How to Photograph Your Pets to make the best Portraits - Top Tips!
Updated: Jan 31
I wanted to take a few minutes to share some top tips on how to best photograph your pets to allow me to create the best pet portraits for you. I hope you have already had a chance to look through my pet portrait portfolio, if you have you will notice that I like to make my pet portraits highly detailed, and as realistic as possible by capturing all the unique details of the pet model. In order for me to create this style of portrait I need a nice clear photo reference supplied by the client in the beginning of the booking process, otherwise it is very difficult to get a true likeness of your pet.
Now we all know that photographing our pets is not the easiest of tasks (!), and they do like to move around a lot or pull some strange faces, so please allow me to share my advice as a pet photographer to help you
The best lighting source for photography is natural day light as it creates a nice balanced white light. This is always best outside on a cloudy day in the garden, try not to use sunny days as this can create harsh shadows on the subject and squinty eyes! Also try not to use rainy days as your pet will look a little soggy in the photo and it will be hard for me to re-create their fluffy coat in the pet portrait.
Treats & Toys
If your pet has a favourite toy or treat you can use this as an incentive to get their attention during the 'photo shoot'. It is best to have someone with you that can hold it up near your camera or phone to aim their eyes in the right direction (although a little glance to the side can also look very cute!). Other ideas include waving your hand around like a loon above your head and making silly noises which will often trigger your dog to jaunt their head to the side in a very very cute pose!
Camera or Phone?
This is completely down to what you feel comfortable with. Phones these days have some amazing cameras on them, but please don't use flash while photographing as this can give your pet red eye from the reflection and can also frighten them.
Eyes & Detail
My most important tip of all is to capture a photo that shows your pets eyes clearly, as this is the main element I concentrate on for my projects, it is also the first thing I will always draw as this is what brings the portrait to life. Also if your pet has an unusual feature that makes them who they are please make sure this is captured clearly in the photo so that I can show their true personality.
(My Mali cat demonstrating her bright eyes!)
I really hope these tips can help you, and I do also understand that sometimes it isn't always possible to take new photos, especially when we have lost a beloved pet and can use only use the photos we already have. In this situation I would always work with you to suggest an alternative medium or size to best suit your reference so that we can still create a memorial portrait of your pet.