Top Ten Tips for Photographing Pets


© Copyright Mike Saunders

Elizabeth West has written an excellent article on about how to get good pictures of your pets. I forwarded this article to my girlfriend because the memory card in her camera is typically chock-full of our ongoing attempts to document the unique and playful character of our two house cats. The photos usually end up as mostly out-of-focus shots of two ordinary cats in the throes of a long nap.

So here then are Elizabeth’s top ten tips:

  1. Be patient. Pets aren’t likely to “strike a pose”.
  2. Try to capture a characteristic action or activity. I suppose this would be “sleeping” if you own a cat.
  3. Get on the same level. Unless your pet is a horse or giraffe, this means you’ll need to crouch or sit down.
  4. Fill the frame with your pet. A good use of that telephoto lens you purchased.
  5. Don’t ignore the background. Just like composing any good shot, eliminate distracting background items and avoid mergers.
  6. Try for natural light. Flash will upset kitty and kitty likes to bite!
  7. Use a fast shutter speed. Elizabeth recommends 250 (1/250 second), or “sports” or “action” mode if available on your camera.
  8. Aim for the eyes. They say eyes are the gateway to the soul and, yes, it’s true, all dogs go to heaven.
  9. Overexpose a bit. Adjust the exposure depending on the available light and the color of the animal’s fur.
  10. Include people in the shots. Family members interacting with pets can bring out the best in both subjects.

Be sure to read the full article for more details. Interestingly, most of Elizabeth’s tips apply just as well to photographing people.


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