Articles Main Page  
    How to Take a Great Pet Photograph  

Follow some simple guidelines to get a great photograph of your pet. These ideas work even if a family member is also in the photo.

  • Keep the background simple. Eliminate clutter or a detailed background — it distracts from the pet. The colors of the background should contrast with the color of the pet. (Shoot dark pets against lighter backgrounds and light pets against dark backgrounds.)
  • Get your pet’s attention for a great expression — make a noise, use a phrase the pet understands (Want to go for a ride?), toss or squeak a toy. Cats will often watch a swinging object in midair. Be careful to keep these accessories out of the line of the camera lens.
  • Enlist help — get someone else to toss toys, whistle and help position the pet. It can be hard to hold the camera and keep the pet in place at the same time! Sometimes pets can be restless and jump at the sound of a shutter click, so adjust your camera accordingly by increasing your shutter speed to freeze the subject. Use a high-speed film such as ISO 400 or 800 if you are going to be photographing indoors with minimal available light.
  • Shoot photos outdoors. Natural lighting is always best. Filtered sunlight can provide a more natural looking photograph than a shot in bright daylight. Do not face the camera into the sun (avoid sun glare).
  • Black or white pets are the hardest to photograph — back and side lighting can help add dimension and highlight eyes and hair. With black animals especially, it is important to give them lots of light from all sides to bring out their features and detail. Exposure should be a little generous because fur texture is important.
  • For smaller pets such as reptiles or pocket pets that you may not want to take outside, try using natural light from a window. Fluorescent lighting and the use of a flash can distort the colors in your photo.
  • Get down to their level — position the camera at their height rather than shooting down from your standing position.

back to Articles main