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8 Tips for Better Pet Photos

Updated: Apr 16, 2018

Here are some tips for taking better photos of your furry friends!

I love taking photos of my dogs! They were some of my first models! Here are some tips that I hope will help you take better photos of your furry friends.

Before I continue, I want you to know that Speedliter's Blog is an Amazon Affiliate. This means that, at no cost to you, I may earn a commission from items you purchase from Amazon using the links in this blog. This actually applies to anything you purchase within 24 hours, so if there's a different or more affordable alternative that gets you up and shooting faster, get it! Thanks for using our links and supporting Speedliter's Blog!

1. Get on their level

It's fun to try different angles with pet or person portraits. But I constantly see pet photos taken while standing looking down at the pet. If you find yourself in this habit, switch it up by getting low and taking a photo of your pet at their level. I love photos of dogs on their level because it makes them seem more like people.

SETTINGS: 1/100 sec at f/6.3, ISO 400

2. Focus on the eyes

When people look at photos, their gaze is drawn to the subject's eyes. For this reason, you should always focus on your pet's eyes so that they are sharp in the photo. To get a sharp focus, it is best to use a single focus point so you can focus it on one of the yes.

SETTINGS: 1/125 sec at f/2.8, ISO 400

3. Capture personality

When most people get ready to take a pet photo, they tell the pet to stay and they stand back and point the camera at their pet. This isn't a very natural situation. You photos will be more interesting if they portray some of your pet's personality. Do what your pet likes to do. Go where your pet likes to go. You may want to use a zoom lens so you can step back and capture their emotions. Dogs in particular look more at ease when their tongues are out. Run around with your dog a little bit to work out some energy. Then photograph them while they relax after.

SETTINGS: 1/160 sec at f/4.5, ISO 100

4. Freeze the action

Animal action photos can be very fun. Use a faster shutter speed to capture your pet running, jumping, or playing. For the photo below, I used 1/160 of a second, but faster is better if you're trying to freeze the action. Keep in mind, you don't always need to freeze the action. A photo of a dog running may look good with a little blur to give the impression of motion.

SETTINGS: 1/160 sec at f/3.5, ISO 6400

5. Keep it candid

You know your dog best. Is she happiest with her favorite toy? Is he most relaxed after running in the yard for a while? Sometimes dogs are a little up tight when you take out your camera and ask them to stay. Let them be in their element, whether running or playing or relaxing on a leather couch. If you can't get close, use a zoom lens.

SETTINGS: 1/100 sec at f/1.8, ISO 1600

6. Use Props

Props can make pet photos even more fun and interesting. You can start with a bandana or sunglasses, but the sky is the limit! However, always be aware of your pet's mood and safety. If your pet doesn't like something or it looks uncomfortable, don't do it. Pet safety and wellness is most important.

SETTINGS: 1/1250 sec at f/2.8, ISO 100

7. Experiment with flash

Get out your speedlite! You can use your flash to create great light and expiriment! In the photo below I held a 600EX-RT in each hand and held them facing my dogs while my wife took the photo. I love this shot!

SETTINGS: 1/180 sec at f 5.6, ISO 400

8. Use Treats

Last but not least, have treats on hand to reward your pet for obeying your commands and being good! Dogs particularly like peanut butter and you can often get a funny photo of them eating it too.

SETTINGS: 1/4000 sec at f/1.8, ISO 125

I hope this post inspires you to take fun photos of your pet! If you have any questions for me, feel free to ask in the comments section below.

Here are some more of my favorite dogs photos. I hope they inspire you to take more pics of your pooch!

SETTINGS: 1/80 sec at f 2.2, ISO 2000

SETTINGS: 1/60 sec at f 1.8, ISO 6400

SETTINGS: 1/100 sec at f 1.4, ISO 100

One speedlite on Joby Gorillapod facing trees and one handheld facing Remington.

SETTINGS: 1/60 sec at f 22, ISO 5000

Candid outdoor winter photo backlit by the sun.

SETTINGS: 1/500 sec at f/3.5, ISO 100

Dimming the sun with 2 600EX-RT Speedlites on the subject.

SETTINGS: 1/180 sec at f 11, ISO 100

Willow the boxer Portrait!

SETTINGS: 1/180 sec at f 4.5, ISO 400

SETTINGS: 1/100 sec at f 4.0, ISO 125


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