Struggling to Snap Photos of Your Pet? 5 Expert Tips for Perfect Pet Portraits

From angles to camera settings, expert photographers and animal behavior specialists share their top animal photography tips.

As anyone with pets knows, capturing the perfect photographs of our furry friends is easier said than done. To help out, photo experts at CEWE have worked with professional photographers and animal specialists on five top photography tips to help capture those perfect pet portraits.

1. Focus on the eyes

In the best portraits, the eyes tell a story. professional photographer, Kevin Mercier, explains;

“As the saying goes ‘Eyes are the windows to the soul’, and an animal’s eyes can be very expressive. So, make sure you focus on your pet’s eyes and keep them sharp. There are certain cameras that offer eye autofocus for photographing animals. I activate this feature when I’m photographing animals which allows my camera to identify the animal’s eyes – and nails focus consistently.”

2. Treats are key

Treats are a sure-fire way to ensure dogs and cats are paying attention during your photoshoot, but this simple trick also works for more unconventional pets, such as chickens. Owner of CluckinNeil Armitage, says;

“You will need endless patience and a pocket full of treats. With poultry, in particular, it can help to cover the treats with a layer of soil so they are otherwise occupied scratching about while you are busy with the camera.”

3. Check your camera settings

One of the main difficulties when shooting images of animals is movement – ​​it can be hard to encourage an animal to stay still for long enough to get a clear shot. To counteract this, you’ll need to amend your camera settings. Mario Perez, from Blog del Fotografosuggests;

“In terms of exposure configuration, I recommend shooting in Aperture priority mode (A or Av if you´re using a manual mode camera) and selecting the widest possible aperture (lowest f/ value you can get). This will result in a very shallow depth of field, with the pet extremely in focus, and the background beautifully blurred out. If you´re shooting a rather active animal, you may want to switch to Shutter priority mode (S or Tv in your camera dial), and select a high shutter speed, to make sure you get sharp pictures.”

4. Prepare to get dirty

The best portraits are taken straight on. For many pets, this means getting down to their level – and accepting you may need to get a little dirty! Sarah-Jane White, Animal Behaviourist and Professional Photographer at Ruffle Snuffle®has the following advice for taking portraits of dogs;

“Don’t be surprised if your phone or camera gets booped, and remember to keep a handkerchief in your pocket so you can wipe the lens clean. For the best results, take a low angle shot that captures your dog in its natural habitat. Depending on what breed of dog you have, you may need to crouch or lie on the ground to get an eye-to-eye shot. I have spent a lot of time laying in the snow and mud to get shots – but it’s worth it.”

5. Use burst mode

No matter how skilled you are, animal pictures are rarely perfect first time. Pets are unpredictable, so burst mode is ideal for catching expressions, emotions, and split seconds in time. Marjorie Dawson, of DashKittenrecommends;

“Switch to continuous shooting mode then let fly with the shutter button and fill your memory card with lively and engaging images. Set your camera to capture high-quality images but avoid the RAW setting if you can, as your camera might not process the images fast enough to keep up with a speeding puppy or kitten.”

For more information, and to learn even more animal photography tips from the experts, please visit the CEWE blog.

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