back to top

The Ultimate Guide to Pet Photography (87 Best Tips)

A- A+

Subscribe Below to Download the Article Immediately

You can also select your interests for free access to our premium training:

Your privacy is safe. I will never share your information.
Related course: Perfect Pawtraits

Pet photography is a popular photographic niche these days. It can be photos of your furry friend for your Instagram feed. Or perhaps professional dog show pictures.

Knowing how to photograph pets is also a great way to practice for better photography in general. You don’t need your own pet photography studio to take perfect images. Read on for all the information you’ll need.

Perfect Pawtraits
Perfect Pawtraits
Capture stunning pet photos with this project-based ebook and cheat sheets, helping you get the perfect shot every time.
Buy from ExpertPhotography

[ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something, we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here.]

What is Pet Photography About?

Photographing your pets is about capturing their personality, their funny and sweet moments and their habits. It requires a certain set of skills and patience to tackle.

Your pets are unpredictable and fast (unless you have a snail or a turtle). This provides you with all of the subject matter you need to improve. But, it will test your skills as a photographer.

Some photographers step away from this natural, candid state and opt for portraits. People are much easier to direct than an animal.

Luckily, pets will do most things for a snack or treat. These might be your own pets, or, if you decide to try out pet photography as a business, pets that belong to another family.

Cute pet portrait of a cat relaxing

Camera Equipment

How to Pick the Right Lens for Pet Photography

Lenses are what make your photograph what it is. A differential focus comes from the aperture on your piece of glass. The wider the aperture, the less of the scene will be in focus.

The background becomes more and more blurry because of the shallow depth of field.  This adds interest to your image and cuts out distractions.

A wide-angle lens offers you a broader perspective of the scene. They can cause distortions, but it can be beneficial for pet portraits, as it can capture more from the scene.

A telephoto lens lets you shoot from a distance, which is less distracting for your pets. Also, they cause less distortion than wide-angles do.

Try macro lenses to capture extremely sharp details in your photos!

Having a few different lenses will give your photography more flexibility.

Cute pet portrait of a dog with a camera

6 Reasons Why You Should Use a Telephoto Lens for Pet Photography

A telephoto lens is a great way to capture scenes without being in the immediate area.

This is a great way to stay out of your pets’ zone to capture those candid shots. It prevents your pet to be distracted by you, your camera or noises that your camera makes.

This is also a great way to deal with shy or unruly dogs. It allows the pets to keep their distance.

Telephoto lenses also produce a natural perspective free of distortion and a shallow depth of field.

Three dogs running on a beach shot with a telephoto lens

Using a Prime Lens for Pet Photography – Pros and Cons

A prime lens means that the focal length is fixed. You can’t zoom with this type of lens, instead, you will have to move yourself to tighten or loosen your framing.

What a prime lens can offer you is quality and a wide aperture. The wide aperture is perfect for low light situations and getting that small area in focus.

Prime lenses are also smaller than zoom lenses, so they make it easy to move around. This is beneficial for example when you are hiking with your dog.

a cute pug dog resting on a couch
Photo by Taya Ivanova

What’s In a Pet Photographer’s Bag

A pet photographer will have more in their bag than just the camera kit. There are accessories they will need to use, such as an off-camera flash and camera cleaning kit.

To get the attention of pets outdoors, toys and treats will make you approachable. They will also take direction if they know they will get something out of it.

Business cards are also a great idea. You might encounter other pet owners while you’re on a shoot. They are potential clients if you do this for a living.

Extras of everything ensure you won’t miss that shot. You don’t want to cut a session short because a lead snapped or your battery died.

Cute pet portrait of a cat relaxing in a camera case

Camera Settings

Best Exposure Settings for Pet Photography

Exposure, put simply, is the amount of light that enters your camera and hits your sensor.

The correct settings depend on the lighting conditions, the weather and the kind of photos you’d like to take during the session. This works just like when you are photographing humans.

If you prefer shallow depth of field, you should always have your aperture wide open and adjust the other setting to that.

Prepare in advance for sunny and cloudy days as well with our article. Keep in mind what settings to use during the golden hour or in uneven lighting. Learn the differences between having a photo session outdoors and in a studio.

Cute pet portrait of a dog catching a frisbee
Photo by Tamara Kedves

How To Photograph Your Pets

Pet Photography Cheat Sheet: Easy Tips to Follow

A cheat sheet is there to make sure you have all the hints for what you want to photograph.

Our cheat sheet here will run down all of the things you need to know about pet photography. It covers all the areas you’ll need for the best images.

If you want to include your dog in a family portrait, use a staircase. Sit on one step with the dog in front, on a separate row.

You will also benefit from having treats and a toy, to minimize distractions.

All of the lists are here, no matter what pet photography you want to create.

Cute pet portrait of two kittens relaxing

One Light Pet Photography Portraits

Most photographers instantly run outdoors to photograph animals. But there are many benefits of photographing your pet indoors.

Natural light is great for outdoor shoots, but for indoors, you might need more. An off-camera flash or strobe is your key to adding more light.

Your light source can be a softbox or a LED strip. You can use them in several ways. Set your small pet photography studio at home and experiment with different angles and settings.

This will allow you to have the perfectly lit photos of your pet. No matter if it’s a cat, a dog or something else.

Cute pet photography of a dog indoors
Photo by Tamara Kedves

How To Take Pet Photography With Your Smartphone

Smartphone pet photography can be a great way to capture precious moments. It is the gadget you have with you most of, if not all the time.

Try different photo editing apps, and make the most of natural light.

When it comes to photographing anything, you need to look for different perspectives. Try photographing from your pet’s eye-level to make them feel comfortable. Also, to enhance more the personality of the animal.

Use simple backgrounds to avoid unflattering photos, and always focus on the eyes of the pet.

Never use a flash, as it can be distracting. And always be patient during the photo shoot, your furry friend is going to need that.

You don’t have to expect professional photographs from your smartphone, but you can definitely have fun while shooting!

Cute pet photography of a fluffy white bunny

How to Get Amazing Dog Photography Action Shots

Taking action shots of your dog is a challenging area. But if you are prepared, you can capture nice and funny memories.

Animals are unpredictable, fast and sometimes clumsy. They also don’t think about their expressions or the pictures of them.

You need a fast shutter speed to freeze the moment.

Also, pay attention to your composition in your pictures. Leave more negative space to create movement.

Don’t be afraid to direct the owner of the dog to help to make it look more athletic in the pictures.

You have great freedom with these shots, but you should always put safety first during the photo shoot.

Cute pet photography of a dog running
Photo by Tamara Kedves

30 Unique Animal Photography Examples to Inspire You

Looking to capture unique images? Then you’re in the right place. Here, we have 30 of the best examples of animals at their best. You are going to love them! Use them to get the most out of your pet photography.

You don’t necessarily have to look for inspiration by looking at pet photos. Wild animals can behave and pose quite similarly to pets, and pet photographers can use it well in their photographs.

A close up of a cheetah rubbing her face

10 Tips to Improve Your Pet Photography

The difficulty of photographing animals comes from our inability to communicate with them, and their often unpredictable nature. You should always learn new things and try to improve your work as a pet photographer.

Choose the right gear, try to compose the images perfectly. Always be patient and bring toys with you to the photo session to make sure the pet enjoys it.

Another area to look at within pet photography is the rate at which you capture. This can have a huge impact on your work. Burst mode and continuous focus are the stresses here.

Our tips will guide you through the basics, and you can bring your personality to them.

Cute pet photography of a white dog indoors
Photo by Tamara Kedves

15 Dog Photography Tips for Perfect Pet Portraits!

To get the most from your dog photography, you need to know when your dog is active throughout the day. A lot depends on its personality and habits.

When they are calmer and more relaxed, this is a perfect time for portraits.

The action shots come when they have an abundance of energy. Schedule and plan around these times, depending on the shots you want.

Capturing the owner-pet relationship, finding inspiration in natural poses or getting on the dog’s eye level also ideas you should consider.

Cute pet photography of a black dog among purple flowers
Photo by Tamara Kedves

15 Tips For Taking Beautiful Horse Photography

Cats and dogs are the most common pets. But some people have horses!

Horses can be a challenge to photograph as they are (generally) much bigger than the average dog. They have different behaviours and need to be treated differently.

You should start by getting comfortable with horses while you always pay attention to safety.

Burst mode and continuous focus will make your job easier. You should be careful with using flash, in fact, the best is to avoid it. You wouldn’t want to scare the horses.

Don’t forget detail shots, choose your background wisely and try capturing some action photos. This way your photo session is going to become diverse. Horse owners are going to love it!

Close up of a brown horses face

11 Tips for Improving Your Cat Photography Skills

Cats are a little more difficult to photograph than dogs. They make their own waves.

If you find they are happy with their location, move around. Capture them from different angles and perspectives to add that punch to your series.

Use a semi-automatic mode and try continuous shooting mode. Focus on details, like the eyes or the paws.

As cats are very nimble creatures with a lot of personalities, your photography will benefit from a multitude of angles and ideas.

Be patient and always be ready! Cats can be really funny and you wouldn’t want to miss their best moments.

Cute pet photography of a tabby cat on a bed

How To Make Use of Perspective in Pet Photography

There is one simple way to make your images interesting, and keep them separated from the crowd.

Most people with a camera tend to photograph at their eye level.

That is never going to show a subject or scenario in an interesting light. This is because we all see the world from that same angle.

Get down on the ground and photograph that puppy at his eye level. Or shoot from down below or up above. Experiment with different angles, with different compositions and different lenses.

Your viewers, rarely, if at all, see the world from these perspectives.

Cute pet photography of a dog outdoors
Photo by Tamara Kedves

How to Get Creative With Pet Portraits

Even if you’re not a professional photographer, you can take wildly creative pet portraits with the help of these tips.

Invite your pet’s best friend! Interactions with other dogs or cats or any other species can look cute in your photos.

You can try costumes as long as they are comfortable for the pet. Try enhancing its personality or you can even make it look like you.

Also, don’t be afraid to manipulate your images and use Photoshop if your idea requires it.

Everyone’s going to love your creative photographs!

Cute pet photography of a dog outdoors by a lantern
Photo by Tamara Kedves

20 Adorable Pet Photography Ideas to Inspire You

We all need some inspiration from time to time. It helps to see what other people have come up with. It might give you the perfect idea.

Pinterest is also a great place to look. There are hundreds of thousands of cat’s in all sorts of poses, from all kinds of perspectives.

You shouldn’t necessarily copy them. Try to twist and form them to your own personal style!

Close up of a horses eye

7 Tips for Photographers Working With Difficult Pets

Pets are like furry children. They won’t always do what you want.

You have to identify the problem if you find a pet difficult to work with.

A tired dog is a good dog. They will sit still for longer and won’t feel the need to dash off at a moment’s notice. Ask the owner to tire out their pet before the photo session.

A telephoto lens or trying a new perspective or composition is a great help to anyone dealing with difficult pets.

Toys and treats can also save you from a lot of headaches!

Cute pet photography of a wolf like dog outdoors
Photo by Anabel DFlux

Pet Photography Business

6 Things to Keep in Mind Before Starting a Pet Photography Business

A pet photography business is a great idea if you find you like photographing animals.

Talent will always be the number one rule to success, but you can’t survive on talent alone.

You need to take your business seriously, as a lot depends on how you build it up.

Sharing your images on your own website is a start. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are the next steps. Social media is the area that you need to own, without going overboard.

But of course, you have to pay attention to the law, have a working business plan and always improve yourself.

Cute pet photography of a womans playing with two dogs outdoors
Photo by Tamara Kedves

Taking Pictures of Pets Will Make You a Better Photographer (Here’s How!)

By practising pet photography, you can become more patient, determined, creative, and spontaneous.

Also, you’ll easily know when to press the shutter and how to solve any occurring problem. You’ll have a better eye to document relationships and you’ll find opportunities everywhere.

The more you learn, the closer you are to understanding the animals. In turn, you become closer to them, finding it easier to represent them on screen. Purrfect.

These skills then can be adapted to any other field of photography. Not only your pet photography business is going to benefit from practising.

Cute pet photography of a rabbit outdoors


People love their pets and love showing them off. Instagram and any other platform of social media are full of portraits of dogs or cats, or even less common animals, like rabbits.

We all love looking at these images, as they can cheer anyone up.

Always focus on the personality of the animals. You can photograph them in natural light, or in a pet photography studio, find different tricks and get creative. Our pet photography tips are going to help you on this road.

Perfect Pawtraits
Perfect Pawtraits
Capture stunning pet photos with this project-based ebook and cheat sheets, helping you get the perfect shot every time.
Buy from ExpertPhotography
Show Comments (3)