Ever looked at the wonderful photos of pets in books and calendars and wondered
just how the photographer managed to get the pet looking so photogenic? Do you
look at your own photos of the dog or cat and find that it turned its head away as you
Almost any camera can be used to capture a pet on film but the best results are
usually obtained by using a high-speed film and a fast shutter speed. Cheaper digital
cameras are often not fast enough but do have the advantage of allowing you to see
the result without wasting money and time.
When taking the photo the camera should be at the same level as the animal to avoid
distorting the pet’s proportions. Taking the photo looking down on the pet makes the
legs look short. Fill the view finder with the subject and don’t forget to check the
background as a tree or a chair ‘growing’ out of the pet’s head can ruin an otherwise
One of the most important aspects of good pet photography is to capture the animal’s
personality. Keep a camera handy for those times when you see the animal doing
something unusual or cute. Dogs and cats are always more ready to be photographed
when they are in their own environment and comfortable in the position, such as
asleep on their favourite chair rather than being posed. For close-up shots you will
need a zoom lens as, if you move in to close too the subject, they will almost certainly
move. Keeping animals in place long enough to obtain a posed shot can be difficult.
When taking a photo of more than one puppy or kitten it is a good idea to put them in
a basket as this keeps them all together within range of the camera. If you require the
animals to look at the camera they can be attracted by making a soft noise or using a
squeaky toy. Be prepared to use quite a bit of film to get the shot you want. All those
professional photos for dogs and cats that you admire have taken a great deal of
patience on the part of the photographer.
Black dogs and cats are difficult to photograph and it is important to make sure that
they are against a lighter background. As with any subject, make sure that your
shadow is not across the animal and if using a flash beware of ‘red eye’ where the
flash reflects off the pet’s eyes. To avoid this either take the photograph in light which
does not require a flash or try not to have the pet looking at the camera.
When photographing children with their pets try to have the child and the animal on
the same level.
When you add a new pet to the family start a photo album to record milestones in the
pet’s life, much the same as a baby album. The first photos may be of the new pet as
you take it home from the breeder or the animal shelter, Pup’s or Kitty’s’ first
Christmas, birthdays etc and of course, the family pet on picnics and holidays and
enjoying other family activities.