cofortable........ Paul C. All respect ......Try and get down to or get up to the pet level, this makes them more comfy. If the they see a giant coming at them with a camera they will most likely get spooked ( I found that out), with a Horse and a Doberman.. Good thing is that I backed off quick but slow (if that makes sense)... And all worked out. In the end I got the shots and now have more clients. Always remember to ASK, ASK, ASK..Try to find out as much as possible of the pet prior to shoot, this way you do not go in blind.
    I hope this helps, This is just my 2 coins in the fountain.
    Be safe be well, Happy Shooting
    Kevin Atwell

  • Paul C. January 30, 2012 04:14 pm

    Haven't taken very many pet photos yet but one thing that can make a great shot is trying to single out a quality of the pet, whether physical or behavioral, and make that the main focus of your photo. For example, if people think that your puppy is cute because it is tiny, then try taking a shot that accentuates that.

  • Brisbane Bill January 13, 2012 10:16 am

    Yes, I have started using a couple of LED lights as a light source in low light conditions. These have some decent advantages in they are battery operated, light and portable, throw of a surprising amount of light but do not produce red-eye or cause subjects to be startled or blink at the sudden bright light of a flash. The light is very white also, so doesn’t give a colour cast that needs fixing up later. They are also extremely low cost. Our local hardware store recently had a promo on some that gave me two for $20. I would definitely give them a try. You want ones that have 12 or more LEDs in their cluster – the more the better – so don’t go for the small 3 or 5 LED lights. They have too narrow a beam and aren’t going to be bright enough.

  • Heather Roberts January 12, 2012 01:44 pm

    I need to shoot pics inside my local animal shelter. The light is horrible, the flash scares more than it helps -even when bouncing. Wondering if anyone has had any luck using a flashlight or lamp as a fill light?

  • Rum Robinson November 25, 2011 10:44 pm

    I find it very difficult to get a really good shot of my cat with his eyes open. If he is still, he is asleep, otherwise he's rushing around at a pace I can't keep up with!

  • Daddy's Little Girl November 11, 2011 06:09 am

    thanks for the tips. i love photography but is not that good. anyway i know this will help alot thanks:)

  • hansi trompka November 4, 2011 06:55 am

    Great tips...
    What do you think about mine?



  • Doris Rudd October 25, 2011 10:11 pm

    "Hold a biscuit in your mouth" – Brilliant. I'm going to give this a try. I have a dog who's afraid of gadgets. Point a cell phone, camera in his face and he ducks his head. Maybe the biscuit trick will work.

    Her's a shot I managed to capture of him last year.

    I'm inspired to photograph him again. I think it's time for a portrait.

  • John Daniel October 25, 2011 12:23 am

    One of the most important ways to get good pet photos is to start them off early. We raise English Bulldogs and the photos start at birth. By the time they are a couple of months old, they are so familiar with the camera and the flash, it's no bog deal. They do actually seem to pose -- or is it just "i know you are gong to do it; just hurry and get it over with!"

  • Brenda B October 24, 2011 10:44 pm

    Didn't see that I could add photos. Here is a picture of one of my 5 Saint Bernards. They and my 2 cats are my favorite subjects!

  • Brenda B October 24, 2011 10:13 pm

    These are excellent tips. The easiest way to take pet photos I have found is just to follow them and have fun. But the number one tip is treats. Lots and lots of treats! Whether it is a squeaky toy, a tug rope or a food treat. Pets always give you great expression when they want what you have. ;0)

  • kandy October 24, 2011 03:19 pm

    I've found that having a bag of small treats or a new squeaky toy helps to keep their attention, but don't go overboard on either. Try to attempt some unique sounds that are new to the dog. They tend to offer a curious glance if they wonder what that noise was, but like anyone else, they can tire of a sound. Pull them out as necessary. It's also nice to include part of the owner in the shot; their feet, a hand on the pet's head, shaking it's paw, or featuring them out of focus in the background. The human connection sort of gives the shot a dog-as-family-member feel to it. Which in my book, they are. :o)


  • Anastasiya October 24, 2011 11:41 am

    I was lucky this weekend to babysit my friend's puppy!
    here are you can see 3 BEST shots


    there were morearound 100 shots - in this age dogs are so active :)

  • Anastasiya October 24, 2011 11:40 am

    [eimg url='https://digital-photography-school.com/forum/members/hichkok-albums-weekly-fun-picture59343-img-9090.jpg' title='hichkok-albums-weekly-fun-picture59343-img-9090.jpg']

    I was lucky this weekend to babysit my friend's puppy!
    here are you can see 3 BEST shots


    there were morearound 100 shots - in this age dogs are so active :)

  • Kathy Lancy October 22, 2011 12:44 am

    Thanks so much for so many good ideas. In the meantime I guess I just use elements to turn them black.

  • Janna October 21, 2011 05:36 pm

    Here's my favourite photo of Mr Cleo:
    and the rest of them are in this set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/actdontreact/sets/72157627911067246/with/6248456550/
    Hope you like them :)

  • sigfried baterina October 21, 2011 03:05 pm


  • Brisbane Bill October 21, 2011 12:55 pm

    I have just taken up the challenge of the question posed a couple of times regarding "what about a $175 camera?". I have literally just picked up a camera that was bought for $250 three years ago that I have since given to my daughter after buying a DSLR and is probably of lower spec than current sub $150 cameras. Two photos were taken just moments ago of my two dogs at rest. I used the manual settings on the camera (yup, even cheaper cameras have manual settings). Whilst the results will be far from "pro" they demonstrate that you can be creative and get worthwhile pet portraits. The third image was one of the first I took with the new DSLR I bought and shows that you can get a dog to pose - not a technically brilliant photo but I had just unpacked the camera, stuck on the kit lense and told my dog to sit.


  • Kelly October 21, 2011 10:40 am

    Gorgeous pics in the main post. I have much to learn.
    I love photographing pets, capturing each ones personality is the most important i think.

  • ThePuptographer October 21, 2011 10:01 am

    My site is http://www.puptographer.com

    I prefer indoor well lit photos with colorful backdrops. Most dogs don't mind strobes and you can catch their expression before the strobe startles them (if it even does). I've only had one dog hate the strobes. There justbisnt good enough constant light to get your shutter speed up to 250 which I find optimal so as to freeze the subject, especially in a roll or jump or shake. A water bottle mister is great for fun expressions when they shake it off.

    My tips: shoot lots of frames, shoot high shutter speed, higher iso can help, be patient and if possible, never have the owner there. ;)

  • ozzie October 21, 2011 07:23 am

    Great tips. DPS has provided much inspiration for the expansion of my horizon. Thanks.


  • Alexandra October 21, 2011 06:40 am

    1)Try to hold your camera with one hand ( prepare all the settings beforehand) take an object in your free hand. It can be anything your pet is interested in. My cat reacts well if I just raise the lens lid in my free hand and scratch it with my fingers. Thus I can control what direction she is looking. ( Although, to be honest, I'm lucky as my cat is very understanding and used to being photographed)

    2)Focus on something other than eyes, but make it deliberately ( I mean, choose a point, not just lose your focus). I find pics of my cat where I focus on her paws while her head is blurred in the background quite cute.

    3) I noticed that pets get used to cameras quickly. So don't panic if an animal is interested in the camera and doesn't want to sit still. Let the pet get used to that strange clicking black box.

    4) If your animal is looking at something else and you are shooting from a side, for example, show also what he/she is looking at.

    5) I noticed that some owners like to dress their pets before the photo-shoot. I personally don't do this but I think many people find it adorable.

    That's all so far but I might come up with some more tips later.

  • nani October 21, 2011 06:18 am

    I found this cute dog at Central Park :)

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/nani-photos/5892214852/' title='Project 365: Day 182' url='http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5195/5892214852_4baebc314f.jpg']

  • Nickk October 21, 2011 05:17 am

    My cat Ozzy


  • Nickk October 21, 2011 05:16 am

    My cat Ozzy

  • Kathy Lancy October 21, 2011 02:41 am

    Regarding animals I know that red eye correction does not work.
    Anybody know what does when the eyes come out yellow?

  • nani October 21, 2011 02:02 am

    this is my favorite one:


  • Rebecca Ednie October 20, 2011 02:06 pm

    My best tip: tidy your pet up before the photo session. I got a gorgeous photo of my cat only to find some of those gross uggy eye goopy things messing up my shot. And I didn't know how to use editing software at the time. I can imaging a good brushing and teeth cleaning could be useful for some cats and most dogs.

  • Beth October 20, 2011 08:28 am

    You can use a flash to help photograph black animals. I have a beautiful solid black cat and the best way to get her to show up in photographs I've found is to use a mounted flash (not the onboard flash). I have a Nikon Speedlight that I can bounce off the ceiling. Don't direct the flash into the animal's eyes - not only will you get the redeye problem, but it will irritate or frighten the animal. By using the bounce flash option, I've been able to get some incredible photos of my cats taken indoors (my cats aren't allowed outside).

  • chicago wedding photography October 20, 2011 03:47 am

    looks like lonely dog lol :-)

  • Marla October 20, 2011 01:00 am

    Great tips & photo examples.

  • Sarah October 20, 2011 12:55 am

    Patience and timing is the key I've found. And I agree with the poster before me, Jason, I'd position myself for the best light and wait for them to come past. chasing pets (and kids for that matter) means I'm out of position and have to set myself up, steady and squeeze. Staying put means I'm already set up and steady, just need to squeeze.

  • Jason St. Petersburg Photographer October 19, 2011 01:53 pm

    I do not really think of indoor shots when I think of pet photography, nor when I do pet photography, but I mostly photograph dogs and I prefer to photograph them in action in a dog park or similar location:


    My tip for shooting in a dog park would be to position yourself for the best lighting (back to the sun) and wait for the dog(s) to pass in front of your lens in the prime light and cleanest background. I use this method rather than chasing them around because even if I can catch up to them the light might not be idea nor the background.

    I use an 80-200mm lens or sometimes a 105mm lens.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck October 19, 2011 01:04 pm


    Here is a wonderful shot of some Aussies waiting for their Dad to come back from diving off Catalina in California...so well behaved! Shot with a 70-200mm f2.8 wide open.


  • Scottc October 19, 2011 11:16 am

    Great article, though a bit favorable of cats....

    Did he say sit?


  • Jose Castillo October 19, 2011 10:43 am

    I just got low and mimicked the movements i saw from those camera men recording NFL games on the sidelines with those weighted cameras. It worked! my blog was Freshly Pressed on wordpress.com and has gotten over 12,000 views! http://tronfoto.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/puppies-doggies-and-more/

  • Ramón October 19, 2011 08:14 am

    De-clutter, and be very mindful of unnecessary objects in the frame.

  • Jean-Pierre October 19, 2011 08:02 am

    Use what you have, patience is key. I used a vintage, manual focus lens on my digital camera for this one. Ones posted above are great!


  • Jake October 19, 2011 07:56 am

    Great tips there. Like to try them out.

    Here are some pictures I took of my parents border collie: http://usedglass.blogspot.com/2011/05/diese-wochenende-war-ich-mal-wieder-bei.html
    She likes to run and play the whole time, so it quite difficult to catch her with a manual focus lens ;-)

  • Ed Letts October 19, 2011 07:20 am

    Great tips. I have 3 cats and getting photos of them is always a challenge. 2 are black which makes it even more difficult. Mostly I just keep the camera handy and try to catch them being themselves. This set has one of each of them.


  • Jessica Rymarz June 10, 2011 09:32 am

    That was quite an interesting article. I will be reading more of your blogs in the future. Thanks so much!

  • Stacey June 9, 2011 01:21 am

    Great site, I love taking shots of animals, and patients is definitely a major component of taking our furry friends' pictures :P xo

  • Pet Portraits May 23, 2011 05:17 pm

    Wow great tips! I especially like the idea of going to the pet instead of having them pose for you, it would be so much simpler. Thanks for the great tips (and pictures)!

  • Steph Skardal March 9, 2011 07:09 am

    Great tips - although I'd probably add one more: be adaptable to different dog behavior / mannerisms since dog personalities are all over the place.

  • Peacey Person March 7, 2011 08:35 am

    Who the frick frack has time???!!! :O Ohh yahh. :P Andddd those pics are good. :D

  • Denver Pet Photographers February 18, 2011 04:40 pm

    I can't say this enough how important it is to use a macro lens for pet photography

  • Lizzie February 15, 2011 04:40 pm

    I always feel silly posting on this like this months after the last poster, but I'd like to ask a question, if anyone happens to know an answer.

    I already have multiple cats that I love to photograph, but I'm a dog person...through and through. I'd love to take more dog photos, but I have two problems. Number 1, I don't have any dogs, nor do I live near any dogs...how can I get in contact with people that do own dogs...and would like pictures taken (I have been asked to do cat photography by people before). And secondly, what kind of camera (digital) would be best for things like this? My parents each own a high-tech digital, but I don't. I'm wanting to get one maybe for Christmas this next year, and then work on taking photography classes (something that I've just never done before).

  • Jennifer Zhang December 8, 2010 12:20 pm

    These tips are pretty useful, and I'm learning on how to be a pro photographer. Thanks for the help! =]

  • Heidi December 4, 2010 06:21 am

    Thanks, Antoine and Darren, for the great tips! We linked to your article in our blog post on the subject: http://blog.dogwatch.com//2010/12/02/how-to-take-great-pet-pictures/

    Keep up the good work!
    The DogWatch Hidden Fences Team

  • Caylee Hunter November 17, 2010 04:09 pm

    These are great tips that are very useful. I am very lucky because I have manged to get some great shots of my pup, he is very photogenic and has the softest eyes. I just always try to snap as many as possible and then sort through them later after the initial moment is captured.

  • Jitske Memoli September 5, 2010 10:55 pm

    Hi Darren , I send a comment already, but I think something went wrong.
    First of all compliments for your lovely site.

    A tip from on professional to an other: You can create a memolio album in a matter of minutes as one of the good ways to show Pet

    Photography.[eimg url='http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4319986/Pip.JPG' title='Pip.JPG']

  • Jitske Memoli September 5, 2010 10:52 pm

    Compliments for your lovely site.

    Tip: You can create a memolio album in a matter of minutes as one of the good ways to show Pet Photography.

    [eimg url='http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4319986/Pip.JPG' title='Pip.JPG']

  • Jitske Memoli September 5, 2010 10:50 pm

    Compliments for your lovely site.

    Tip: You can create a memolio album in a matter of minutes as one of the good ways to show Pet

    Photography.[eimg url='http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4319986/Pip.JPG' title='Pip.JPG']

  • Crystal August 4, 2010 10:12 am

    A great tool that I use is a squeak toy. It's great to get that surprised/begging look. It just becomes difficult to focus, squeak, and press the shutter :-)

  • Jack July 29, 2010 06:50 pm

    Hi ... this collection of is truly amazing , all of them are very nice but the one which i like the most is the third tip..keep up the good work.

  • Victoria M April 5, 2010 01:54 am

    Just a thought for the point-and-shoot owners out there: the best way to get great shots without fancy equipment is to read your owner's manual! I thought I'd never get more than "decent" shots with my little $150 sony cybershot, but after reading about the different menu options and when to use each setting, my images really improved. I actually tied for 8th place in an amateur photo contest with just my little sony, going up against guys and gals with the $4k kits. Knowing the options and limits of your gear can make a huge difference in your image creation, and the limits are broader than you might think!

    I still use my cybershot at least as often as my new D5000 since I had to start a whole new learning curve with all the new settings and options. Check out your manual, and even your local library for books on shooting with your camera model. Happy shooting!

  • Paul Saulnier March 12, 2010 08:06 am

    low Fstop ...the max it will go ...set iso at about 400 ....adjust shutter speed to the maz it will go ....make sure its a bit dark in your camera screen ...shoot in raw ..then sharpen when you get home on the comp ...should work perfect

  • Anne W. March 11, 2010 10:03 pm

    I have a Nikon D60 and use a Tamron 18-270 lens at the dog park. I am having a very difficult time getting the eyes of dogs sharp when they're running and playing. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I try the fastest shutter speed I can and still having trouble.

  • Michael L January 31, 2010 01:52 pm

    Thanks for the tips Antonie. Making sure your pet's eyes are in focus is a great tip. And like JP mentioned, some of the tips are helpful for when shooting with kids too. heh. Good point!

    Thanks Darren for all your work. I like the info you share on Problogger too.


  • Yasmin Yanick December 31, 2009 11:28 am

    I was very pleased to find this blog.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoyed every word of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff in the future.

  • Kevin Shorter December 18, 2009 04:43 am

    Thank you very much for these tips. It is the patience that I need to work on.

  • Carol Lundeen November 29, 2009 10:54 pm

    Especially love the tip about being patient. That's something that's easy to forget.

  • Marcie Hill October 5, 2009 06:05 am

    Darren, thanks for this. I am going to give it a shot today. Wishe me well!

  • acierman October 4, 2009 10:27 pm

    i was invited twice to a dog park party for a shoot ....they loved my last one the most ...i tried ...dogs view of the world ...kept the camera at dogs angle on life ...and used a flash also ....so ...i was using a rebel xti ....a tamron 17-35mm f2.8 with a sigma 530 flash ...just pointed it at dogs ...at the hight of there legs ...shooting up ...gave me some great shots

  • Dwayne D.C. Tucker II October 4, 2009 06:11 am


    What's up!! Just dropping by to see what you were sharing on pet photography. I am starting to shoot the pets in my building here in Miami make some extra university funds :)

    Take care!

    Dwayne D.C. Tucker II
    Photography For You.
    Nassau, Bahamas

  • Jennifer Moore August 18, 2009 05:21 am

    These are really good tips, especially the one about shooting in RAW. I never would have thought to do that.

    We have 9 cats. Plenty of opportunity to play with the camera. We have a number of good photos of them.

  • Karen July 24, 2009 03:21 am

    I have 3 huskies, and some of my best pictures of them are when they are just playing together in the yard. I sit in one place, follow them with the camera and click away. Then I move to a different spot and do the same thing. You get great action shots, and even ones when they stop moving for a second.

  • irene July 23, 2009 01:50 pm

    great tips.. i cant wait to try them on my 3 dogs. :) have no problems with the 2 as they soimply love the camera. One challenge i would take on is my hyperactive camera-shy dog.

  • Roberta July 22, 2009 03:11 am

    I've been trying to take some good pictures of sweet maltese, but it's not that easy. I'll try some of those tips.
    I liked this one I took on a car trip. Dogs and car windows, they were made for each other!

  • mich July 21, 2009 06:22 pm

    I love taking pictures to my pets, i use the food trick to the dogs, cause theye can get crazy XD


    Please, feel free to comment or critic :D

  • Don July 20, 2009 05:58 pm

    My little tip, I know it may seem obvious... If you having a growing puppy, like me, they'll inevitably rip some sort of squeaky toy(s) to shreds. Instead of just throwing it all away, be sure to keep the squeaker. I leave it in my camera bag. When I'm trying to photo my puppy and needs his attention I just give the squeaker a couple of presses. Usually I can get a good 2-5 seconds of alertness/attention.

  • Sally July 18, 2009 04:01 am

    I clip off ears sometimes, and it still seems to work as long as the eyes are in focus.

  • Bea July 17, 2009 08:16 pm

    One important tip, have food ready :) Either to make them move or as reward after the photo session, it works wonders! My cat loves the camera and will pose for photos as soon as I get it out - he knows he'll get lots of praise, cuddles and treats during and afterwards! But the most important tip is indeed patience.


  • Todd July 17, 2009 08:35 am

    Actually, my cats (Oscar & Marmalade) are used to the flash as they were photographed as kittens. A Lot!
    I do see where this could cause problems with animals less used to sudden light though. Bounce flash works best to avoid the alien kitty look (ie red or green eye depending on breed).

  • Susan Jane Murray July 17, 2009 07:47 am

    We have dogs, cats, chickens, parrots, love birds, a cockatiel, parakeets, horses, and degus. I really like all of these tips because I just can't seem to get great photos. However, I'm just a beginner (got my Nikon D300 for Christmas) and have little experience using it so far. I'm really looking forward to trying all these suggestions with our "kids" and see if I can't do better. We live in Ireland now, so a great big "hello" to all the good friends back home in the States and California.

  • Cindy July 17, 2009 03:45 am

    I have always photographed my Labradors from the day I brought them home. Now, they are very comfortable and not curious when I have the camera pointed at them, in fact I think my Labrador, Jack poses when the camera is pointed his way. I have found that when I try and photograph pets that are not familar with a camera that they are always curious and need time to get use to the camera "looking" at them. Let them explore the camera and sometimes peeping out from behind the lens will surprise the pet and makes for a great photo.

  • Beth July 17, 2009 02:34 am

    Oh, now I see an exception: http://www.flickr.com/photos/drummp2/2260978115/in/set-72157607510037172/

    Strictly a mouth shot so it doesn't give the impression of cutting the ears off.

    Please excuse my three posts in a row.


  • Beth July 17, 2009 02:31 am

    As far as ears go, notice the cats by the poster above, Paul Drumm.



    Nice ears.

    Beth again.

  • Beth July 17, 2009 02:28 am

    I've looked at many of the photos linked from this discussion. I must add one tip. Tell me if you disagree.

    Do not cut the ears off of anyone you photograph.

    I know that with people you can crop through the top of the head on occasion (although I personally never can do it well) you would not slice through a person's ears. Since most pets' ears are on the top of the head, you really can't crop close to the eyes without unnerving the viewer.

  • Michael July 17, 2009 02:27 am

    Thanks for the article. I'm getting two kittens in a month or so, so I will be applying all of the above over and over again..:)


  • Paul Drumm July 17, 2009 01:34 am

    There's 2 cats in our family and I often try and use them as interesting subjects. The tip about the natural light I found extremely relevant, I always found using the flash was too much for them. The macro tip is also great for some interesting shots.

    Here's my 2 cents of pet photos, please feel free to critic :)


    Thanks as always Darren for some more excellent tips!

  • pet photography July 16, 2009 10:29 pm

    Taking pet photographs is a fun and exciting experience.cats are one of my favorite pets i would like to have..
    thanks for these excellent tips on pet photography...this information would help me to take photographs of my favorite pet.


  • Brian Chen July 16, 2009 02:39 pm

    This was some really good insight and after reading, this is what I got out of it --> http://www.brianschen.com/index.php?showimage=237

    Check it out and lemme know what you guys think!

  • Chris Clark July 14, 2009 11:15 pm

    Hi There Me again

    check out my website on the tabs for pet portraits and let me know what you think.

    All hand held, natural light, little bit of photoshop now and again, def no flashes, def no studio work. Up to 2 hours for a photoshoot, over 100 images taken at each shoot and always end up with around 50-70 useable images. Always shoot in raw format on manual mode and generally underexposed.

    The tips here are excellent.

  • bIG bEN July 14, 2009 08:44 pm

    @ Nikonboy
    Definatley! Goat's are one of my favourite animals and I had plenty growing up. I love how playful they are and how intelligent they are. The make great photography subjects because of their nonchalant eyes.

  • Nikonboy July 14, 2009 08:24 pm

    Would a goat be considered a pet? :)


  • Dave Brown July 14, 2009 08:28 am

    I totally agree with being patient. I have a boston terrier who I think for the most part is completely annoyed that I'm always taking his picture, but I will just sit in one place and let him do his thing, he's awfully good at posing, even though he'll start to get a little curious once ive clicked quite a few shots. So I would also suggest making sure that your exposure is dead on because you might only get one attempt at a shot.

  • Ian Ramsey July 14, 2009 07:24 am

    I disagree that you need to use a long lens for pet photography. I've had some great results with a wide-angle lens when I've used it.


  • Bridget Casas July 14, 2009 04:10 am

    I have done a lot of pet photography and it is difficult. You really need the owner's help and it is better if they are in a confined area. I was at the park Saturday taking photos of a two year old boy (human) and he was harder to photograph than the dogs! I have photographed dogs at the park and at least if you lay on the ground they will come at you to see what you are doing!

  • CJAYJR July 14, 2009 03:51 am

    Fantastic tips! My wife and I have two Min Pins and they are my favorite subjects for taking pictures. See my photos at: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/543369

    One suggestion I would make that I don't think I saw in the tips given is to shoot in burst. I use the four burst option with my Fuji E900 and this gives me four shots to choose from and I guarantee you - you will get the perfect shot sooner than later but using this method. I always get down at their level even if I have to lie on my stomach or even just hold the camera down at their level without looking through the viewfinder because you're bound to get a great shot if it is in focus. I've taken over 50 shots just sitting on the patio with our dogs while they move around or just lay on their blanket and yes their eyes are so expressive. So my tip is use the burst mode and you'll get that shot that you would probably miss by taking one shot at a time.


  • Chris Clark July 14, 2009 01:14 am

    Brilliant tips on Pet photography, I do Pet Portraits here in Scotland and follow most of these rules................................................... No Studio work and only natural lighting and no flash.

    Someone gave me this link to your page on RedBubble and I am glad to have visited. Have bookmarked the page so that I can come back again.

    Hello to everyone in Melbourne and Australia from a sunny, wet Scotland on Monday 13th July 2009 at 1614hrs GMT.

    Cheers Guys

  • B. Donnelly July 13, 2009 11:41 pm

    I suggest you don't use a camera mounted flash. Animals will learn quickly to avoid the camera.

    Do hold a biscuit in your mouth while shooting if you want them to look right at you. http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnelly/3565286286/in/set-72157618798744644/

  • Zack Jones July 13, 2009 08:54 pm

    Great tips, thanks for sharing them.

    Two additional tips:

    1 - Buy a cheap laser pointer. This can be used for two different purposes. First cats love to chase it around. This is a good way to tire them out. Second you can flash it on a distant wall and usually the cat will spot it and look in that direction.

    2 - If the cat is laying down then set your camera on the ground and shoot from that height. A P&S camera works well or having one with liveview works as well.

  • MeiTeng July 13, 2009 01:16 pm

    The first photo's so cute!

  • Peter Lee July 13, 2009 12:51 pm

    This a very useful post for me because I've hard time shooting my sis's pet male dog. When I take my camera it will move away. :-( Cheers Peter

  • johnp July 13, 2009 12:45 pm

    One thing that works for me when photographing our cats is to use their curiosity. If you are outside they tend to watch what you are up to through a window. You can get an interesting well lit shot through a (clean) window. They seem happy to pose and the window can act as a frame. You may need to put a chair by the window for them to sit on.

  • Thanh July 13, 2009 09:31 am

    Thanks for the tips :)

  • Ashley Johnson June 12, 2009 07:03 am

    Good tips for pet photography. Our biggest piece of advice is to be patient, and let the animal warm up to you enough that they relax and begin to be themselves. Then you get the good shots. We are Cincinnati Pet Photographers that are always looking for good tips and ideas. Thanks!

  • Nancy May 14, 2009 09:15 am

    Great tips! I think another valuable tip is to be persistent: shoot often and shoot LOTS. Okay, that may be two tips. I've been shooting our elderly dog daily for the past two months as a way to get to know my camera and lens (Nikon D80/50mm 1.8) and I post the best image each day on her blog: www.jaine365.blogspot.com. This forces me to do the PP, which I'm also trying to get better at. If she's in a rambunctious mood, I practice my sports photography, if she's sleepy, I practice portrait angles, if she's roaming, I practice incorporating some environmental stuff. I can't say I love every day's result, but I certainly appreciate every day's practice.

  • caroline April 9, 2009 10:58 pm

    My dogs love the camera. Maybe a little bit too much. As soon as I get down on the floor with it, they're licking me, the camera, climbing on me and all over each other. So unless I'm sneaking up on them while they're sleeping, I usually make sure they have something else to occupy them. I've gotten great photos of them playing together, chewing bones, etc. If someone's around, I'll have someone else play with them, and a lot of times I'll take them outside to run. They're so happy to be running around that they totally ignore me.

    As far as guinea pigs and other small critters, a friend of mine has had great luck taking them outdoors. Getting down to their eye level, and getting the grass up close, really makes for a cool photo.

  • bob March 22, 2009 10:16 am

    I liked all the pictures here and I agree the dogs in my house hate the flash. I bought a discontinued Nikon D200 and a disco 80-200 lens 2.8 with no VR and I do not need flash anymore. Not that this makes me a pro to have a decent camera of course...LOL. I liked the continous shoot mode idea. I am more of a dog person as opposed to cat people. Dogs can be relaxed my playing ball with them as well. I love to see them run and forget the strange thing hanging from the neck...

  • Sally November 29, 2008 10:10 pm

    I often use a very long lens. My favorite lens is a Tamron 75-300 Tele-macro. That way I can stay away from them and catch them acting natural. I use it too when I am taking candid pictures of people with animals.

    And you do not need a dSLR to get good pictures of pets. Many of my earlier pictures are with P&S's. I still keep my Canon p&s with me all of the time just in case a picture opportunity comes along. Get down to the animal's level. Be patient. Put it on continuous shooting if you have it. Take lots of pictures (sometimes I will fill a couple of 1 g cards only to get 2 keepers). Crop your photos. Remember the difference between a good photographer and a bad one is you don't see the good photographer's bad pictures.

  • Brooke November 29, 2008 01:24 pm

    Wow, great advice. i have been trying for ages to get a good shot of my puppy. The other day i took my guinea pig and pup out the back and got some amazing shots on the grass. Getting on eye level really works and looks amazing. My puppy Maxi is definantly not camera shy!

  • bIG bEN November 4, 2008 11:23 pm

    I really struggled with the natural lighting in the first snow at Zermatt last week when taking some shots of a friends dog. This is one of the better ones that my wife took
    I definitely found the benefits of shooting in RAW (although didn't do too well post processing yet)

  • acierman November 2, 2008 07:27 pm

    i agree with most things here ..not every body knows how to use a flash ...and you must go to the pet ..they dont come to you ...usualy ...i think the pets are camera shy ...but i did get some pretty good ones myself ..after alot of trial and error...its come to a point that i even got a photo shoot coming up with santa clause at a pet supply store ...he wants me to take pictures of him with peoples pets ...should be fun ...i will be using 2 flashes for sure ...and i cant wait

  • Trude November 2, 2008 12:45 pm

    Thanks for the great tips and comments! I highly recommend setting your camera to continuous shooting. It makes it a lot easier to get the money shot with an active pet!

  • Sally November 1, 2008 07:25 am

    I shoot pictures of dogs (and an occasional cat) for a local rescue group. One thing besides for everything else said that I tell others is to use continuous shooting. Between that right profile and the left profile you got is a great shot with the dog looking directly at you that you missed. So if you have continuous shooting use it.

    Crop your pictures! And speaking of cropping....

    Another tip is to have someone get under a blanket or sheet and hold the animal from underneath. (This might work good for all of you pocket animal photographers). http://www.flickr.com/photos/8800743@N02/813157243/
    Crop the picture and you have a great portrait. http://www.flickr.com/photos/8800743@N02/813157225/
    And yes I know that it isn't a great picture, but my son took the pictures that day and insisted on using flash. He refused to get under the sheet.

  • Tara@ Main Street Dog September 21, 2008 10:55 am

    I will be featuring this blog on mine tomorrow! These tips are great for pet owners to use yo get the best pics of their babies.

  • Rachel August 18, 2008 10:32 am

    I have found that #6 works very well.

  • French Bulldog Blog May 29, 2008 04:13 am

    I will for sure mention these tips and use them on my blog.
    Good One!

  • SitPretty March 4, 2008 03:19 am

    These are some great tips. I use many of them myself.

    Talking about the "surprise them" mentioned above. Surprising them shouldn't be done with a load bang or firecracker or anything. A simple psssst will often do the job :)

    I also read mention of the lower end cameras above - you aren't going to be able to capture the images that they got above with a low end point and click. You might get lucky from time to time, but the high end digital cameras do a great job.
    I use the Nikon 300 personally and it's awesome.

  • Elliott Kim - 21st Century Dad February 18, 2008 10:22 am

    I don't have such an aversion to using flash for pet photography. Flash gets a bad rap because people don't know how to use it properly.

    If you have a DSLR, it's relatively simple to move the flash off the camera and trigger it remotely. Position the flash so it bounces off the ceiling and fills the room. With the flash and camera set to manual, you can get a consistent exposure almost anywhere in a small or medium sized room.

  • Heidi February 14, 2008 10:10 am

    I've taken pictures of horses, llamas, and ducks (in addition to the usual cats and dogs). I have found that letting the animal get to know you before you even have a camera in your hand is very helpful. Then, when you're walking around them with a camera, they won't get as freaked. It also lets you get to know how they react to certain movements so you can plan those as you start shooting.

  • Agnes February 12, 2008 02:43 pm

    Thanks for the information, now I know how to photograph my pets.Thank you so much

  • Fort Myers Photographer February 11, 2008 02:24 am

    The fist picture of the kitten is too cute!

  • Mark February 10, 2008 08:34 am

    ISO100, good answer. I think I shall do that. Wanna contribute to the Mark-needs-a-new-camera fund? PayPal please. :)

  • ISO100 February 10, 2008 06:37 am

    "Yes but what if you had a £150 digicam from Sony"

    i would buy a different camera

  • Cindy February 9, 2008 09:07 am

    for small animals such as gerbils etc. I put them in the bathtub so they can't climb out and escape... food treats such as non-sugar cereal, dried corn on the cob, sunflower seeds, etc. help to keep them still. fun props such as boxes, shoes, logs etc. add to the fun. good luck.

  • dev February 9, 2008 04:41 am

    Or you could get them right after you let them into the house if their outsit pets, they show up greatfull and flirty. It will really show your pets true kind soul.

  • Michiel February 9, 2008 02:46 am

    For those who want to try taking picture's of (young) cats, here's one for you:

    Play, play and play until they are tiered, feed them and wait for them to get sleepy. Tha's the moment you want top photograph a you kitten. Especially for group photo's (and I dit groups of 14 kittens) this is the way to go.

    Also, before you start, make shure you have a number of different teasers. Some cats like furry things, others long ropy things and others like feathery things. Take the one the animal responds to.

    Finally, when working with animals make shure you choose a worksplace where they can't hurt themself when they jump off. Any cat, dog of whateven WILL try to escape. When place to high, they might break something or worse.....


    Oke, one more (the most important one): If the animal does not want to work with you, let it go. I's no use trying to force them. This will ruine the picture and possibly hurt the animal.

  • Joyce February 8, 2008 09:46 am

    Great pictures of the white cat I would love to sculpt that pic in clay it is so nice am all ways looking for shapes like it.

  • Victor Umboh February 7, 2008 04:15 pm

    I tried this last Christmas for our family Christmas card. See my results.


  • Pugglesnprose February 7, 2008 02:37 am

    I always let my pets sniff the camera so they are more comfortable when they see me with it. And, I try to keep them a bit hungry, so they respond better to a treat on top of the lense, or in my other hand. This works real well for food motivated dogs. What doesn't work well is too many distractions and excessive name calling-- that just makes the pet recoil.

  • Mike H February 7, 2008 12:39 am

    Excellent tips - thanks very much

  • Utah Wedding Photographer February 6, 2008 04:28 pm

    How do you make your dog not lick the lens? LOL.

  • Photothusiast February 6, 2008 11:36 am

    Mark, you don't need 4 thousand dollar equipment for nice pictures. I have a 300$ camera that takes great pictures. You won't be able to do everything a 4-grand setup does but you should be able to capture your pet's personality if you're patient and make sure you have enough lighting. (I plan on purchasing some tripod worklights for about 20$, I've been using 2 lamps with 100W bulbs)

  • Michael February 6, 2008 11:29 am

    Great tips thanks.

  • Christine February 6, 2008 11:19 am

    I forgot to mention, all I use is a point and shoot for all my digital shots.

  • Christine February 6, 2008 11:16 am

    Also, it is best to know your pet's reaction to having their picture taken. I have two cats and one, Casey does not like having her picture taken and will run when I try. I have taken a lot of good pictures of her, but I have to use stealth and cunning. You will not see many pictures of her at eye level, as I kneel, she bolts. I use a lot of zoom to get the close ups I have gotten. Now, Whitey, is my model. I can do flip flops and hippity hop around her and get quite a lot of good photographs.

    If you want to see what I mean please go to my flicr site:

    You will see the traits I am talking about in those two cats in the photo stream.

  • Chelly February 6, 2008 10:57 am

    A good idea for pure black or that cocoa brown that looks black is to use the black and white setting. If they have super shiny fur the fur will shine in the lighter areas and give the dimension and at the same time your pet wont be a black blob with eyes and on occasion a mouth.

    oh... and some pets DO pose... its just rare.

  • Patrick February 6, 2008 08:55 am

    Shooting in RAW is a good idea as mentioned above. I have 2 white dogs so I usually shoot in manual mode and over expose by 2/3 of a stop. The meter always wants to make everything 80% gray so you need to over expose to get their fur white. You could also just properly expose (according to the meter) but just dial in a 2/3 stop exposure compensation.

  • Mark February 6, 2008 03:07 am

    Thanks Coco! That was a helpful reply. And it would also be helpful when I can afford a nicer camera. For now I'll settle for nice pics only when my friend comes over with his four grands' worth of kit for no apparent reason. And also having crappy pictures of my pets really give it a nice, home-y amateurish feel. (Self consolation is really no consolation at all, is it?)

  • Coco February 6, 2008 02:58 am

    To Mark:

    I used to have guinea pigs too! Loud noises and my camera flash used to really tick them off. When it gets warm enough out, you might try taking them (or the rabbit) into the backyard (one at a time, to keep track of them). Natural light out there, and mine used to settle right down eating grass. Be really careful if you're in an area where there are flying predators though.

    For the little gerbil, try one of those clear running balls? I had some fun ones of my hamster in one of those. Any maybe when your bird is flying around? Does his cage sit in a window to light him nicely? You can also get really close to the cages for these animals, and a lot of times the bars might blur out or not be in the picture at all. Tricky stuff, good luck!

  • Mark February 6, 2008 02:51 am

    Yes but what if you had a £150 digicam from Sony?

  • Lloyd February 5, 2008 10:38 pm

    Pizza-Boy makes a good point about taking the pictures in RAW, particularly if you have a solid-colour animal. My all black dog is very difficult to get a good exposure of, but at least with a RAW photo I can usually recover the detail of his fur in the post production.


  • Its just a phase February 5, 2008 10:11 pm

    Man, i was trying to take pictures of cats just this weekend and they didn't work out at all! I could seriously have done with this article then. Not fair!

  • Cel Tungol February 5, 2008 09:53 pm

    Very helpful! Nice topic... makes me want to take pet photography this time.

  • Pizza-Boy February 5, 2008 07:41 pm

    Another tip is to take pictures in RAW, if possible. The fur is often very hard to meter.

  • Rami Fayoumi February 5, 2008 06:48 am

    Great tips! Quite helpful especially for newbies, and the photos are good examples of what we can do! Makes you want to go grab the camera and start shooting those cute creatures ;)
    Thank u!

  • Delilah Hinman February 5, 2008 04:07 am

    Some great tips here; thanks for sharing! I'll definitely have to keep these in mind the next time I'm shooting my poochies.

  • Pete Langlois February 5, 2008 03:39 am

    Great tips

  • Mark February 5, 2008 03:27 am

    The tips presented here are all great but the shots don't look like they came from any common ol' digicam. In fact, i have several friends who looked at the ones here and said that there is no way that *I* can achieve that. I have many pets and most of them are rather twitchy, not that I frighten them, just that it's their nature. And surprising them would cause them more fright and running away. What can you suggest that hasnt already been said here? I have guinea pigs, a parrot, a gerbil, a rabbit, and a dog (who loves the camera so i dont have much problems with him) and I use a 8.1mp sony dsc-w100.

  • jp February 5, 2008 03:03 am

    Great tips - and apply just as well to small children!

  • Huntting February 5, 2008 02:32 am

    Play with your pet. Let them play with the camera...sniff it, put there nose in it...let them get comfortable. If you can have someone else play with them, you'll also get great poses and natural shots.

  • Syahid A. February 5, 2008 02:27 am

    Some of the images above are very suitable for the "icanhascheezburger" site. :D