5 Simple Tips for Pet Photography

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Pet owners often love taking photos of their furry friends just as much as anything else. I currently own a cat and a dog and I enjoy capturing both of them with my camera. My cat is very nervous and is not often in many pictures but my Beagle is outgoing (that’s an understatement), and I have taken a ton of photos of her in the time – almost two years – that we’ve had her.

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Here are 5 simple tips for pet photography.

1. Get down low. One of the first things people will tell you when photographing kids is to get down low on their level so that your photos are more engaging, rather than towering over them. This same tip works for your pets too. Unless you have a really tall pet like a Great Dane or a horse, you’re going to want to get lower to the ground for at least some of your shots. It will allow you to really fill the frame with more of what you really want to see – your pet! It’s also a good way to capture your fuzzy buddy’s personality and character.

2. Create “action shots”. How do you set up fun action shots with animals? Well, food treats often help! This is particularly true with my Beagle who would probably kill her own mother for a piece of bacon. If you hold a treat in one hand while holding your camera in the other you can get some really great action shots like jumping, or even reactions. In this photo I was holding an almost-empty jar of peanut butter just out of the frame and as you can see, it brought a lot of life to the shot.

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3. Focus on bits and pieces. Of course everyone loves an adorable puppy face or a kitten nonchalantly drinking water, but sometimes it can be fun to pick a detail and close in on it. My dog is hyperactive so it’s not always easy but by waiting for her to take a little nap, I managed to close in on one of her body parts that I love – her cute little paws. It’s still one of my favorite pictures I’ve taken of her.

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4. Tire your pet out. My dog has more energy than a room full of toddlers so it can be difficult to get a good picture of her because she doesn’t sit still for long. Wearing her out is the best way to get a relaxed shot of her. If you have a dog, go for a nice long walk before you break out your camera so that he or she can release all that pent-up energy. A cat? Get out the toys and yarn and play for a bit before you set up a kitty photo shoot. Even a hamster or rat can be tired out with a little free play time. Once your pet is all played out you’ll be able to get a calm photo.

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5. Don’t forget about the eyes. There are two factors here. One, natural light will always be your best bet. A flash will really set off massive red eye or reflections, so it’s not to be advised. On the other hand, sometimes that can provide some hilarity, such as this shot…

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… but generally that’s not what you’ll be going for! Two, just as you would in a human portrait, try to focus nice and sharp on the eyes. It’s not always easy with an animal, but it’s worth putting in the effort.

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Do you have a favorite photo of your pet? Share it!

All photos: Sherry Osborne

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  • http://twitter.com/amandairene48 Amanda Kluesner

    I love taking photos of any pet! Thanks for posting this :D

  • http://trailblazer393.vox.com Andrea Bearden-Kuhns

    How do I upload a photo here?

  • http://rbmartiniv.smugmug.com Robert M.

    With cats, it's all about the eyes. There is just something about a cat's eyes. Not evil, just mysterious.

  • http://www.sabrinako.com/blog Sabrina

    Great tips! Thank you! I absolutely love taking pictures of my pets, especially in their natural settings. Here's my favorite picture of Bianca: http://www.sabrinako.com/blog/2010/02/22/snowy-

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-Perez/541662303 Charles Perez

    This is one of my favorites, and it happens to be “right out of the camera.” I haven't had time to do anything to it yet…
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/59336912@N00/46321

  • http://www.jcdaydream.com James Cole

    As a landscape photographer, I've always struggled with the critter shots (especially of the human kind). I'll have to try all of these techniques. I think the next few days could see my dog running away for some peace and quiet.
    By the way, some cute pictures you've put with the article.

  • http://www.alopex.se Lars Dahlin

    Sweet post. Thanks for the tips.

    Here's one from my photostream, my dog Alopex: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alopex/4678462/in/