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To the Rescue: Phenomenal Pet Photos

I love snapping pictures of animals so much that I turned it into my final photojournalism project in grad school. For all those budding kit-otographers and pup-arazzi out there, get ready to take the best photos ever! While I admit trained animals are much easier to snap, if you (and your pets) can make it through these steps, you'll be well on your way.

Four Steps to Perfect Pics:

  • PREPARING. This may sound obvious, but make sure your pet is well-groomed and clean. Many times what is not obvious day in and out becomes much more visible in a picture. It's also a good idea to run a comb or brush through his hair pre-photo.
  • LIGHTING. Natural light works best. Flash can cause weird color changes in pets' eyes (to red or even blue in tone) and should be avoided whenever possible. If bright lights are necessary, set up lamps behind you or take photos outside with the sun behind you.

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  • POSITIONING. Remember taking school photos against a plain background? There's a reason for that – keep the focus on the subject and make the "set" as uncluttered as possible. Taking a photo in his natural habitat can give a nice perspective. So, if you're shooting him on his favorite chair, try to make the pet on the chair the only thing in your frame.
  • SNAPPING. Here's the tricky part; it depends a great deal on the pet, the style of photo you want, and the amount of patience you both have. Don't forget to get down onto your pet's eye level. If your pet is well voice-trained, you'll have better luck with posed shots. I like getting a mix of candid and staged shots and always use another person holding my pup's attention with treats or a favorite toy. Lastly, I recommend a fast auto-focus and shutter speed to get multiple takes and varieties. Especially if he darts off for a new adventure mid-shoot.

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Huckleberry Huckleberry 8 years
I think i have as many photos of my babies as i do my only child
facin8me facin8me 8 years
My iPhoto is filled with literally hundreds of pictures of my cats. Thanks for tips to make them better.
Tnkrbelli Tnkrbelli 8 years
Those cute dog avatars are lovely! So frickin cute!
Hootie Hootie 8 years
I was wondering why my dogs eyes are always glowing in pictures! Thanks!
akrsouth akrsouth 8 years
With having a black dog we had to learn so much to get good ones. We finally has success with a very nice camera and flash. But now we have only a few good puppy pictures.
avital avital 8 years
Love this new site! It'll be great for animal lovers like me.
chancleta chancleta 8 years
i've had photogenic dogs but my current dog hates the camera you basically have to trick'em
jmefiend jmefiend 8 years
oooh for my rescue dogs, every bit helps!
outofhere outofhere 8 years
Good tips! The fifth one should be patience! Photographing pets takes patience, patience, patience! I have a good camera so I can set whatever speeds I want but the key is taking shot after shot and being patient. I spent a couple of hours taking pics of my cats a few weeks ago and I kid you not, I only got two shots out of the whole session that I really liked!
beingtazim beingtazim 8 years
thats neat that you did photojournalism for grad school! those are great tips, Pet! I especially like the one about natural light.
simplysorry simplysorry 8 years
My dog stays still, the problem is keeping his eyes open. Those are some good tips, but a good camera helps too!
licia licia 8 years
If you have a smally hyperactive pet it's nearly impossible to get a clear picture of them! I have to take dozens of photos of my ferret before I get a decent one.
bellanatella bellanatella 8 years
Thanks for the tips.
cubadog cubadog 8 years
I had a photographer come to the house to do pics of Cuba and they turned out great. He was so well behaved and loved it. He even brought over his toys to show her!
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 8 years
I'm a picture-holic when it comes to my cats, and just about everything else. I like to share things, so taking pictures of oh-so-cute-moments is my way of saying, "Look what I saw today!" I just take a LOT. If you take 20 shots of something, you're more likely to get a good one. The key to this is a fast shutter speed, which my camera lacks. I haaaate my camera, but I still manage to get award-winning shots of my cats, and it is solely because of the sheer number of shots I take!
vanillakokakola vanillakokakola 8 years
I've never understood how people get such fantastic pictures of their pets posing. I can't get my sheltie to hold still for ten seconds. Usually, I'll have the perfect shot, but by the time I push the button to take the picture, he's decided it's time to move his head, so I get a cute picture of his body positioning, and a big sable blur where his head should be. Sigh.
htfontenot0224 htfontenot0224 8 years
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