Pet photography is very popular these days. Pets are important and adored members of modern families. All over the world, pet owners celebrate their bonds with their dogs, cats, and birds by lovingly photographing them…and then sharing their favorite pet pics online!

While the vast majority of pet owners enjoy taking pictures of their loyal and beloved animals and birds, some pet owners don’t get the best results.

If you’re in the “mediocre or poor results” category, you should know that using our easy and effective pet photography tips will be the key to improving the quality of your shots.

These tips from the experts are designed to help you get pro-quality results which you may treasure for a lifetime.

#1. Have a Game Plan

cat relaxed photography
Most photographers find that capturing pets at home or close to home, in locations which are very familiar to animals or birds, is the most sensible strategy. These locations are places where pets are already comfortable and the comfort level of pets does tend to impact shot quality, for better or worse.

Pets may get skittish or anxious if you try to photograph them in new places. In some cases, this skittishness and anxiety may be enough to ruin photo shoots.

So, try not to take pictures too far from your pet’s typical haunts. There should be suitable backgrounds in your home or right outside.

We recommend scouting locations and then putting together a short list. If you are the owner of the pet in question, consider putting yourself in at least one of the shots. When you take shots of you and your pet, you’ll be able to celebrate your bond in a special way that lasts forever.

An amazing picture of you and your pet will also be a fun thing to share online, via your social media profiles.

Choosing four or five different backgrounds, which capture different moods, will be a great way to ensure that you have plenty of interesting and meaningful photographs. Also, think about how you want your pet to look against each background. Do you want your pet to be very active, or relaxed and pensive? Find an action or expression for each shot on the list, which works well with each background that you’ve selected.

#2. Camera Suggestions

choosing a camera for pet photos
If you are interested in capturing the action, you’ll need the right camera setup. Portraits will require a different camera setup.

For impressive action shots, we recommend the Continuous AF (auto-focus) setting. When you choose this setting, your camera will continue to refocus on your pet while it’s moving. As well, you’ll have the power to shoot whenever you want to, regardless of whether or not your lens has focused. When you’ve set your camera to single-shot mode, its shutter will not fire if its lens hasn’t achieved focus.

Also, for action, keep the aperture smaller to boost the depth of field. This will make up for minute focus errors as you follow the movements of your pet.

For portraits which capture expressive moments, utilize a 50mm lens of the standard type or go for a zoom lens which is able to cover lengths from 28 to 70 millimeters. Set your mode dial to Aperture Priority and then choose an aperture which is wide.

This aperture setting will allow for a background which is blurred. The blurred background puts the focus on the subject. It’s a pro pet photography secret.

As well, for dazzling portraits, utilize spot metering and then make sure that your pet’s eyes are in sharp focus. Try not to fire the flash, as avoiding flash means a soft look which is just right for pet portraits.

#3. Look for Superb Natural Light

puppy in natural light
If you’re planning to take shots outdoors, such as in your front or backyard, you should be aware that photographers refer to sunset as the “golden hour“. It’s “prime time” for beautiful portraits of people and animals.

So, you may want to take advantage of superb golden hour lighting when you photograph your dog, cat or bird. Most pro pet photographers find that they get the best results around sunset or shortly before. Some also get excellent results shooting right at sunrise or shortly afterward.

If you’re going to photograph your pet indoors, you’ll benefit from taking pictures close to windows which bring plenty of beautiful natural light into the room. If there isn’t sufficient natural light in a preferred location, you’ll need to add it yourself.

You’ve probably seen pictures of photography studios, where an array of lights are arranged around subjects, in strategic locations. Photographers add light because they know that it’s vital to premium picture quality. Finding exceptional natural light will save you some hard work.

In private homes, kitchens tend to offer the best natural lighting, so think about a kitchen photo shoot. Just get rid of any clutter before you shoot.

Many professional pet photographers don’t bother with studio-style lighting. They do just fine without it because they look for the best natural light and then use it to best advantage.

#4. Show Your Pet’s Personality

show your cats fun personality
There is more to great pet photography than planning a shoot, setting up a camera and then taking pictures during golden hour conditions. It’s also about capturing the unique personality of animals or birds.

Since you know your pet so well, think about his or her character and how to make it emerge during a photo shoot. If there’s a particular expression that your pet makes, which you personally find charming, think about how to conjure up that expression during your photo shoot. Have a goal in mind in terms of showing your pet’s personality.

Revealing the character of your pet through photography is really what a pet photo shoot is all about. The shots which display the most character tend to become cherished heirlooms.

#5. Invest in a Macro Lens

parrot Camera Canon EOS 60d macro lens
If you want to be able to see every minute detail of your pet in your finished photographs, such as individual hairs on a dog or cat’s coat, or the striking color variations of a bird’s plumage, you should seriously consider investing in a Macro lens.

This type of lens brings out fine detail like no other. For example, many photographers who specialize in taking pro portraits of cats utilize 100 millimeter f2.8 macro lenses, because these types of lenses capture the hypnotic, jewel-like eyes of felines to absolute perfection.

When you “go macro”, you’ll reveal fine detail which is truly mesmerizing.

#6. Get To Your Pet’s Level

dog image taken with macro lens
Our last pro tip is to get down on a pet’s level during the shoot. Crouch, lie down on your stomach or lie on your side in order to be at the same height as your pet. Play around with the way that you position yourself.

Once you’re in position, take a deep breath before you take a picture. Your deep breath will help you to avoid dreaded camera shake. Some people use camera bean bags in order to get more stability and support as they take pics of their pets.

Now that you know some sensible suggestions which will help you to get results that you love, why not plan a pet photo shoot today?