Photoshoots for pets have become a trend worth noting, and our dog photography tips will give you the information you need to get the look you want. You can use these pet photography tips for all kinds of pets and shoots both indoors and outside.

Plan a List of Shots and Take Advantage of Natural Light

It’s a great idea to go with the flow when working with any dog, and one of the best tips for pet photography out there is to keep up with your subject and capture the moments as they unfold. However, as part of your preparation for a pet photography shoot, you should plan out the photos you want to take and the backgrounds you prefer.

For example, you can shoot in a wooded area with plenty of natural light or find an open meadow. Still, each of these locations will offer different opportunities for photos, and you should have a base idea of what you want to capture to help guide the shoot.

Natural lighting is essential for good photos, and to capture the best look, you’ll want to ensure you work with your pet on a bright but not overly sunny day. A dogs’ fur can reflect and shine in full sunlight, so one of the best pet tips you can follow is to choose a day with the most even light possible and avoid working in areas where you’ll be dealing with lots of spotty shadows.

It’s also best to find the right time of day where the light is ideal, and this will ensure that the photo you take will need minimal processing later. Light is especially important for a pet with darker fur.

Capture the Dog’s Personality and Focus on the Eyes

Here are some of the best photography pet tips that help for capturing the personality of your pet subject:

  • Stay sharp and keep up with your dog
  • Be very patient and wait for them to make a move
  • Relax and enjoy the process! It will make the pet relax too
  • Work to capture the pet owner bond by keeping your distance and watching closely

Your timing will need to be spot on to get the best possible photos, and you’ll want to try and anticipate the next move of your pet whenever possible. Pet photography requires that you move often, and you’ll need to use your camera quickly while changing locations.

Use Quality Gear and Alternate Perspectives

When you’re working with a pet and doing pets photography, it’s essential to have reliable gear that won’t hold you back or slow down the shoot as you make adjustments. The best equipment here will be easy to carry and maneuver while also working well with natural light. Photographing animals means you need to make preparations for a variety of different situations, and your pet subject won’t wait for you to catch up.

A digital camera will work best for photography pets, and a few lenses on hand will allow greater versatility during a shoot. For taking pictures of your own pet, you can also use your iPhone or another smartphone.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and forget about pet photography shots that are a bit more creative and unusual. Even if you don’t want to go crazy with different setups, just changing the perspective to give your pet photography a more quirky and individual look can have a significant impact. 

The most compelling images will capture your pet within a landscape that is dynamic and full of light. Choosing a unique angle, getting lower to the ground, or capturing your pet interacting with the landscape around them creates a powerful image.

top of dog head

Relate to the Pet and Don’t Shy Away from Close-ups

It’s always a good idea to try and make friends with the dogs you work with as the results will show up in the photos you capture with your camera. Dog photography, in particular, demands a calm demeanor and the willingness to speak softly, move more deliberately, and maintain a relaxed persona.

It also helps to have one person giving the dogs a command instead of several people and to go with whatever the pet decides to do at that moment.

It’s often difficult to get a good close-up in pet photography, but the effort is well worth the photo you take of their cute face. Close-ups are a great way to increase the aesthetics of your pet while still capturing their personality, and to get a pet to stay still; you’ll have to figure out how to get them comfortable with you and your camera.

Backgrounds and Working on Their Level

When working with a pet, it’s essential to get down to their level to capture the best shots that showcase their personality. People are generally used to seeing shots of a dog from above; however, you can get a much cuter look when you take the shot at or below their level. You might have to lie on your belly to accomplish this, but it’s a surefire way to get a smile out of your dogs and see their expressions.

One of the best tips to follow is to pay attention to the background in your photo. Clear up any clutter shown on the ground, and give your pet plenty of room to spread out. Dogs often like to play with a toy or two, and the right toy for a dog makes all the difference when it comes to bringing out their personality.

The right background or setting can have a similar effect, and pet photography has no strict rules when it comes to choosing a location.

white dog in front of beach

Photo by Lum3n Licensed Under CC0

To really bring out your dog’s personality, even more, you can also use props during your shoot, such as:

  • Their favorite toys, or toys you’ve brought
  • Favorite treats
  • Leaves, wood, and other dog safe items found in nature

Capturing a close-up of the dog’s eyes is an excellent way to get a compelling photo or portrait, and you can even get this shot at a dog show with the right lens.

Taking Photos of Black Dogs

For black canines, you’ll want to schedule your shoot for a cloudy day for more even lighting and fewer shadows. Avoid using a flash, and if it’s sunny, consider working in a shaded area, so the background isn’t overly lit. It also works best to focus on the eyes, and you can get the dog to look at you by placing a toy near the lens. Black dogs are also ideal for silhouettes, so the hour leading up to sunset is a perfect time.

What to do When Things Don’t Work Out

Even with all of these tips, there’s a chance the photo just won’t work out, and you can’t get a dog to stay still. You can try to encourage them to play, so they’re tired and will sit still, but some pets don’t like portraits. If you don’t get the look you’re going for in your photo, don’t be afraid to try again or change the surroundings.

two dogs sleeping on a bed

Tips for Photographing Running Dogs

Canines love to run and here are some photography tips to help you set up a proper photoshoot and get the best shot every time:

  • Make sure the location is safe for the animal to run around
  • Choose a lower point of view to see what the canine sees
  • Focus tracking gets recommended, and back-button focusing is essential in some instances
  • Use a more open aperture to ensure the image has a 3D feel
  • Encourage your subject to play, so you have some control over where they move
  • Don’t be afraid to use panning your shots
  • Use a wide-angle lens and move in close
  • Try a telephoto lens for a different perspective

About Your Dog Photography Kit

In your pet photography kit, you’ll want to start with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens and work to find the best settings for the background and environment where you’re working. If you’re working outside, lighting gear isn’t necessarily needed, but you should have standard lighting gear for working in a studio environment that you’ll need to adjust to a lower level to suit the pet. Using the back button focus feature on your camera can also help save time and ensure sharper shots.

You might also want to include a weatherproof camera bag as part of your dog photography setup, and waterproof clothing is also a good idea. You can take some of the dogs’ toys that squeak or make noise, and treats can help the pet warm up to you and your camera quickly.

black and white dog

What Can I Do With My Pet Photos?

You can always publish your pictures online in the hopes of selling some for money or create keepsakes from them for lasting memories or gifts. The average pet photographer makes just over $36,000 per year nationwide, so some supplemental income if often welcome.