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How To Take Pet Photography With Your Smartphone

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Today’s smartphones have advanced cameras that we can use to take outstanding smartphone pet photography. Having a camera and a pet isn’t enough, though.

This article is both for the professional pet photographer and the beginner who wants to show off their adorable puppy on Instagram.

It’s important to be familiar with a few pet photography skills.

Download an Advanced Camera App

Close up shot of a person taking a photo of a printed polaroid with a smartphone

It’s very likely that your smartphone camera isn’t giving you all the features you deserve. An advanced camera app will give you control over exposure, ISO, focal points, and other important features.

Using these tools, you’ll be able to take stunning photos of your pets in any environment.

Here are some of the most popular camera apps for iOS and Android users:

Make the Most of Natural Light

Stunning smartphone pet portrait of a white cat resting against a white background

Natural light is a priority in almost every photography genre. Using natural light, you can take well-lit photos of your pets. You won’t have to worry about professional equipment.

For indoor photography, take photos next to a large window on a sunny day. If the light is too harsh, use curtains to soften it.

For outdoor photography, take photos in a shaded area when it’s sunny. All the surrounding light will make your pet’s eyes sparkle and give them a flattering glow.

You can also take photos in an open field when it’s cloudy. This will ensure that your pet gets hit by as much soft light as possible.

Focus on the Eyes for Emotional Photos

A tabby cat against white background - smartphone photos of pets

If you want to take soulful and expressive photos of your pet, focus on their eyes. You can take closeups or crop your photos so that only the eyes are visible.

When you take photos indoors, make sure there’s enough surrounding light to make your pet’s eyes stand out. You can use white walls or reflectors to create that special glow.

Get on Your Pet’s Level to Make Them Feel Comfortable

A close up of a gerbil in a plastic ball - smartphone photos of pets

If you get down on your pet’s level, you’ll have a lot of unique perspectives to work with. You’ll also make your pet feel more comfortable.

If you always take photos while standing, you might have to crop your photos. This will lower your image quality.

The closer your smartphone camera is to your pet, the easier it will be for you to take high quality photos.

Use Simple Backgrounds to Avoid Unflattering Photos

A pet portrait of a playful white cat taken with a smartphone

Avoid busy backgrounds filled with messy clothes, people, and vibrant colours. The simpler your background, the easier it will be for people to focus on your pet.

You can hang up bedsheets to create a makeshift studio backdrop. Or you can use a white wall, or take photos in empty spaces. Fields and white rooms are perfect for this.

Never Use Flash

The silhouette of a dog against a glorious sunset - smartphone pet photography

Even in portrait photography, flash is considered disruptive unless professional equipment is used. It’s very unlikely that your phone has professional flash features available. So don’t use it.

Flash will make your pet’s eyes glow in an unflattering way and might even scare them.

Instead, experiment with creative photography techniques if it’s too dark. Take photos of your pet’s silhouette or shadow.

You can even take it further by creating a double exposure using your pet’s outline!

Be Patient With Your Pet to Avoid Unnecessary Discomfort

A sweet pet portrait of a tabby cat taken with a smartphone

Keep your pet’s comfort in mind before your photoshoot. If they’re sleeping, take advantage of their calmness. Take serene pet photos. If they’re grumpy, try again another day.

No matter what, never force it to pose for you unless you want to end up getting scratched or bitten. If you make your pet feel uncomfortable every time they see your smartphone, they won’t be interested in posing for you again.

Make the shooting process comfortable and safe. Give your pet rewards and let it go if it wants to sleep or gets distracted.

Don’t Forget to Take a Selfie!

A sweet portrait of a female model posing with a tabby cat - smartphone pet photography

If you have a cuddly pet, chances are it will enjoy the selfie-taking process. If your pet is too cool for cuddles, you can still take beautiful selfies with it.

One of the easiest ways to take a pet selfie is to use special tools. For less than $10, you can buy a tool that will hold your pet’s favourite toy above your smartphone.

This will grab their attention and make it look like your pet is looking straight at the camera.

Another way to take a successful selfie is to play with your pet first. They will be more open to posing with you when they’re relaxed.

Use Both Hands to Stabilise Your Phone for Sharper Focus

A sweet portrait of a tabby cat by a windowsill - smartphone pet photography

Pet photography requires great multi-tasking skills. In addition to keeping your pet interested, you have to make sure your photos don’t end up looking blurry!

As you focus on your pet, remind yourself to hold your phone with both hands. If you loosen your grip, you’ll end up moving your phone too much. This means unflattering photos.

If All Else Fails, Experiment With Sounds

Humorous pet portrait of a cat sitting on a table on the deck of a boat - smartphone pet photography tips

(Skip to the next tip if your pet is scared of unfamiliar noises.)

Some pets are too rambunctious to listen to instructions. If your pet is making you rethink this whole pet photography idea, you can experiment with sounds.

This doesn’t mean you have to scare your pet with terrifying noises. Classical music or rustling sounds might be more than enough.

For example, my cat loves bird sounds. Playing bird sounds during a photoshoot catches her attention and makes her feel at home.

Play different kinds of music to see what your pet reacts to the most.

Use an Editing App to Enhance Your Pet Photos

Humorous pet portrait of a cute cat inside a spacesuit - smartphone pet photography tips

You can remove small distractions or colour correct your photos in advanced editing apps.

Knowing how to make your photos look better will help you develop your style. Once you’re familiar with your style, you can take unique photos of your pets.

If you want to colour correct your photos within seconds, use VSCO or Instagram. To fix blemishes and be in control of every part of your image, you can use Snapseed, Lightroom, or Photoshop.


Humorous pet portrait of a cute dog resting in a bicycle basket - smartphone pet photography tips

Pet photography will challenge you and make you smile at the same time.

All you have to do is familiarise yourself with your smartphone. Learn how to keep your pet interested during your photoshoot.

Once you feel comfortable with this genre, you’ll be able to take amazing photos of your beloved pet whenever you want.

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