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10 Tips to Capture the Purr-fect Pet Photo

We all want to capture that special moment with that special someone; but it can be difficult - especially when there are four extra legs to contend with! For many of us, pets are part of the family. Taking their photo to ensure such memories last can be very rewarding; and the opening of the CandaVet Pet Photo Contest this month, is just one of the reasons! Here are some tips on how to achieve that winning shot:

1. Types of Pet Pics

There are two kinds of pet photography: pet portraiture and spontaneous pics. Portraits are set up and usually require a good dose of patience. Spontaneous photos are often a matter of chance; your pet doing something interesting when you luckily have a camera on hand.

2. Get Down on the Ground

To ensure your pets don’t appear shy or submissive, it’s important not to take a photo looking down upon them. Instead try taking a snap when you are at their eye level, to portray intimacy. Or alternatively, place your pet on a raised surface, such as a bench so that you’re both on the same level.

3. Orientation

Landscape orientated photographs are great for full body shots of your pet. When focusing on your pet’s head, try using portrait orientation for your photograph. This also works well if your pet is sitting and you are at eye level.

4. Close and Pet-sonal

Fill the frame with your pet; because unless the surrounds are contextually important, they should be left out. Keep your pet the centre of attention by ensuring the background is plain, not busy. A busy background will distract the viewer. Try using a blank wall or hanging up a white sheet to keep it simple. Experienced camera users might like to try a wide aperture, to create a short depth of field which will blur the background.

5. Wild Side

It’s a good idea to take collars, leads and coats off for the photograph. This can help viewers to see your pet for the amazing animal they really are; without getting distracted by artificial colours and materials. 

6. The Eyes have it!

Your pet’s eyes are full of expression. Capture it by using a toy or noise to get your pet’s attention just as you take the photo. Make sure you clean their eyes first, to remove all the dirt that can collect there.

7. Fishy Business

If you want to catch a great fish photo get up close to your pet’s tank, otherwise reflections in the glass will ruin the photo. Taking the shot from an angle can also help. For outdoor ponds get an awesome pic by taking a photo at feeding time when they will be close to the surface. The darkness of the water will slow down the shutter speed, so hold the camera steady and try to take a photo when the fish are relatively still, to prevent camera shake. Try using different filters on your lens in both artificial and natural light settings.

8. Flash Lighting

The best lighting conditions are natural. If your pet must stay indoors, try taking a photo near a large window, where plenty of natural light can come in from behind, as you face your pet.  Avoid direct sunlight as some of your pet’s features may be eluded due to the increased contrast between the shadows and light. To maintain natural coloring, a bright but overcast day is perfect. Don’t use camera flash as this causes red-eye and distorts the true coloring of your pet. However, if your pet has a black coat, the flash may help establish texture and shading.

 9. Plenty of Pics

Our pets tend not to stay still, so if available, try using the sports mode on your camera to get an action shot. It may take a while before you get the ultimate shot but practice really does make purr-fect.

10. Pet-icular Personality

Capture your pet’s character. If they are an enthusiastic puppy –get a shot of them jumping playfully, for example. The camera might distract your pet; make them comfortable by having someone else familiar nearby, or have favourite toys readily available. You might feel a little silly as you juggle a squeaky toy and a heavy camera lens but winning a Pet Photo Contest prize is stupendous!

Remember, photographing your pet is about enjoying the time you spend with them. The best photo isn’t just about great composition or photographic skills – it’s about having the opportunity to share memories of the unique bond between pet and owner.

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