When I first embarked on my pet photography journey, I’d receive a lot of questions or responses regarding the difficulty of my subject matter. “How do you get them to cooperate?” or “Wow, I could never photograph a subject that is so unpredictable” were a couple of my personal favorites. While having a background in training does help at times, that is definitely not most important factor. The most important factor is to just go with the flow and remember to have fun! As long as the pup is having the time of their lives, you will get adorable photos. With that said, here are my top 5 tips for photographing your pup like a pro!

1. Don’t expect perfection

If you’re expecting your own or someone else’s pet to follow every cue to a t, while you’ve got a weird object in front of your face, your attempt will result in nothing but frustration and disappointment. Every single session I do, I have no idea what I am going to come out with. This does not mean that I don’t plan my shoots, this simply means that over time I’ve had to learn how to go with the flow when things don’t go exactly as planned. Our pets are curious creatures and they will naturally want to inspect the camera you are using, chomp on your props, or run out of your set entirely, and that’s ok! Just be on your toes and ready to capture however the animals decide to run the show!

2. Don’t kill your pet’s vibe!

Humans are an impatient species and we ourselves will often times ruin a pet photo op by letting our frustration get the best of us. Animals can feel our energy, including our frustration and anger, and then feed off of it. Once the positive energy is gone from a set, you can consider that photoshoot a wrap.
Stay as positive and calm as possible if you hope to get some really great shots of your pet!

3. Have the best goodies on the planet

This differs from pet to pet, so before the photoshoot, take some time to pick out their all time favorite treats and toys. I like to have at least one toy with a squeaker on me at all times throughout a shoot, especially for getting the attention back on me when those puppy ADD moments kick in (SQUIRREL!)

4. Get on their level

This is one of the most important components to a successful pet photo! Either get down on the ground with them or bring them up to your level. This will really increase their engagement and intimacy with the camera. While at their level, always try to focus on their eyes. The squeaker toy previously mentioned will definitely help with getting their eyes on you (just be ready and be on your toes in case they decide to lunge for the toy, or in other words the camera…or in other words YOUR FACE! This does happen from time to time.)

5. Lighting is key

High noon and direct sunlight are probably not going to result in the most desirable photos. Instead, try for sunrise or sunset to catch the golden hours of the day. If mid day is when you’re feeling the most creative though, choose a spot in open shade to avoid harsh light and dark shadows.

Now get out there and go have some fun!