We all want to show the world our amazing furry (or scaled, or feathered, or spiny) friends. Flattering, well-lit photos of your pet can easily be shared on social media or with friends and family to help brighten their day, and you can snap them with a little practice. Here we’ll go over some tips for photographing whatever kind of pet you might have—everything from scheduling the shoot to what kind of lights to use.
Get Ready for Your Shoot
As you prepare for your shoot, know that photographing animals is a challenge. Don’t be discouraged if your shots don’t look like National Geographic right out of the gate.
Pets can’t take direction like humans do (unless they’ve been professionally trained), so keep your voice and demeanor calm and friendly. Bring along plenty of treats to use as a reward, and be sure to pay your model with head pats, back scratches, and belly rubs. Hold a favorite toy or treat to the side of the camera as you shoot to keep them focused in your direction long enough to get a good picture. If you can, bring a friend to help with pet wrangling so you can concentrate on the shot.
When it comes to the location of the shoot, start with a place that’s familiar to your pet so they can relax, like their favorite park, your backyard, or a well-lit room in your house.
Natural or Constant Light Is Best
This photo was lit with a mix of light from a large window and a lamp next to her, just out of frame.
(Photo: John Bogna)
Using flash or bright studio strobes can startle an animal, so avoid them when photographing your pets. Instead, go for natural light by shooting outdoor portraits. For example, you could take your dog to the local park and photograph them under a shady tree, or as they’re playing.
If you want to shoot inside against a backdrop, find an area with a large window that lets in plenty of light. Bonus points if you have a white floor or walls in the room that can bounce and diffuse the light for a softer look. If you do use studio lights, make sure they’re constant lights with a diffuser—the larger the better.
Shooting on an overcast day outside will also provide even light because the clouds will naturally scatter and soften …….