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how to shoot the best pet picture
Pet Care

April 19, 2016

PetSafe® Expert

Audrey Pavia

How to Take the Perfect Pet Pictures

Thanks to smart phones and social media, pets get their pictures taken more today than any other time in human history.

While it's easy to take a casual snapshot of your cat or dog to post online, these tips can help you get a better shot that your friends will really notice!

Get the Best Lighting

taking puppy pictures

One of the most important things to consider when photographing your pet is the lighting. When taking pictures of your dog, working outside is easiest. The best outdoor light happens before and after the sun is directly overhead, so morning and afternoon is the best time to shoot. Using light at these times of days will enhance the color in your image and bring out the texture in your dog's fur. This is especially important if you dog has black fur, which can be hard to photograph in stark light.

If you are shooting your dog or cat indoors, try to use artificial light from lamps and light fixtures instead of a flash. Not only might a flash startle your pet, but it will also tend to wash out your cat or dog's color and cause their pupils to appear as red or white circles.

Lower Your Perspective

pet photos perspectives

While it's easiest to take your pet's photo while you are standing up, you'll get a better shot if you crouch down so you are nearly on your pet's level. Instead of the overhead helicopter shot, you'll get an image that shows your pet's face full on. This will capture his expression and give the impression that you are closer to him.

Add Contrast to the Background

pet closeup shots

If you are posing your dog or cat, put him against a background that will bring out the colors in his fur. If he's brown, a green background will help provide good contrast. A white dog or cat looks best against just about any color except white or gray.

Black dogs and cats should be shot against medium colors that are not too light because the camera will adjust to the background and underexpose your pet, making him look like a black figure without features. If you put him against a background that is too dark, he will disappear into you. Red is usually a good choice for a black pet. If you're posing him, putting him on a red pillow will really make him stand out.

Take Action!

action pet pictures

If you're taking action shots of your dog running or your cat playing, shoot as many images as you can while you pan along at the same speed. You may get blurred motion, depending on the lighting and aperture of your camera, but this can create a nice effect. Remember that the more light you have, the sharper your image will be when panning along with your pet.

If you want to photograph your dog playing with another pooch, crouch down to the dogs' level to capture the best action. Do the same if you are photographing your cat playing with a toy. Get down on your knees and bring the camera close to the floor to get an eye-level view of your pet.

Pose for Portraits

diy pet portraits

If you want to take a portrait of your pet, get your cat or dog when he's in the right mood. Pets who are obedience trained are the easiest to photograph for portraits because you can ask them to sit or lay down, and then tell them to stay as you back away to take the picture. If your dog isn't trained, wait until he's in a mellow mood and try to catch him looking pensive just before he settles down for a nap.

Cats can be harder to pose because they usually have a mind of their own, so you'll need to be more of an opportunist. Keep your camera handy at all times, and when you see your cat sitting in a sunny spot near the window, seize the moment and get your shot.

Remember than when shooting animals, you have to act quickly. The perfect photo moment can come and go in a matter of seconds. The get either your dog or cat to look alert in a portrait, elicit the help of a friend. Ask your helper to hold a treat above your head so your pet looks toward you with an eager expression as you snap the photo.

Edit Like a Pro

pet photography

Once you've got your shot, don't be afraid to edit the photo using photo editing software. Your smartphone will have different effects you can add to the image, and also allow you to lighten it, darken it and crop it. If you have photo editing computer software, such as Photoshop or Gimp, you can even have fun with your images by adding other pets to the photo, putting clothes on your pet, or just creating a fun background. Don't be afraid to get creative!

Written by

Audrey Pavia

Audrey Pavia

Dog Journalist

PetSafe® Expert

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