Pet Photography: how to shoot great photos of your pets

Getting your camera down to your pet's point of view can lead to some much more interesting photographs. (Copyright 2013 / Andrew Boyd)

Getting your camera down to your pet’s point of view can lead to some much more interesting photographs. (Copyright 2013 / Andrew Boyd)

Pet photography: I can hear the groans from here! These constant companions that we feed, water and care for can be sources of great joy AND at times near-constant irritation–much like the rest of the loved ones in our lives! But how many really great photographs have you taken of your dog, your cat, your goldfish? For someone that ‘s around as much as they are, you’d think we would have better photos of them! Here are my tips for better images of your pets, whether they be mammal, reptile, or whatever…

1. See the world through your pet’s eyes.

Ever notice how boring most people’s pet photographs are? This is because, like watching sports on TV from that main overhead angle, your POV (point of view) is usually from ‘on-high’ looking ‘down-low’, and it’s just not very interesting. Try getting down on your knees, belly or whatever it takes, to see things from your pet’s eye level. Right away, you’ll find your pet photography begin to improve.

2. Display your pet’s personality.

What's not to love with a face like that? (Copyright 2013 / Andrew Boyd)

What’s not to love with a face like that? (Copyright 2013 / Andrew Boyd)

Is your dog insanely happy most of the time? Got a great big sloppy smile? Talk to you a lot? Try to shoot pictures that illustrate these personality traits. Keep in mind what you love about your pet and try to shoot that. The heart of most great photography is getting at the essence of the thing, and this is our most essential job here.

3. Be mindful of composition.

Experimenting with composition can lead to some great new images of your companion. (Copyright 2013 / Andrew Boyd)

Experimenting with composition can lead to some great new images of your companion. (Copyright 2013 / Andrew Boyd)

Don’t hesitate to try new things compositionally: different crops or details, different angles or vantage points. Experiment! See what works, try some things that ultimately don’t. Mess around!

4. Timing is everything.

Chocolate Lab Roux delights in the residual waters from tropical storm Lee, as the weather starts to move out of the area, Monday September 5, 2011. 1/640th sec @ f2.8, ISO 800. (Copyright 2013 / Ted Jackson)

Chocolate Lab Roux delights in the residual waters from tropical storm Lee, as the weather starts to move out of the area, Monday September 5, 2011. 1/640th sec @ f2.8, ISO 800. (Copyright 2013 / Ted Jackson)

Now here’s the really hard part: the minute you get down low and begin to shoot, your dog comes running right up close, ruining the photo! You’ve got to work fast to get that shot! You may decide that great stealth is required, sneaking up on your pet when they least expect it. So keep the camera out and handy. Be prepared!

5. Be patient. Good pet photography takes time.

Three really good-looking buddies. (Copyright 2013 / Andrew Boyd)

Three really good-looking buddies. (Copyright 2013 / Andrew Boyd)

Patience is one of the keys to this, our great Pet Photography Project. You’ll find that the truly great images are hard to come by. You’ll have to go back again and again as you pursue this. But hey, what photo project worth doing doesn’t share these issues?

Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Or subscribe to our Facebook page ,Google+ pageor our Twitter feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog

Posted in: How To

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

Post a Comment