Top Tips for Perfect Pet Portraits

Aim For Natural Light in your Pet Portraits

When you are trying to capture that perfect pet portrait of your beloved cat or dog you want to try and use natural light; a flash can scare the animal and cause unwanted red-eye. If you have studio lights then it is worth experimenting, but you may have more luck going outside, using a room full of natural light or shooting by a nice big window.

cat bed kitten portrait photography white fur
cat bed kitten portrait photography white fur

Get Close or Step Back

You want to carefully consider your composition when capturing your pet’s photo.

Either whack the macro on and get up close and personal to capture every detail, or take a step back and encapsulate their personality in whatever scene describes them best.

colourful chameleon eye close up red blue green yellow rainbow

Pay Attention To The Pet’s Eyes 

Like any type of portrait photography the key to an engaging and powerful image is the eyes, it is no different with pet photography.

The eyes are one of the best ways to capture emotion, for a pet portrait it’s often also the way they express themselves.

Getting the eyes nice and sharp is really key to getting that perfect pet portrait.

happy bulldog french dog tongue white black pink smile portrait pet

Choose Your Angle Wisely

One of the most important things to remember when photographing your pet is that everyone has seen a dog from above looking down, so unless you are going to take it to the extreme, you want to get down to their level. If this means getting on your belly then so be it, one must suffer for their art on occasion. But this way you will have a better connection with your pet – so remember, get down to their level and see the world through their eyes.

chicks three birds chickens blue sky looking down low angle fence animal pet
cows field grass brown cow animal cattle blue sky low angle camera floor ground

Be Patient

For those with a pet (or even a child) they will understand how hard it can be to get them to stay still and pose perfectly for the camera, but be patient, play with them and make it fun.

Wait for the opportune moment to capture them, where the light is right and the shot works.

Don’t rush, just try and enjoy taking that wonderful pet portrait.

old english sheepdog dog pet animal floor back laughing happy tickling fun portrait

Maybe Get A Helping Hand?

One way to get a striking pet portrait of your furry friend sat nice and still is to have a helping hand from someone else.

Ask them to call the pets name, make a noise to distract them or entice them to look in a particular direction.

Any dog owner will be able to tell you, if there is a treat around, a dog will sit very patiently and stare at you until you hand it over.

Use this sort of behaviour to your advantage!

horse dog friends pet friendship odd pairing field sunset glow pet portrait

Include People in Your Pet Portrait

All pets are a big part of the family, so why not include (or introduce) the rest of the family within the shot. Alternatively, maybe just focus on the pet’s favourite family member!

Add A Bit Of Context

dog escape nose under gate fence sad despondent waiting pet portrait

Choose your location wisely. Even if you plan to do a close up shot you still need to think about the environment in which you are capturing the perfect pet portrait. You want the pet to feel natural and comfortable in the chosen surroundings.

You also want the location to bring out their character – as this will be reflected within the shot. Maybe you have a rabbit that just loves eating your flowers? If so, try capturing them in amongst the tastiest flowers you have. Your imagery will be far more interesting and effective if you add context and create a story within it.

Capture their Personality

Anyone with a pet will know that it is like having another member of the family; every pet has their own personality – be it a bit lazy or super energetic. You want to try and capture this when taking their photo; this will help others connect with the image. If your dog is often sleepy, try and get a portrait of them in their favourite spot.

If you have a cat that likes to chase a toy around, why not freeze the action for your image?

Look Out For The Perfect Pet Portrait

Sometimes the best photos of your pets will come when you least expect it – perhaps when they decide to fall asleep in what appears to be the most uncomfortable of positions, or when they see their own shadow and begin to chase it. Keep your camera at hand and keep an eye out for those spontaneous moments that make your pet the highlight of your day!

cool dog paw on camera sunglasses trendy dress up camera vintage retro diana f+ lomography pet portrait
mouse white background furry creature small animal pet portrait
dog asleep bulldog lazy floor white background snoring tired pet portrait
dog daschund daxon reading glasses study books desk working funny costume pet portrait
cat waiting watching fish in bowl water red blue fish tropical isolated white background tabby pet portrait
husky playing lying down white background eating young puppy teeth big ears pet portrait
gold fish concept 3 fish bowls size water 2 goldfish jumping leaping escaping funny orange yellow pet portrait

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The other challenge when shooting through glass is the tinting. Unfortunately, architects and designers didn’t think about us photographers when creating these skyscrapers.

Their windows are invariably tinted in some way to help with heating.

This means that some of your photos may have a green/grey tint to them.

It’s not the biggest issue as you can rebalance this tint in editing with the ‘tint’ slider for example.