How to Photograph the Family Pet

Home & Family, Pets
on March 18, 2007

Getting the family pet to sit still while you snap a photograph can be a challenge. With that in mind, American Profile asked professional pet photographers to offer their best tips on taking frameworthy photos of Fido and Fluffy.

Keep the camera handy. Be ready when your pet strikes a pose. “Catch your dog or cat at their most natural, or when they’re doing something funny, like rolling on their back,” says photographer Kim Levin, owner of Bark & Smile Pet Portraits in Little Silver, N.J.

Get eye level. “The most important thing is to get eye level with your pet, whether that means putting the cat up on the counter or lying down with the dog,” says Leila Grossman, owner of Grannis Photography in Nashville, Tenn. Experiment with different perspectives. This can mean the difference between a stunning, professional-looking photo and an ordinary snapshot.

Go outdoors. Instead of using a camera’s flash, which can produce unnatural effects like red-eye and can frighten animals, photograph your dog outdoors in natural light. A bright, overcast day is ideal. Cats usually do best indoors, however, so place kitty near a sunny window.

Get the pet’s attention. Most dogs like squeaky toys, while cats are mesmerized by moving objects. Levin says that the shrill sound of a harmonica perks up canine ears. For cats, try waving a feather or a noisy shopping bag, or dangling a toy just out of their reach. If you don’t have props handy, whistle or make funny sounds.

Look at the overall picture. Consider what’s in the background; avoid distracting or unnecessary elements. Also, try photographing the animal’s profile, or position your pet off-center in the picture.

Be patient. “Have fun with it and don’t make it stressful,” Grossman says. It may take some time to get that perfect shot, so be patient, keep trying and make it a pleasant experience for you and your pet.

Found in: Home & Family, Pets