How to Take a Great Photo of Your Pet

I wish I could share with you all the great photos we’ve taken of Opal, Dixie and our slew of kitties, both past and present. They’re so photogenic and have unique personalities that are easily captured on film.

A great photograph speaks for itself; it captures its subject perfectly and conveys a message about the time, place, and mood.  Taking a memorable photograph of your pet doesn’t require professional equipment or skills.  A simple digital camera will often do the trick.  The following advice should help you steady your hand, determine the right amount of lighting, and recognize the right moment to snap a photo of your pet. I shouldn’t really be talking about this subject, since I typically have to snap away for hours in order to catch perhaps one or two good ones… and it’s always, always due to my own incompetence! For those of you who have a bit more of an eye than I have, these tips should come easily.

First, be sure your pet is clean and well-groomed. Unless you’re taking an action shot, a dog who’s just done swimming in the ocean or a cat who’s been rolling around in mud aren’t the most attractive. So, grab a bottle of Opie & Dixie’s Organic Oatmeal Almond Shampoo or our Organic Unscented Kitty Shampoo, and give your dog or cat a nice scrub. If all they need is a refresher to make them look nice and shiny, a quick wipe down with our Organic Rosehips Dry Shampoo and Conditioning Mist will do the trick.

Sitting Positions

For family or holiday photos, a seated position is ideal.  Here is how you can get the best angle of your dog or cat:

  • Avoid using a flash.  Take pictures where there is a lot of natural light.  Avoid direct sunlight and high traffic or distracting areas like roadways and crowded parks.
  • Bring along familiar items that will grab your pet’s attention.  Balls, bells, and toys provide noise which will generate a healthy dose of curiosity in your pet.  You will be able to get a variety of poses quickly and with little effort as long as you have these items with you.
  • Reward your pet for his or her efforts.  Take along a small bag of treats.  Give your dog or cat one each time he or she sits still for a photograph.

Action Shots

  • Choose a location that is familiar to your pet.  Backyards and neighborhood parks are great places to capture your pet in action.  Keep your camera in hand and wait for the perfect opportunity to start shooting.
  • Have someone around you engage in play with your dog or cat.  Children have a great time completing this task.  Give them a variety of items to play with try to take pictures from different perspectives.  Some of the best photographs include people in the shot.
  • Get in close and get on their level.  Think like your pet.  See the world through their eyes.  Make things personal by removing the human perspective from your work.
  • Catch them in the moment.  Try to capture the things about your pet’s personality that makes you love them so much.  If your dog likes to bury things, catch him in the act.  If your cat is keen on napping, make sure you get a shot of her sleeping the afternoon away.

Photography is a gratifying hobby that can be picked up easily at any age.  Using even the most primitive camera, you can take amazing pictures of your pets at rest and at play.

If all else fails, do what I did:  hire a professional pet photographer! My friend, pet photographer Kira Stackhouse, is a sure bet!