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How to Make Your Pet Look Their Best in Photos – P.L.A.Y.


By Nicole Melo on Feb 23, 2024

Our furry friends bring so much joy and personality into our lives. As a pet owner, you want to capture those special moments and your pet’s unique quirks through photography. Quality pet photos allow you to immortalize precious memories and see your beloved animals in their best light.

However, it can be tricky for amateur photographers to take professional-looking pet portraits and candid shots. Pets don’t pose on command like human subjects — cats and dogs can be unpredictable and fast-moving, making it hard to get them in focus, not to mention unique technical challenges like dealing with shedding fur and taking shots at odd angles.

Here, you’ll learn insider tips and techniques for taking top-quality photos of your pets at home. With the right approach, you can get magazine-worthy shots for your home or their own social media page that capture your pet’s personality, without hiring a professional pet photographer. 

Invest in the right equipment

Having the right camera gear makes a huge difference in getting crisp, vivid photos of your pets. But you don’t need the most expensive equipment to take professional-quality pet portraits and candids. A digital SLR or mirrorless camera with a fast shutter speed of at least 1/1000s will help freeze the action when photographing pets in motion — look for a used DSLR or mirrorless camera to get pro features at an affordable price point.

Make the most of natural light

Lighting is also important. Pets have textured fur that can cause unwanted shadows and highlights. Use natural light from a window for flattering illumination where possible, and reflectors to maximize light and bounce it back onto dark areas of your pet’s face. LED lights fill in shadows nicely as well — place lights carefully to avoid red eye reflections. 

For backdrops, you can use a sheet, blanket or poster board as an inexpensive, solid colored backdrop for impactful portraits that also serve to reflect the light. This keeps the background clutter-free and prevents your pet from blending into busy surroundings. 

Use props for fun photos

Costumes and props can add extra fun and interest to your pet photos, but should be used with care. Never force your pet into wearing something that could be unsafe or make them distressed. However, if your furry friend doesn’t mind rocking a stylish hat or a fuzzy sweater, there’s no harm in incorporating it into your pictures. 

Props are also great creative tools. Get an action shot of your dog leaping to grab a frisbee mid-air or snap a sweet photo of your kitty curled up with their favorite stuffed mouse. Just be sure to closely supervise your pet any time a prop is in use. Don’t leave them alone with something they could swallow or get tangled in. It’s also smart to put props away when the photo shoot is over to avoid continued temptation. With some patience and treats, you can use costumes and props to capture your pet’s personality. 

Learn the necessary techniques

Getting great photos of your pets requires some specialized techniques. To start, you need to get your pet’s attention and interest. Use fun noises like squeaky toys, clicks, or kissing sounds to have them look at the camera. You can also wave around props like treats or one of their favorite toys to capture your pet’s curiosity and expression. You want to elicit natural emotions, not just have your pet stare blankly at the lens.

Check your settings

When photographing pets in action, leveraging the right camera settings makes all the difference. Switch your camera to continuous shooting mode which allows you to hold down the shutter button and capture rapid burst of photos.This feature is essential when capturing pets in motion. You’ll snap dozens of shots in seconds to select the best ones later during the editing phase. Also turn on autofocus tracking which will maintain focus on your pet as they move around the frame. This helps ensure you get sharp focus in motion shots.

Follow the rule of thirds

In terms of composition, follow basic photographic rules like the rule of thirds. Frame your pet slightly off center for the most pleasing composition; get down on their eye level for compelling perspective in portraits. It can also be worthwhile using a medium telephoto lens with a wide aperture to blur distracting backgrounds. Just be sure to always focus on your pet’s eyes for impact.

Capture candid shots

While posed portraits can be great, also be sure to capture candid moments of your pet. Let them go about their day and take natural shots when they are not paying attention to the camera. These authentic moments will showcase your pet’s true personality. Be patient if your pet is initially camera shy or uncooperative, and make photo sessions brief and rewarding with treats. Over time, they will become more comfortable with the camera.

Taking beautiful photos of your furry friends may seem daunting as an amateur pet photographer. But with the right techniques and affordable equipment, you can capture professional-quality, frame-worthy shots of your cats, dogs or other pets. So, with these tips close at hand, grab your camera, get your pet’s attention and start snapping some superstar shots. In no time, you’ll have a photogenic furry friend and gorgeous photos to print and share.

Author: Dakota Murphey

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