Tips on Photographing Your Pets

South San Francisco, CA  September 25, 2021 by Allie Clevenger, ESC

With social media accounts for pets on trend, have you considered making your furry (scaly, or feathered) companion a star? Many accounts with enough followers on Instagram ink deals with pet product brands to get free stuff just for posting a couple of promos.


If you’re interested in gaining a following for gifts, or just for fun, here are some tips to get the most out of your photo sesh with your bestie.


Get Into Nature

Most pets adore getting outside where the action is! Interesting smells, things to look at, what could be better? The scenery is typically pleasing and the animals are more perky, alert and apt to play. If you have a pet that is strictly indoors, try venturing out on a leash with them in a controlled environment to make them feel more comfortable to explore.


Go Somewhere Scenic

You can take a dog just about anywhere. You can get great shots out of the car if you have someone driving alongside you and the passenger takes pictures. Get that face blowing in the wind! Other places you could venture include hiking areas, coastlines or dog parks. Don’t forget to tag your location in your pictures – for an extra boost of attention.


More About Light

If you prefer indoors, or the weather is impeding a great photo shoot, try to take shots near a large window to still reap the benefits of natural light. If you need to move furniture around, by all means have at it! Better shots come from an overcast day, but not one dark enough to use the flash. Camera flashes can be scary to animals, make them dislike the experience and cause the dreaded red-eyes of many unfortunate pictures taken in the 90’s!



See What They See

Get down on your pet’s level. Pictures of cats or dogs from the top is a snooze, we always see them that way. Sit on the ground, look around at what they see and start shooting. This gives you the opportunity to get close up shots of boopable noses and those bright eyes that sparkle when they’re having fun! Taking shots from this level makes the photo more intimate and pleasing to the eye. Speaking of eyes….


The best shots are of the animal’s eyes. Try to get photos where their eyes are the focus and directed toward the camera. This makes the photo more personable. They’re interacting with their audience and sometimes they can make hilarious faces!


Clean Up the Distractions

No one really wants to see the vacuum cleaner in the background, or what you had for lunch. Remove those types of distractions from your photos – they take away from the focus. Create a background that is boring – nothing to take away from your precious pet’s face. Don’t bother with filters, animals already have perfect skin! The best shots are close-ups where the background is almost non-existent.



Unfortunately, our pets are usually in tune with us and while they may be relaxing one moment, when you reach for your camera they often take awkward positions. It never fails that the minute you reach for your phone or camera when they’re doing something cute, they immediately stop what they are doing and either look away and run to see what you’re up to. Move slowly and try to not distract them from what they are doing, if possible. If you’re chill, they’re most likely to be chill too.


Entice Them with Food

Every pet has a favorite snack. Use this to your advantage. Peanut butter can cause a dog to have the most hilarious expressions as they try to work it around their mouth. Cats go CRAZY for catnip and sometimes just a whiff will send them into a flurry of acrobats. Using treats or toys to get them to look at the camera is one of the best ways to get a great shot. Use friends or family if you need an extra hand.




At any given time, your pet is lounging about on their favorite chair or bed, snoozing the daylight away. Get them going with play, a game of chase, or as mentioned previously, catnip. Throw the ball to get them running and keep taking shots – you can’t take too many (you don’t have to use them all, but you will have more options to post from.)


When dogs are panting, they often look like they’re smiling and a good bit of exercise will get that tongue hanging out the side of their mouth in no time!


After all this play, they are bound to be tired, and baby pets, especially, have a knack for falling asleep anywhere and in anything. Surprising them will give you an adorable photo of their cute little face and possibly more if they’re getting into something they aren’t supposed to. Toilet paper and cats, anyone?



Personality Plus!

Does your pet have a funny trick that you tell your friends about, but can never quite get them to do it when your friends are present? Set up the situation in which these funny faces, poses or actions happen and keep the camera close by. You could set up the camera to continually take pictures for a certain amount of time or be ready and waiting, camera in hand.


What is your pet known for? Are they lazy? Take a picture of them yawning. Are they crazy for cheese? Catch their face when you toss them a chunk of their favorite type.


Patience goes quite the long way when it comes to getting the best pictures for introducing your pet to the Instagram world. No one is a pro from the start, it takes diligence, practice and patience. Experiment with different pets, locations, treats, toys and situations. Build a brand around their personality and see where it takes you, the opportunities are endless!

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