Pet Photography: 5 Tips to Photographing Un-obliging Pets

As mentioned in my very first post, I’ve been taking photos of our family pets since I was little, and although my technology has changed from a disposable camera to a digital one, one thing that hasn’t changed is that an animal will not sit still and it can be quite a challenge to get a clear shot. You’ll come along and see your pet sitting all adorable, sit on the floor to take a picture of them, and before you press the shutter they’ve started walking towards you to see what you’re doing. Most perfect pet pictures come from 25 blurry shots and one perfect one, or a spur of the moment chance shutter click where your pets happens not to move. However, there are some tips to getting an adorable picture of your pet that you can treasure.

Tip 1: Photography Your Little Angels Whilst They’re Sleeping

Not only are our pets super cute whilst they are asleep, but they won’t be on the move so you can take your time to adjust your camera settings to ensure the correct exposure and sharpness. This is also a great chance to get an up close picture of their little paws because they’ll be stretched out.


Tibbs my 1 year old cat as a baby and now.


Tip 2: Removing Background Noise

Most likely your photographing your pet in the house, as much as we’d all love to believe we have spotless, white, minimalistic houses this isn’t true, and quite often televisions and other household objects in the background can be quite distracting from your main subject, your pet!

There are 3 techniques to achieve this. The first one is to take a picture of your pet from above whilst they’re lying on a plain background, like a rug or a sofa, and pets are quite lazy so this is quite often. Not only will this help your camera focus on your subject but it will allow the viewers eyes to be drawn to your pet and not the mug of tea in the background.


Archie is a one year old born to be a cat model.


The second technique is to take a photo up close of your pet. At first your pet is going to wonder what the thing in front of their face is but after a few sniffs they’ll become uninterested, or if you’re lucky, they’ll be so interested in the lens that they’ll stare straight down the middle like my cat, Archie, pictured below. This is great for catching sharp details like the fur on their nose or the amazing detail in their big eyes. Big warning here though, under no circumstances should you have your flash on as this is just cruel on your pet’s little eyes!


Archie’s eyes are a great subject because they’re so vibrant and draw attention instantly.


Technique three is not so much about the angle to remove background noise but a prop. If you were photographing a model you may use a screen, this is a low budget pet equivalent. Grab a big blanket or sheet and place it over the back of your sofa, some pets, mostly dogs, you can then sit on the sofa, tell to stay and take their picture, other animals, like cats will have to do this on their own terms, therefore, it’s a matter of waiting for them to sit in front/on the blanket and if you make it look cosy enough this probably won’t take too long. And there you have it your own model backdrop.


Above: Brothers from birth Tibbs and Patch always sleep together which is always cute to photograph. Below: Sam my 15 year old cat still has every ounce of adorable.



Tip 3: Going Out in to Nature with a Fast Shutter Speed

The best background you can have is nature’s own, so take your pet out into the garden, or if you’ve got a dog, go out for a walk in a field or woods. The natural light and trees and flowers will make a great composition. These environments peak the interests of the explorer in your pet, consequently a fast shitter speed will most likely be needed to catch your pet in motion. You’ll need a shutter speed of at least 1/250 for a slow-moving pet and 1/500 to 1/2000 for a running pet or birds. Alternatively, you could hold a treat or one of your pet’s toys in front of the camera so they stay still waiting for you to throw it just long enough for you to press the shutter.


Dexter our very energetic Black Labrador


Tip 4: Always Have Your Camera Ready

Sometimes, you’ll walk into a room and your pet will be sat in a window, or curled up on a sofa, bathed in sunlight, looking super cute and in a minute they will have thought of something else and wandered off. In these situations, you don’t want to find you’re out of battery or you can’t find your camera. Pets are prone to being cute and will accidentally create a perfect shot with no input from you, so when these miracle compositions appear be ready to run and grab your camera before they move!


Couldn’t have posed him better myself; Archie enjoying the sunshine.


Tip 5: Capture the Fun Memories

Sometimes the best photos are the busy, messy, hilarious photos. They don’t need to be magazine ready, they just need to capture that single moment where your pet did something you’ll cherish. My favourite pictures of my cats are when they meow or yawn and have a funny face, and when my dog shreds a toilet roll all over the house the first thing I do is grab my camera. These are the family photos you will look back on and say, “Oh do you remember when [pet] did this?” with a laugh. You can’t replace those moments, they’re what makes pets such a big part of our lives.


DSC_0157 - Copy
Top Left: Lily. Top Right: Tibbs. Bottom: Archie.


Hope these tips help to improve the photographs you take of your pets and allow you to capture those precious moments.

Best Wishes,

Amy Williams-Weeks (AWW)





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