How to capture your pet’s personality on camera

Having a photogenic pet is one thing. Doing them justice with a still image is another. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to set up a good shot, though—all you need is time, patience and maybe a little practice. Here, we’ve compiled a few failsafe tips for capturing your four-legged friend with a photo.

Natural light.

This goes for portraits of humans, too! Wherever possible, whether indoors or out, soft natural light is kindest to portrait subjects. Plus, you won’t have to worry about bright flashes spooking your pet.

Minimal background information.

A clean and unfussy backdrop will help your pet to stand out. Consider a plain, unobtrusive setting—a wall, a couch, a grassy lawn—to keep the focus squarely on your star. Depending on your camera or smartphone, you may also be able to adjust the aperture: the wider the aperture, the shallower the depth of field. This separates your subject from its background. (Think of the iPhone’s portrait mode.) Also consider colours. If you’re photographing a ginger cat, they won’t stand out quite as well in front of a red brick wall.

Comfort is key.

Most pets will photograph better in a familiar, comfortable location where they won’t be distracted by new smells or strange sounds, and you’ll have a better chance of capturing their personality. 

Shoot from the hip.

Hip-height, that is. Or...whatever height’s at eye-level with your pet. This helps to centre the visual perspective.  Remember, they’re the star here, and you want them to look like it!

Rewards between shots.

In movies, fashion photographers are often heard revving up their models as they shoot. (“Work it. The camera loves you.”) Your pet will benefit from the same kind of encouragement—whether in the form of pats, verbal praise or their favourite treat. It’s also handy to keep a toy or two close by to capture their attention or direct their gaze.

Switch up your angles.

If you’re having trouble getting your pet’s gaze to meet the camera, don’t worry: a cat staring fixedly at a dancing shadow or a pup occupied with a favourite toy can make for a great shot. Experiment with different angles 

Quality in quantity.

The beauty of smartphones and digital cameras is that there’s no need to fear wastage, or to be anxious about getting every shot right. Whether you’re dealing with a fickle feline or a rambunctious pup, the more photos you take, the better your odds of landing a winner. Sure, it’s not rocket science, but it pays to keep in mind.