Pet Photography: Taking Great Photos Of Furry Friends

The internet can be kind of a contentious place these days. But if there is anything that brings us all together, it’s our love of pet photos.

Our love for furry (and feathered and scaly) friends is one thing that we can all seem to agree on. And if you’re like most pet owners, your camera roll is packed with pet pictures.

But pet photography presents its own set of challenges — mainly because you’re dealing with another living being who may or may not decide to cooperate at any given moment. For every sharp, clear, gorgeous photo we get, there are at least a few hundred blurry ones behind it.

Those cute creatures are members of our families, and we don’t want to exclude them from the moments displayed on our walls just because they might not cooperate with the camera.

Here are easy photography tips: 

1. Enlist A Helper

First and foremost, if you’re planning to do some serious pet photography on your own, it’s a good idea to have a helper present — someone your pet knows and trusts. This person can help you distract your pet so you can get the shots you’re looking for. Additionally, they can also keep Fluffy well fed with a constant supply of treats (provided he’s cooperating, that is).

2. Avoid The Flash

In addition to being a bit scary for some pets, the flash can cause “green eye” in some animals, such as cats and dogs. Similar to red-eye in humans, the almost ghost-like effect on your pets’ eyes comes from a reflective layer behind their retina called the tapetum lucidum. It’s this layer that helps your cat or dog see so well in the dark, but that keeps you from taking gorgeous photos.

The best way to avoid the green-eye effect in your pet photography is to simply not use a flash. Using natural light will help eliminate this issue because there’s no light directly reflected in the animal’s eyes.

3. Use The Biggest Window In Your Home

Since you’re avoiding the flash, make sure you’re looking for a big, bright light source — preferably from sunlight. Natural window light will do wonders for your photographs, even from a cell phone. Unless you’re specifically going for a silhouette effect, make sure you’re photographing your pet with the window at the side, as opposed to behind your pet. If you want to capture the texture of their fur or skin, you’ll need that light.

4. Get Down To Their Level

Professional pet photographer and owner of Candid Kitten, Josh Fenn, recommends you should get down to “pet level” to photograph your furry friends. “Once you’re near the window, be sure to get yourself and your camera down to eye-level with your pet. This will make them appear larger than life and have more of a human presence as the subject of your photo.” 

By providing a different physical perspective in your pet pictures, you can evoke a different emotion. The top-down angle is considered to be most flattering for humans — it slims us out and makes us stand taller. That’s why it’s so popular for those bathroom selfies. But for pets, this isn’t the case.

5. Increase Your Shutter Speed For Sharper Pet Pictures

Fenn typically uses a telephoto lens when taking pictures of pets (either his own or others). This adds to the “larger than life” effect. While you may not have a telephoto lens — or you’re simply using your smartphone — he has another hot tip for taking sharp pictures of your pet: increase your shutter speed.

“The camera settings for pet photography are very similar to sports photography. You typically need a very fast shutter speed (1/500 seconds) to truly capture the action while maintaining a sharp image.”

6. Let Cats Lead

If you own cats, you know they’re not interested in doing anything you want them to do. Because cats think they run the household, letting them take the lead is the path of least resistance, and it will likely lead to some great shots. 

7. Take A Lot Of Photos

Taking good pictures of animals is largely about taking a lot of photos. The more photos you take, the more likely you are to get a good one. If you’re using a smartphone, take advantage of burst mode. Again, you might end up only liking a couple of the photos, but you may not have been able to capture them without this feature.

Custom Pet Photo Gifts

Once you’ve taken great pictures of your pets (or someone else’s), you may want to get some printed out. We print a ton of dog photos around here, and we love seeing all those cute, furry faces come off the line.

Pet photos make great holiday, birthday, or everyday “I’m thinking of you” gifts.