Pet Photography Tips and Tricks

Dog on grass with sun in the background.
Model: Nix. Photo: Raw Seed Photography


How many of you have tried, like me, to capture that perfect Instagrammable photo of your pet only to end up with a fur-blur? Is your camera roll full of photos of your fur baby, but they don’t quite make it to ‘print it and frame it’? We bring you some hot tips from two talented pet photographers to help you with your Pupparazzi goals to capture your pet in all their glory!

Ali from Raw Seed Photography, Brisbane

1. Get the animals attention

First step - get the animals attention. Sounds basic but I see so many people not even trying to get their pets attention and then ending the photo session with no good photos at all. Be crazy, bark at them, make duck noises, ask if they want to go for a walk so anything to get their attention. Sometimes a squeaky toy is enough or they could focus on a treat but my number 1 tip is to get them focused.

2. Make sure you can see eyes

Eyes are the window to the soul. By capturing the eye, you capture a story, how that story is told depends on who is viewing the photo but that’s the beauty of photography. If they don't have eyes? That's ok too, that in itself is a story. You can also focus on their nose. 💕

Portrait of two adult and one puppy dog  with a bow tie on grass.
Models: Archie, Theo and Nix. Photo: Raw Seed Photography

3. Watch the lighting

I tend to avoid shooting in the middle of the day, personally. I find the shadows and highlights much too harsh. When photographing with natural light like the sun, keep in mind where it is located. As a general rule I always try to keep the sun behind my subject to have them in the best focus possible with minimal shadows.

4. Get down to their level

This in my opinion is what makes an image whether it's a dog bounding towards you or sitting in a cute pose I always make sure to get down to the dogs level. In the instance of this photo of Macie, I was laying on unused train tracks - on rocks, just to make sure I captured this shot.

Golden Retriever on train tracks running towards the camera.
Model: Macie. Photo: Raw Seed Photography

5. Pay the model

No one likes to work for free! Why should your model. Make photo shoots a fun experience! Pay up with their favourite treat, game or simply lots and lots of praise.

See more of Ali's work on Instagram or her website and do yourself a favour and follow her dogs Nix the Aussie and Princess the gsd too.

Ryan from Ryan Jones Photography, Sydney

Fast Fast Fast

When you’re capturing something that's moving fast, speed is priority over anything else, use fast shutter speeds to freeze action rather than having blurry photos, if this means your photos are going to be too dark, crank up your ISO or try and open your aperture more if you have a lens that supports it.

Put your camera into “burst” mode so you can hold down that shutter button and get all of the before, during, and after moments of something happening rather than having to time that one perfect shot.

Fast memory cards mean that as you’re firing off all of these photos, your memory card is fast enough to handle it all. This is one of the most frustrating things I see all beginners get frustrated with when they’re trying to burst off a bunch of photos all at once and the camera slows down or completely stops while forcing you to have to wait for the photos to be written to the card. No more cheapo cards, get fast ones that are designed for video (which throws 24 frames a second at your card). Most of our still cameras can take up to 10 frames a second.

Two portraits of a black labrador. Half portrait of a dog with a donut in front of a beige background on the left. Full portrait of the same dog on a tree stump on the right.
Model: Cali. Photos: Ryan Jones Photography

Autofocus MODE

Most people who start out know that a lens can focus automatically or manually, but not many beginners know there are different types of autofocus. When you push your shutter button (the button you press to take the photo) it will auto focus on where you’ve positioned your autofocus point and usually makes a beep sound.  The problem with this is that if you’ve focused on a subject and they have since moved toward or away from you (or even if you’ve moved) your subject is now out of focus. This is where “Autofocus Continuous (AF-C) or AI Servo modes of autofocus are handy. For as long as you hold down your finger on your shutter button, your camera will continually focus on your subject (really handy for when a doggo is running at you). Mix this in with the burst mode mentioned above and a fast card, you’re now continually focusing on something as it approaches you while bursting off multiple shots, giving you the ability to review and pick a favourite shot later.

Patience

This is a no brainer, if you want to take a photo of an animal, make sure you’ve set aside some time to do so. All the treats and toys in the world can still not make any difference to a doggo who’s distracted or stressed from the weather or other factors.

Long Lenses

This isn't a rule necessarily to follow but more of a hack if the whole patience thing isn't working for you. Let your doggo rest, just chill out, let them do their doggo thing. Give them a treat, a bone, their favourite toy, anything to distract them and give you the ability to stand back a little bit and zoom in with a longer lens so that you’re not all up in their face getting them distracted and excited.

Close up of a dog leaning his head out of the window of a driving car.
Model: Cali. Photo: Ryan Jones Photography

Angles

When we take a portrait of a human, we are at their level. When we take a landscape photo, we are at the horizon level. Try to follow this guide and get down on the same level as your doggo (yeah hands and knees or laying on your stomach).

Seeing their world from their point of view makes all the difference, taking a photo looking down or up at a doggo can work at times, but if you can get down on their level it feels like we are hanging out with them in their element. Next time you see a gorgeous photo of a dog, have a think about the angle and take note of it.

Editing

Don’t be afraid of editing, it really isn't that hard to slightly boost the saturation of colours and up the contrast and exposure making your photos pop that little bit more. There are heaps of editing apps both free and paid for on both Mac, PC and even mobile devices that are fine for editing pet photography as a beginner.

Follow Ryan or his dog Cali on Instagram or have a look at Ryan's portfolio on www.ryanjonesphotography.com.

Pet Food Finder

Find the best Big Dog product for your pet

Launch Product Finder