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How To Take Better Pet Photographs

Rambo, our office cat, is well known for being a bit of a grouch.  So when he starts to do something cute or funny, invariably we all reach for our phones to take his picture.  Rambo is camera shy though, so we usually end up with pictures of him scratching his ear, crossing his eyes, baring his fangs or showing us his rear end as he leaves the room.

It seems like a lot of work for the occasional good photograph.

It turns out trying to get in Rambo’s face with a camera isn’t the best way to go about it.  If you’re looking to improve your pet pictures, here are 9 points to consider.

Remember Your Pet’s Personality: Everyone has that generic picture of the dog sitting on the couch. Instead, try to photograph your pet doing what makes him or her special. In Rambo’s case, he has lightening quick reflexes and the instinct of a hunter. We have a great photo of him stalking a moth that got into the hospital.

Consider Your Location and Background: Sometimes plain backgrounds, such as a white sheet or a green lawn, will make your pet stand out the most. If you’re shooting indoors, straighten up first. Nothing will ruin a shot more than a pile of laundry in the background. Also, resist the urge to stage a shot if it goes against everything your pet believes in. For example, we would never try to photograph Rambo in any situation involving him wearing clothes. Not unless we also intended to lose some blood.

Zoom In: Focus on a whisker or an ear. Filling the viewfinder with your pet’s features will give you surprising results and make your photos stand out.

Get On Their Level Or Try A Different Perspective: A picture taken at your pet’s level will show the world from his perspective. Lie on your belly on the floor to photograph your dog or catch a climbing cat from down low.

Catch Them In The Act: Rather than staging a photo session, experiment and just take pictures of your pet doing their own thing. You might get one great photo out of ten, but that photo just might also be one you treasure. Your pet’s personality will really shine through if you let them be themselves.

Don’t Forget About Lighting: Natural light is best. Flash usually creates the red eye effect, and can also startle animals. Unnatural light also tends to wash out pets that are all one color.

Pick The Right Time Of Day: Choose a time when your pet is agreeable, fed and rested. Otherwise, you’re asking for trouble.

Don’t Forget Your Batteries: If you’re using a digital camera, make sure your batteries have enough power! There are fewer things more frustrating than setting up the perfect pose and discovering your batteries are dead.

Finally, Be Patient: Taking pictures of pets is much like taking pictures of children. It’s time consuming and difficult, but the results are worth it.

Do you have great pet pictures to share with us? Email them to and we might use them in a future post!

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