How To Get Your Pet To Strike The Pose:  Tips for Photographing Your Pet
By Ian White

If you have ever tried to take a picture of your dog, you willPhotographing your pet - Jaxie
realize how hard it is to capture the pups full personality and
beauty in a photograph.  Dogs aren’t human, and they don’t
understand what we are doing when we try to take their photo.
They may think that the camera is a toy and charge at you,
instead of striking a pose. If you follow these tips, and take
your cues from your pet,  you can be assured of  great photos
of your pet.

Pets come in all colors.  If your dog is dark, you will need to
make sure that he doesn’t get lost in your photo due to a dark
background.  Dark animals photograph best with light colored or
neutral backgrounds.  You can use white, grey, or creamy beige
backdrops.  You should never take a photo of a Black Lab, or a
German Shepherd, against a dark background.  It conceals the
true color of your dog, and the dark background can also conceal
the true size, shape and proportions of your pet.

The same rules apply with pets that have light coats.  If you
have an apricot or white puppy, you would not place her in
front of a white wall for a picture. Photographs of animals
need to capture the color and texture of their coats.  If you
have a white toy poodle, you would want to place her on, or in
front of, a black, blue or brown backdrop.  This will assure
that the poodle’s springy white curls are the focus of the
picture.  It is important that you choose a background that
compliments your dog, and doesn’t hide its beauty.

The hardest thing to do is to get your pet to sit still for a
photo.  The best time to arrange a photo session with your pet
is when they are tired, or sleepy.  One trick is to lay the
correct color of sheet or blanket over your couch or chair.
Allow your pet to lie there after he has had a good half hour
of vigorous play.  Once your dog appears to start dozing off,
get its attention by a low whistle, a squeak from a squeaky toy,
or the sight of a treat.  The animal will perk up immediately
and appear to be wide awake. It is important that you are ready
to snap the shots immediately.  For a larger dog you can drape
its bed with the correct color of sheet or blanket.  It is also
best to take your pet’s picture when they are well fed.  That
way they are not distracted by wanting food while they are
modelling for you.  The treats you hold up will be more a
curiosity item to them, instead of a hopeful dinner.

In professional animal pictures, usually the full body of the
animal is shown.  This allows the viewer to get a general idea
of the size and proportions of the animal.  It also will allow
the viewer to get an idea of the animal’s general health and
appearance.  You wouldn’t want to have just a head shot of your
pet if it had unique colorings that made it cute.  Some animals
appear to be wearing  little white socks on their paws, or the
ends of their tails may appear to have been dipped in a paint
bucket.  Be sure that your picture captures all of the unique
things about your entire dog.  However, if your dog just has
an irresistible face, you can take head shots.   Some pets will
appear to smile when they are very happy.  Nothing says “love me”
like an innocent puppy face.  You need to be conscious of the
background. Even if the color is right, if it’s cluttered it
will be distracting and take away from the pet.  It is also
important to make sure that your pet is in the center of the
shot, and that it is not cropped off just before the tip of
the ears, or tail.

When you are taking photos of your pets, it is important that
you are at least at the animals eye level, or below.   This gives
the picture the sense of being from the dog’s viewpoint. You can
accomplish this by elevating your dog to a higher position, like
the staircase, or furniture.  Or, you can lie on your stomach
to achieve the same results.  You need to zoom in as close as
possible, while still capturing the entire body of your dog.
You can edit out any red eye, later.

It is best to use a digital camera when you are photographing
animals.   With digital cameras you are not out any extra money
for the photos that didn’t take because Spot looked away. With
a digital camera you are free to take as many pictures of your
animal as you like, so snap away.  You can choose the best
ones later, and delete the rest.  You have more freedom with a
digital camera.  You are not constrained to just a set number of
pictures, and you do not have to sit and wonder if they worked
while they are getting developed.

If you plan to take pictures of your pet outside, it is best
to do this early in the morning, or late in the evening.  The
natural lighting is better for photographs during these periods
of the day.  You still need to keep in mind the color choices
of your background.  You can take a picture of your black puppy
sitting on a white patio, or in front of your home if you have
light colored siding, or brick.  You can take a picture of your
white dog in a flower bed that has black mulch, or sitting in
front of a dark brick wall. Most animals can obey the command
of sitting.  Some animals will even sit if they have a leash
on, even if it is not being held. Outdoor, natural lighting
works the best when you want to show the texture of your
animal’s coat.

The expression of your dog is one of the most important things
you need to keep in mind when you are photographing your animal.
If your animal is ill, or having a bad day, you may want to
reschedule your photo session to a later time.  A wet and moist
looking nose is a must in all pet photos.  If your pet is
feeling unwell, they probably aren’t up for their photo being
taken.  If your breed of pet should have perky ears, and they
are laying down because the pet is not as cheery as usual, you
should postpone your picture taking, as well. You should never
take a picture of your pet if they have runny eyes due to an
infection.  Wait until your pet is doctored and feeling more
like their cheery, upbeat self.

You can take action shots of your pet.  Does your pet like to
catch frisbee’s or herd sheep?  To capture your pet in action
you must learn what photographer’s term “panning.” The key to
panning is to follow along with your pet as they are moving.
You need to click away capturing them throughout their activity.
You can choose a film that is made for action shots to get good

You know your pet and what excites them.  Does your pet like to
stand on two feet and beg for a certain toy, or treat?  If so,
then get someone to assist you during this photo.  They can
interact with the dog while you snap the pictures.  These shots
are great ways of showing the personality of your dog. Does your
dog like to tilt its head when it hears a certain noise?  Then
be ready to capture their photo while your assistant provides
the noise.  Does your dog like to hide in the shrubs, or get
playful with a ball? You can also capture these types of photos
if you are tuned in and ready with your camera.

Photographs are a great way of preserving the beauty and
personality of an animal.  Just keep in mind background color,
and try to photograph your pet for still shots when they are
well fed and somewhat sleepy. If you photograph outside, try to
arrange your photo time in the morning or late evening hours,
and don’t take their pictures directly facing the sun.  Make sure
your pet is feeling physically well so that their personality
can be captured, and if you use a digital camera you won’t have
to worry about wasting film.  If you take action shots, practice
the panning technique.  If your pet performs tricks, enlist
the aid of a helper and photograph your animal performing.
Photographs will be around forever, and if you do them correctly
they can reveal a lot about your pet.  Take your cues from your
animal and you will have wonderful photographs every time.

Author Ian White is founder of
specializes in helping pet sitters and pet owners connect to each
other.  Find and screen a sitter for your pet or advertise your
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