8 Top Tips to Photograph Pets

Want to capture a amazing images of your beloved furry friend? Follow this expert advice from Anna Clemann from Creature Focus Animal Photography.

I often hear owners lament that they can’t take good photos of their pets. This might be because their pet won’t stand still, because they have dark fur and dark eyes, or because Fido is a naughty dog.

To help those of you who struggle to get nice shots, here are my top tips:

1. Be patient. Think of your pet like a toddler: they don’t always want to sit still or do what they’re told. Take the time to wait them out, while still encouraging them to do what you want. Being patient is often the only thing you can do with cats, rabbits and other small pets that are not usually trained, so make sure you leave enough time when you are trying to photograph them.

2. Choose a location with good, even light. Whether inside your home or outside, lighting is the most important part of photography. Having nice, consistent light can make a world of difference, especially if you have a dark- or light-coloured pet. Look for shade under a tree if it is too sunny, or wait for some clouds. If you are inside, try to get your pet sitting near a window that gets plenty of light (but not harsh, direct sun).

3. When looking for the right spot, look into your pet’s eyes to see if you can spot the ‘catch light’. This is the small reflection of light in their eyes that makes them look alive. Without this their eyes will look dark and might be hard to see in the photo.

4. Have another family member or friend help you. When I am photographing, the owners are always involved because they can help me get the response I need from the animals. Having someone who knows your pet almost as well as you do means that they can make noises or hold toys or treats up that will get those wonderful reactions from your pet. You want that cute head tilt from your dog.

5. Catch your pet in a candid moment. When you see them relaxing in an adorable way or perhaps having a quiet play on their own, grab the camera and catch them before they know you are there. These kinds of shots can be difficult to get, but they are wonderful, and each time you look at them they will bring back memories.

6. Work on some noises. Use your ‘puppy’ voice. Think about the types of noises that prick the ears of your pet and try to replicate them; anything to get your pet looking at you with that curious expression. Remember, though, that you will need more than one sound as they soon catch on that it’s just you making the noise and get used to it.

7. Have a favourite toy and some treats on hand. A favourite toy can make dogs in particular go crazy and do almost anything. Show them the toy and then hide it behind your back or squeak it. Don’t forget to reward them with a play every couple of shots so they know what they are doing is right.

8. Lastly, but most importantly, always show them love while photographing them, and try to avoid getting frustrated. They sense when you become impatient and are even less likely to do what you want.

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