Patience. The first thing to remember is that pet photography requires patience. It doesn’t matter if you want a posed photo of your rabbit or a action shot of your dog, you’re probably going to get rather frustrated when your models are not behaving in the way you want them to. So arm yourself with patience, and never force your pet into doing something the don’t feel comfortable doing.
Get help. If you have a family member or a friend at hand, it’s always useful to ask them to assist you. They can use toys or treats to get the attention of the pet and direct their gaze while you focus on getting a great photo. If you’re by yourself you’re going to have to find other ways. Sometimes making a sudden noise can get the attention of the pet, but probably only for a second or two, so make sure you’re ready. Depending on the type of photo you’re after it might be easier to have the photo session after you’re played together for a while and the pet is less excited and bouncy.
Use natural light. If you’re not a professional photographer with access to different lenses and flashes, you’re probably going to want to take advantage of the natural light. Try starting outdoors, or if you’re indoors, by a window. The light will make the photo look better, and will give you more freedom to experiment. We would suggest going somewhere where both you and your pet feel comfortable, maybe a place that means a lot to you and where you have created lots of memories together. Try to choose a place with a relatively clear backdrop, like a while wall or a grassy field, as a messy background can be distracting.
Try to focus on the eyes. If the eyes are blurry or out of focus the photo will look slightly off. The camera will automatically focus on what is closest to the lens, which in most cases will be the nose of your pet rather than the eyes. This is especially important when you’re taking close ups.
Get down to their level. This might mean you have to crouch down in the mud or crawl on the floor, but in return your photos will be significantly more unique and interesting. Try taking photos from different angles: from above, below, in front of your pet, behind it. You’ll get to see your pet from all sides, and sometimes the photos from the weirdest of angles are the ones you will love the most.
Have their personalities in mind. The whole point of taking photographs of your pets is to try and capture their personalities, so try to make sure that their characters are showing in the photo. If you cat is the lazy ruler of the house you probably want to capture it yawning in their favourite spot on the sofa, and if you have a dog that bounces around the house and is impossible to tire, you probably want to capture its liveliness in the middle of a jump or running towards you in the park.
Quantity is key. The more photos you take, at different times and locations, the more likely you are to get that one amazing shot. This will also mean that you get loads of photos of your pet in different places, moods and positions. Get used to taking photos when you’re out on walks, playing in the garden, or just relaxing at home, and try to spy on your pet to catch what they’re doing when you’re not around. And remember to always take 20 photos instead of just one.
Use treats. If you’re trying to have a properly arranged photo shoot, try using treats. Depending on what pet you have, and their personalities, offering treats can make them sit still and look at the camera. Others will just walk up to you to get the treat, or ignore the treat completely, but it’s worth trying. Make sure that you reward your model throughout the shoot.
Add humans to the photo. Having family members in the photos with your pet makes the pictures even more special, and they are the ones that you will come back to and look at. A photo of your child playing with your dog or feeding the chickens will capture their characters in a way that a posed photo very rarely do.