Top Tips for Photographing your Pets

Written by Jackie Robinson

Fawn Great Dane in the Peak District ©Cheshire Pet Photography

Pet Photography Tips and Tricks

 The Perfect Paw'trait

Whether it's a cat, dog, rabbit, hamster or horse we all love to photograph our four legged friends.  Jackie Robinson of Cheshire Pet Photography shares her top tips and techniques to help us take better photographs of our pets... 


grey paw

1. It’s all in the eyes

Looking at a picture that has a face in it we are naturally drawn to eyes. So the key thing in photographing your pet is that you focus there; the eyes have to be sharp. Even if the rest of the image is out of focus or has some motion blur it can still have impact.

Aim for pictures with your pet looking at you/the camera - this creates an instant connection in your picture. Make strange noises, use a squeaky toy, even a funny dance can work to attract your pet’s attention. You may feel rather stupid but if it works and you get the shot, so what!


Tip 1©Cheshire Pet Photography


2. The Artful Sparkle

It's that little twinkle in the eye that gives your subject life and depth in your photograph. Catchlights in the eyes is simply the light source reflected off them. 

It is worth repositioning your pet or waiting until they move their head so that you can see the light reflecting in them, giving you that little sparkle.

tip 2 2© Cheshire Pet Photography


3. Keeping it Natural

Using only available light has many advantages but try to avoid harsh, middle-of-the-day sunshine as it creates ‘contrasty’ images with ugly shadows over faces and bodies, and can wash out colour. If it is sunny try photographing in the shade. Shade and cloudy days are ideal; that’s when you get subtle and soft, even light that is much more attractive.

For atmospheric and warm-toned images take pictures early in the morning or evening when the sun (if it’s out!) is at a low angle, giving beautiful, warm side lighting. Just make sure your pet’s face is not in shadow and remember those catchlights in the eyes. Alternatively, go for a dramatic look and expose for the sky to create silhouettes.

Window light is an obvious solution if you are indoors, and gives far more favourable results than flash. Flash can create odd shadows and red-eye. If flash is necessary and you are able, try turning your flash so that it is facing away from your pet - direct it at a wall next to, or the ceiling above them, this gives a more natural effect.

top tip 3 2 © Cheshire Pet Photography


4. Higher, Higher, Lower, Lower

If you always take shots from one height you will get boring images after a while.

Try taking some from directly above with your pet looking up at you. For intimate, engaging shots get down to their level and if you fancy a dynamic look shoot from below.


top tip 4 2 © Cheshire Pet Photography 


5. Behind the Scenes

Mess can really spoil a picture. Too much going on and your pet will merge into the chaos. Location-wise anything from a sandy beach or a leafy wood, to your own living room will work as long as you keep an eye on what is going on behind your subject.  

Do you really want to see your leftover meal behind your cat? Also watch out for trees, lamp posts, table legs or lampshades protruding out of heads.

Try photographing them in front of a raindrop covered window, a moss-covered wall or characterful, paint-peeling barn door. Plain, bold colours as backdrops can make an image zing! Use a complimentary tone for a restful feel or a contrasting shade to create that ‘WOW’ factor.

Try a coloured blanket or large cushion behind your pet (as in the image below) a brightly painted door or a mass of blooms (preferably all one colour) - even a bright blue wheelie bin can be useful!

top tip 5 2© Cheshire Pet Photography  


6. Composition is King

Putting your subject in the middle of the frame can look a little boring. Offsetting your pet left or right, top or bottom, makes a far more interesting composition. 

Try filling the frame with a close-up of a nose or a paw. At the other extreme, go wide for an environmental style or candid for that documentary look. Or get creative and crop to produce a quirky, graphic picture.


Tip©Cheshire Pet Photography


7. Keep Calm and Carry On

Let your furry friend do their own thing - if you take your time and have patience you will succeed in capturing what makes them so special. It is very easy to freak out your dog or cat if you are constantly giving them commands. And remember that posing is tiring for them, so do a little and then reward their hard work. Give them a break, let them play and then try some more 'set-up' shots but always make it fun for them.

Experiment, have fun and don't stress about the duffers (I've taken a fair few over the years, and still do, it's just how we learn - but you will find the bad ones become fewer). Don't think that you need fancy equipment, it's all about who is behind the camera - even the most expensive and high-tech camera won't make the photographs any better if the user doesn’t have the knowledge or imagination - you are the one with the control.


j robinson photography round 

Cheshire Pet Photography - Jackie Robinson


T: 07596 178537

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❝ With over a decade immersed in the world of photography, composition, lighting and editing, I have honed the skills required for creating those top quality images that will decorate your walls.   If I am not out photographing a cherished furry family member, exploring new locations or having some sneaky time in the garden soaking up a little sunshine, I can be found 'office chair dancing' to some upbeat music, wading through raw files from the latest session, a cup of tea and something very chocolatey to eat on my desk ❞  

 Jackie Robinson 


the lady behind the camera 


"It has been an absolute pleasure to not only have Jackie take the most beautiful pictures of Ted, but to also see how she works and the obvious passion she has for both photography and animals. Right from the start she had thought of everything and nothing was too much trouble for her. A truly talented lady who has managed to capture the essence of Ted in her work which now has pride of place at home. I would highly recommend her and will be having more pictures done with her in the future"  - Jacqueline, High Lane

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Pet photography services covering Poynton, Cheshire, the Peak District & Derbyshire areas