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Five Tips for Creative Pet Photography

How do you capture beautiful and unique photographs of your pets? While social media is littered with average snapshots of dogs and cats, it is possible to take your pet photography to the next level. In fact, it’s very simple.

pet photography creative black dog profile

Creative Pet Photography

In this tutorial, you’ll learn five ways to create incredible, unique photographs of your pets. These tips will allow you to capture unforgettable images of your beloved cat or dog, while at the same time preserving priceless memories.

husky dog - Creative Pet Photography

Tip #1: Get down to your pet’s level

When doing pet photography, it’s important that your camera is eye-level with your pet.

All too often, pet photographers shoot from an upright position, looking down. While this can sometimes work (we’ll discuss one example in Tip #3 below), it generally results in an unflattering pet portrait. This is because the ground makes for an unpleasant background.

Instead, crouch, kneel or lie down in front of your pet.

dog - Creative Pet Photography

I got down on my knees to photograph this dog (named Cookie Monster).

Notice the way the background changes from hard ground to a softer bokeh. You might even get a beautiful image of your pet’s head lying in the grass.

This is exactly what you want. It will make people stop and look twice. It will make your pet pop off the page.

So, when photographing your pet, get down low.

husky dog Creative Pet Photography

I photographed this husky mix, Penny, from a low angle.

Tip #2: Use a wide-angle lens

You can capture beautiful images of your pet no matter your equipment. However, it’s pretty standard to use a portrait lens, somewhere in the 50-85mm range, to photograph pets.

If you want a unique image, switch it up and pull out your wide-angle lens.

wide-angle Creative Pet Photography

With such a lens, the opportunities are endless. You can take an environmental portrait, one that shows off your pet in a stunning environment.

Or you can show your pet from a more intimate perspective by getting in close.

Regardless, you won’t go wrong using a wide-angle lens. You’ll capture beautiful pet portraits that will make your friends jealous.

Tip #3: Use the cute pose

The cute pose is my name for the pose that dogs often show. You know the one: in a sitting position, big eyes, looking up. The sort of pose that makes your heart melt.

cute pose - Creative Pet Photography

Lincoln exhibiting the cute pose.

How do you actually capture the cute pose?

I like to hold a treat just above my camera and tell my dog to sit. That way, he strikes the pose without any other prompting. His head points up to follow the treat. His eyes plead.

If you want a special image of your pet, the cute pose is an excellent way to go.

cute dog Creative Pet Photography

Tip #4: Get close

Do you want intimate pet portraits? I know I do.

One of my favorite ways to do this is to get close.

dog eye - Creative Pet Photography

I focused on the eye of this beautiful dog.

Many pet photographers often aim to capture the whole of their pet. But for a different image, try zooming in, getting close. Focus on a small part of your pet: their head, eyes, nose, or teeth.

The resulting image will be both intimate and unique. You’ll capture the details of your beautiful pet. And you’ll make more artistic, aesthetically pleasing images.

dog nose - Creative Pet Photography

I wanted to focus on the colorful fur of this dog, Hamilton.

To create intimacy in your pet photography, get close.

Tip #5: Capture the tongue

My final tip for unique pet photography is one of my favorites: capture your pet’s tongue in action.

People often strive to create static, formal images of their pets. These are nice, but sometimes you want to loosen up a little. You want to portray not just the physical features of your pet, but their personality.

That’s where the tongue comes in.

dog tongue - Creative Pet Photography

This involves a lot of waiting and watching. Some pets do more with their tongue than others. I like to wait for my dog to yawn. When his mouth is open, tongue lolling out, that’s when I press the shutter.

If you can capture your dog or cat with their tongue out, I guarantee you’ll love the resulting image. First of all, you’ll feel a connection to your pet, one that a formal portrait doesn’t really provide.

Second, viewers will feel a connection to your pet. They’ll start to understand his or her quirks better. They’ll start to appreciate your pet the way that you do.

licking tongue - Creative Pet Photography

To sum up: To capture unique images of your pets, make sure you photograph their tongue.


With so many photographs of pets in the world, it may seem impossible to distinguish yourself from the pack. It may feel like you’re getting the same photographs over and over again. Like you’re capturing photographs that aren’t intimate, photographs that don’t really give a window into the life of your pet.

However, if you follow the five tips above, your images will look beautiful, and they’ll also be more unique.

dog panting Creative Pet Photography

Capturing these unique pet portraits is simple.

  1. Start by getting low.
  2. Then whip out that wide-angle lens.
  3. Next, experiment with the cute pose.
  4. Fourth, get close. Really, really close.
  5. Finally, capture your pet’s personality by showing their tongue.

Once you get more experienced, you can mix and match different tips. You might photograph your dog in the cute pose with her tongue out. You might get low while using a wide-angle lens.

The possibilities for unique and stunning pet portraits are endless. So just get out there with your best friend, and start shooting. Do you have any other tips for unique pet portraits? Please share them in the comments below.

dog with blue collar - Creative Pet Photography

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Jaymes Dempsey
Jaymes Dempsey

is the Managing Editor of Digital Photography School, as well as a macro and nature photographer from Ann Arbor, Michigan. To learn how to take stunning nature photos, check out his free eBook, Mastering Nature Photography: 7 Secrets For Incredible Nature Photos! And to see more of Jaymes’s work check out his website and his blog.

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