How to Take Photos of Your Pets

Taking photos of your pet(s) can be especially difficult- these subjects have a mind of their own and are constantly moving. The first step towards good pet photography is training! Make sure your dog(s) have a great “stay” or “wait” command. Once you’ve got their training down you can begin to think about gear.

Tip 1: Perspective

One of the first things I learned to improve my pet photography was to get down to eye level with your pet. I always try to get as low as possible when taking photos of my dogs unless I am going for the downwards view look.  I believe this is a great place to start out and once you feel a bit more comfortable playing with different angles is a great way to challenge yourself!  

Two photos; one of a mutt dog sitting on a bridge during the fall and one of two dogs, one mutt and one husky, sitting at their owner's feet

Tip 2: Bokeh

Bokeh is what gives your photo that creamy, dream effect that makes your subject stand out.  There are many ways to achieve great bokeh in pictures but I believe the best and most important one is your lens. A lens with a lower f stop will produce the creamer background in photos.  A lens with an f/1.8 or f/1.4 is typically the lowest you can find.  However, you do not need a lens with that low of an f stop to achieve this look.  Both lenses I use are only f/2.8 and zooms!  It is also important to note that your lowest f stop is never your sharpest.  I would recommend keeping a lens at 2.0-2.8 if the lighting permits. 

Two photos; one of two dogs smiling at the camera with a pretty fall background and one of a mutt dog in a fall sweater standing in front of a fall tree line

Tip 3: Framing 

In my opinion what really speaks to a personal talent as a photographer is their ability to frame a photo. In the words of Wikipedia, “in visual arts and particularly cinematography, framing is the presentation of visual elements in an image, especially the placement of the subject in relation to other objects. Framing can make an image more aesthetically pleasing and keep the viewer’s focus on the framed object(s)”.  For framing, I would have to say practice makes perfect.  I love when I frame my photos to bring attention to my subject, but they do not always have to be centered in the photo either. A mix of framing will bring variety and creativity to your photos.

Two photos; one of a husky standing in front of a pretty fall tree line and one of a husky and another dog sitting in front of an apple tree

Try it out!

Whether you’re totally new to photography or wanting to sharpen your skills, photographing your pets is always a fun place to start because it’s always more fun to photograph things you care about. Your pups may be a challenge, but you’ll have photos you really cherish when you’re done!