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How to Get Creative with Pet Portraits (10 Fun Ideas)

Last updated: September 21, 2023 - 9 min read
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You’ve probably taken thousands of simple, spontaneous, and silly photos of your pet. Snapshots like this are ideal for making unforgettable memories and lifting your spirits. But pet portraits can get a little boring due to a lack of creativity.

And a lack of creativity, as you know, can ruthlessly distance you from a photography genre you love. Even if you’re not planning to master the art of animal photography, you might be pining for better skills. If so, you’ve come to the right article.

With the help of your imagination, you can take your pet photography to the next level. Even if you’re not a professional photographer, you can take wildly creative pet portraits with the help of these tips. You only need your imagination, a few special tools, and patience!

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10 Create Pet Portraits: Invite Your Pet’s Best Friend!

Animals tend to look hilarious when they have fun together. This is why you must take advantage of playtime. Bonus points if you have a pair of unlikely best friends.

If your pet has a best friend, invite them to a heart-melting photo session. Give them their favorite toys. And make sure you involve yourself in their games. You’ll have a blast and make your pet feel comfortable in the presence of another familiar being.

It’s hard to predict much when it comes to active pets. So don’t be afraid of being spontaneous. While this won’t be a planned creative photoshoot, it will provide many amusing photos. Some of which might end up in your portfolio!

1. Shop for Costumes

Anything you can imagine in miniature form, including pet clothes, is probably available somewhere. Many affordable pirate costumes, tutus, hoodies, sweaters, etc., are available online. You can take fabulous pet portraits if your pet feels comfortable in them.

Accessories are a great way to catch your pet’s attention and add an interesting element to your photographs. If your pet, like mine, dislikes costumes of any kind, try using them as an alternative.

My cat doesn’t mind bows or hats. So I often use them to add a spark of creativity to my portraits.

For the record, you don’t need to go shopping to take imaginative pet portraits. Look for DIY pet costume tutorials online. And you’ll discover a whole new world of crafting fun!

cute creative portrait of a black pug dog wearing denim jacket and looking towards the camera

2. Document Various Moments With a Collage

Why limit yourself to one photo when you can include many in a single collage or diptych?

Collages are ideal for capturing specific atmospheres, telling deeper stories, and documenting the lives of creative pets like yours. Diptychs are two-photo collages that look visually appealing in portfolios.

You can create images with a specific theme, like daily routines. This gives your viewers a clearer picture of your pet’s life. These photos can feature your pet washing, eating, sleeping, or doing something amusing.

Make sure it has a theme, no matter what you decide to document. Here are a few creative ideas to spark your inspiration:

  • Favorite toys
  • Most comforting locations
  • A tour of your home from its perspective
  • What it looks like after bath time
  • Most common expressions

creative pet portrait collage, four photographs of a stripy brown cat on white bed

3. Treat Them Like a Professional Model

Imagine that your pet is a professional model who wants to look glorious on the front cover of Vogue. Look at photos of people for inspiration. Notice simple light patterns that appeal to you and use them during your photoshoot.

Try to capture expressions that resemble human ones. Or do the complete opposite and make them look funny. This might sound “too professional” or even ridiculous. But it’s guaranteed to give you eye-catching results.

Since it’s unlikely that your pet will appreciate professional lighting equipment, stick to natural light. The great indoors have creative opportunities like curtain shadows, dappled light, and artificial rainbows.

These can all be used to enhance your pet’s features and add a touch of professionalism to simple portraits. Wide-angle lenses and fisheye lenses will create the best results. But feel free to use whatever you have.

close up pet portrait of a stripy brown cat with collar against dark shadowy background

4. Sharpen Their Selfie Skills

Animals can be masters of the selfie game, too. If you’re a fan of funny pet pictures, this one’s for you!

The best thing about pet photography is that flattering angles aren’t an issue; your pet will look amazing no matter what. This is why “selfies” featuring your pet are easy to make.

Using your widest lens, take photos of your pet from a low angle. Your pet will probably not be used to this perspective, so it will try to play with your camera. If this doesn’t attract its attention, use treats and toys. When it touches your camera, shoot away!

An important thing to watch out for is claws. Since you’ll have to get close to your pet to take these photos, your equipment will be within its reach. This might result in scratched fingers or, worst case scenario, a scratched lens.

To avoid this, take cat or dog selfies when your pet is calm.

using a smartphone for pet portraits - close up of a white cat looking down and touching the screen with paw
Shot with a phone. So don’t limit yourself. And experiment as much as you can.

5. Find Things to Fit Them Into

Do you know those oddly satisfying YouTube videos? The ones that feature impressive icing skills or objects perfectly fitting into things? Well, it’s just as satisfying when adorable pets fit into boxes, camera bags, and more.

If your pet loves getting cozy in small spaces, you’re in for a creative treat!

My cat (like most cats) loves boxes of any kind. So I have no trouble taking photos of her sleeping in them. These boxes can be disguised as houses, ships, or anything you feel like making.

Similarly, you can photograph your pet in camera bags, backpacks, or even strollers. Be as creative as you like. But make sure your pet feels comfortable wherever you place it.

creative pet portrait of a small brown dog packed into the middle of a camera bag, shot from above

6. Take Self-Portraits From Their Perspective

How do you think your pet sees you? To find out, take self-portraits from their perspective. You’ll both fit in the frame. But the focus will be on your pet. This might be tricky to master at first. So feel free to practice with the help of a friend.

Alternatively, you can take photos of your friend in the same style. This will make it easier to control focus, exposure, and more.

This kind of photoshoot will change your perspective. It will help you experiment with new angles and creatively highlight your pet’s world.

Something I love about self-portrait pet photography is that it strengthens the pet-owner bond. Whenever I take self-portraits with my cat, I notice a change in her comfort level.

When I take photos of her alone, she’s more restless. In my arms, though, she happily poses for the camera. This is why I often feature her in my professional portraits.

brown dog in a forest looking at a person in the background

7. Capture All Those Precious Details

I try to include details in every photography genre that I experiment with. It helps me appreciate my subjects and create interesting resources for diptychs or double exposures.

When it comes to pet portraits, I spend half the time focusing on details alone. Like collages, they tell a deeper story and turn seemingly insignificant moments into timeless photos.

Details don’t always have to feature your pet’s face. In fact, I encourage you to avoid it. Truly creative photos have a voice of their own, one that doesn’t demand the full picture.

Take detailed photos that reflect your pet’s personality, home, or interests. Your results will look unusual and abstract, but they will make sense. If you want to take it a step further, use these details in a collage or diptych!

the back of a ginger cat with green background

8. Make Them Look Like You

We all have distinct personalities, fashion tastes, and interests. Since we’re all unique, why not create pet versions of ourselves? The results will be nothing but creative!

If you were an animal, what would you look like? Find out what makes you stand out as an individual. It could be your glasses, your love for reading, or an item of clothing that means a lot to you. Use these items in your pet portraits.

If you want to be even more creative, create a diptych featuring your pet and you wearing the same clothes or accessories. You’re guaranteed to get incredible feedback with such creativity.

fun close up pet portrait of a brown dog in bed wearing glasses
The corgi’s owner enjoys relaxing on the couch under a cozy blanket.

9. Create a Masterpiece in Photoshop

My final tip requires knowledge of an editing program like Photoshop. As you can see in the photo below, the leaves weren’t a part of the original image. But this doesn’t stop the image from overflowing with creativity and sweetness.

You can recreate this using your pet’s favorite items, parts of nature that stand out to you, or anything else you find appropriate.
There are no limits when it comes to photo manipulation.

This is why you shouldn’t get rid of your outtakes. The simplest pet portraits could turn into creative works of art with the help of a little imagination.

Look for some photos and see what you can do with them. You’ll be surprised by the number of ideas you get!

example of using Photoshop for creative pet portraits by adding images of leaves surrounding a white cat on its back

Conclusion: How to Get Creative with Pet Portraits

No matter how many simple, spontaneous, and silly pet photos you’ve taken, you have the potential to create fantastic pet portraits. The good news? You don’t need to be a professional pet photographer to achieve this.

Just use your imagination, embrace the unknown, and make the most of your time with your beloved pet. Before you know it, you’ll have a rich collection of creative pet portraits. They will not only make you smile but inspire thousands of people!

Are you looking for more great tips on photographing your furry friends? Check out our article on one-light pet portrait setups or our ultimate guide to pet photography.

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