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.