Whether you’re taking photos of your pet or someone else’s, learn how to capture perfect and adorable pet portraits.
1. Use natural light
Natural light is easy to work with, free, and will result in beautiful pet portraits. You don’t have to worry about artificial lighting or making the pet feel comfortable in a studio.
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The best places to shoot with natural light are outside or near a large window.
Look for places with shade, so there aren’t any hard shadows. If it’s a cloudy day, you can shoot anywhere.
When you’re indoors, the window can help diffuse the light, which results in soft and flattering light on the pet.
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It’s also important to avoid using flash. It can scare the pet, and the red-eye effect can occur.
2. Have treats and toys on-hand
You can’t tell a pet to pose the same way you’d tell a human, and that’s what makes it difficult.
However, the key is to use treats and toys. It’ll change the entire dynamic, and you’ll be able to capture great pet portraits.
Whether you’re photographing a cat or dog, treats and toys will encourage them to do what you want. It’s the best way to keep them engaged.
3. Use a fast shutter speed
Pets like to move around, and they can move quickly. You need to use a fast shutter speed because it’ll freeze movement.
By using a fast shutter speed, your photos will be well-exposed, in sharp focus, and the pet’s movement won’t be blurry.
Use manual mode or shutter priority, and set the shutter speed to 1/250 or faster. If you’re photographing a dog running, you may want to use a shutter speed of 1/1000.
Along with a fast shutter speed, you can ensure that you capture a great photo by using continuous shooting or burst mode.
4. Get down to their level
For a personal, emotional, and striking photo, follow the same guidelines as photographing children by getting down to their level.
When you photograph pets from their level, you’ll capture their face, a great perspective, and a more intimate portrait.
You’ll have to crouch down or lie on your stomach. However, the results are worth it.
5. Portray their character
Pets have unique personalities. When you’re shooting pet portraits, portray their character because it’ll make it unique.
If you’re taking photos of your pet, it’ll be easy. If you’re photographing someone else’s pet, talk to them and get to know their pet.
When you capture the true character of a pet, it’ll result in an adorable and special photo.
6. Focus on the eyes
In your pet portrait, make sure the eyes are well-lit and in sharp focus. In addition to well-lit eyes, try to get a catchlight because the pet will look full of life and expression.
7. Include people
People love their pets, so capturing photos of them together will lead to happy memories. It’s also a great method to make pets comfortable.
When you include people in the pet portraits, you’ll capture great candid photos. The result of a candid photo is genuine emotions and movements, leading to a better photo.
Frequently asked questions
What’s the best lens for pet photography?
A 35mm lens and a 70-200mm lens are the top lenses for pet photography.
How should pets pose for a photo?
When you’re photographing pets, capture photos of them sitting, walking, and playing.
Does portrait mode work on pets?
Apple’s portrait mode works well on pets.
Pets are fun to photograph. The key is learning how to make them look picture-perfect. By implementing the right tips and having patience, you’ll be able to capture adorable pet portraits.
Featured image courtesy of Canva.
About David Em
David Em is the founder of Portraits Refined. He’s a published portrait photographer dedicated to helping photographers develop skills, capture incredible photos, and build successful businesses.