Tips For Taking Amazing Pet Portraits

Pet photography, whether you are wanting to develop it as a career, or simply wanting photos of your own fur babies, can be an incredibly fun and rewarding genre to get into.

However, animals can be unwilling subjects at times, and be chaotic and unpredictable, which can make it difficult to get an award-winning shot of your pet. We have a look at some expert tips on how to create consistently good pet photographs.


Get a short telephoto lens

A short telephoto lens - typically something like a 70-200mm zoom lens - is ideal for pet portraits. The short focal length is great for full-body dog shots, and the far end of the zoom is ideal for tighter headshots, as well as being able to shot from a distance without invading the dog’s personal space.


Change your background

A collection of different backdrops that can be changed quickly will help create a diverse collection of portraits of your pet. Vinyl backdrops are ideal for wiping down and cleaning off mucky paw prints, or any unfortunate ‘accidents’.


Catch the dog's attention

You need to be able to get the attention of your pet, so keep some noisemakers handy. Hunter’s duck call whistles are ideal for creating a sound that makes the dog’s ears prick up while keeping your hands free for taking the photo.


Bribe them with treats

Treats for your pets are essential for getting them to behave, stay still and look in the direction you need them to for the best shots.


Use a reflector

As with any portraiture, a large reflector can be used to bounce some of the flashlights back into the subject, and fill in any shadows. Looks for reflectors that have dual sides with different colours, such as gold, silver, and white.


Practice makes perfect

Pets are not the most patient of models, so ensure you have your studio and lighting spot on and ready to go before your model arrives, as you will need to focus all your attention on getting them to behave and coaxed into position, rather than be distracted with lighting.

It could be an idea to use a teddy bear or similar furry toy as a stand-in model while you get the backdrop, lighting, and camera all set up, and take test shots, so once the pet arrives, you’re ready to go!


Study your camera settings

You will want to ensure that your camera is set up ready with the ideal settings for pet photography. Use a grey card to ensure the white balance is set correctly, and look at your camera’s autofocus settings to make sure it can track a subject that likely won’t want to sit still. Some cameras such as the Canon EOS R5 have state-of-the-art animal face and eye detection.


Edit your pet portraits like a pro

To get award-winning images, you will need to polish them to perfection. Adobe’s Lightroom Classic and Photoshop cost less than £10 a month and will let you clone out and touch up paw prints, dust particles, and correct the colours.


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