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Tips for Taking Pictures of Your Pet

How to take good pet pictures, photographs and portraits. A list of things a photographer should do and should not do. Photography tips for taking pictures of pets. Learn how to prepare your pet for having its picture taken and how to frame the pet within the picture. Information on taking cute pictures of pets. Photography guide for beginners.

You do not have to be a photography expert or have a great camera to take a good picture of your pet.  Here are some simple tips to help you take a few good pictures of your pet.

When you have good pictures of your pet you will want to show them off, additionally they can be helpful if your pet happens to get lost.

Prepare the Pet

This can be anything from bathing, to a trip to the groomer, or simply brushing the pet yourself.  For a dog, you may want to add a bandana. 

Prepare the Set

Have good lighting, either a sunny day, or well lit room.

Where are you going to be taking the picture? You will want the sun to your back so the animal is in the light (if you are outside) but do not want your shadow to be cast on the animal. Look through the camera before you start, remove all distractions from the background. Indoors there is bound to be more clutter, which should be cleaned up. Outdoors you may want to check to remove garden tools, or perhaps may want to put a potted plant into the picture area. 

Be sure the background contrasts in color to your pet, note the puppy in the picture below.  You can hardly see it against the snow.  A dark fence would have been a better background.

Get Down

Unless photographing a large animal such as a horse, you will want to get down to the pets level. If you stand above the animal you get an awkward looking picture with their head appearing much larger in proportion to the rest of their body.

puppy

photo source - young animals are hard to photograph because they do not stay still for long, this would have been a better picture if the photographer was not standing over the pup.  (compare to cat's picture below)

Angle your Pet

Generally speaking having the animal stand at an angle is better than if they stand facing you, again this is for the purposes of proportion. In the horse industry horses are often angled to make one feature look larger, Quarter Horses are often posed at a ¾ angle to make their rumps look strong and muscular. A profile shot is always considered classic, but with the head facing you slightly. This is where having a helper may prove of value as they can try to get the pet to look at them.

donkey

photo by myself, you note how distorted she looks at this angle.  The sheep are somewhat distracting in the background and her one ear is almost off picture. 

Capture their Character

For your own sake you may want to capture the character of your pet. A dog who has a favorite toy should have that toy in their picture. A lazy cat should be photographed at rest. Take still shots and action shots.

One Important Picture

Although you are primarily taking pictures for your own reasons there is one other reason why it is important to take your pets picture – this is in the event they go missing or are stolen. Even if your pet has a microchip, these can fail. A photograph can be left at a shelter when your pet goes missing and will help them identify it when it comes in. The photo can be used in Lost and Found posters or newspaper ads. Make sure you can see any unusual markings on your pet, and its eye color (in cats). Two identification pictures, one directly of the face, and one of the body and legs, will prove valuable if your pet goes missing.

Review your Pictures

Not all pictures will be good, that's okay. Take the best ones and crop them, eliminating all unnecessary background. The pet should be centered or just off center, leave more space in front of them if they are looking off to one side. In entire body shots, never crop so you chop of limbs, tail, or ears. Never crop so a part of the pet tickles the edges. That means either the whole pet is within the photo space, or cropped clearly to show you intended to do so (as a head and shoulders picture).

Related Links

How to Draw a Pet Portrait

How to Take Better Pictures of your Horse

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Comments (4)

Good tips, thanks!

Great advice. Now I do hope my cats will read this article as well ;)

Some very good advice! Great read!

You gave me an idea. This pet pictures should form the most part of your Redgage account. Great tips.

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