10 Tips For Better Pet Photography

Professional pet photographers make it look so easy! Anyone who has tried to photograph their own pet knows how challenging this can be! Here are some pet photography tips that you can use to help you get the perfect shot

If you’re relaxed so will your pet!
  1. Relax. Your pet can sense if you’re nervous or uptight. A stressed animal will give you ‘ears flattened’, ‘concerned eyes’ look, which doesn’t look good. Take a deep breath and remember to have fun with it!
Focus on the eyes

2. Focus n the eyes and expressions. Just like in photos of humans, we always look at the eyes first. The eyes are the most expressive part of an animal’s face. So if you want to create really engaging portraits, focus on their eyes.

Clean up the area

3. Clean up the area. Plan where you want to photograph your pet and make sure it has plenty of light (natural works best – near a window) and tidy it up. Try to avoid distracting and vivid colored objects unless it’s your pet’s favorite.

Get down to their level

4. Photograph at their level. Get down to their level and try some portraits at their eye level. Yes, that might mean getting down and dirty! Or in this case, licked to death!

Photographing your pet near a window makes for great light

5. Go to the light. Light is always important along with great expressions.  You want to be able to see the catchlight’s in the pet’s eyes (the white reflective parts). Avoid photographing in dark rooms. Outside is best but avoid bright sunlight as it tends to flatten the image. Shady spots or anyplace where the light is diffused are ideal

Have treats handy

6. Keep treats handy. Every model wants and needs some motivation to pay attention to you during the photoshoot. Otherwise, they will wander off and become distracted.

Plan ahead

7. Plan ahead. Create a concept and a shot list ahead of time. Sure you’re probably not going to get every photograph you plan on but you’ll be ahead of the game. Go to Pinterest or any image gallery and search on “dog/cat/your pet portraits/photographs and see what others have done that you love. There are some great options with holiday themes!

Quiet and calm

8. Quiet and Calm. This goes along with the Relax tip. Avoid giving multiple commands at them repeatedly. This tends to confuse some pets. Try communicating with your pet the way they do to each other – non verbally. Use hand signals or point to invite them ‘over here’.

Move slowly

9. Move slowly. This goes along with the Relax and Quiet and Calm tips. Unless you want action photos of your pet, move in a slow manner to avoid getting your pet all stirred up. If your goal is to get some natural photos of them doing their own thing, this is important as you don’t want to disturb them


10. Patience. Applies to life in general but like anything else is a virtue. If you are patient enough, your pet will end up being relaxed and you will have more opportunities to get a nice photograph.

What tips do you have? Leave a comment below to share with others!

10 Tips on how to prepare for your session (for girls)

Dance portraits of Amy. Part of the series “Dancers in unusual locations.” Photo by Dave Dabour

Preparation Tips for Senior Girls

Now that you’ve booked your session, we have a few tips for you to help you get ready for your close up. Follow these guidelines the weeks leading up to your session and we’ll take care of the rest!

  1. Choose two to three outfits to wear during your session and lay them out so they are ready to go. Make sure they are clean and wrinkle-free.
  2. Also, don’t forget to pack any accessories you’ll want for each outfit – jewelry, scarves, headbands, etc. Bring matching socks/tights, and shoes for each outfit if one pair won’t go along with all of them.
  3. While you’re at it, if you plan on bringing any props – your ballet shoes, favorite book, softball gear, etc. – go ahead and lay that out as well. If you are going to bring your car to the session and want it to be in photos with you, be sure to wash it the night before/day of your session.
  4. Get a good night’s rest the night before so you can look well rested for your session.
  5. Get your hair cut about one to two weeks prior to your session. Don’t drastically change it from your normal style in case you don’t like it. Have the hair stylist show you some easy styles you can do during outfit changes to switch it up a bit.
  6. Practice your makeup the week leading up to your session so you can get it just right the day of. We do offer professional makeup artist services with several of our packages. This is something we strongly suggest you look into for your session.
  7. If you wake up two days prior to your session, or the morning of, and acne has appeared on your face – don’t pick at it and make it worse while trying to get rid of it. Apply some makeup over the area (not too heavy) and leave it at that. We offer basic retouching, which includes blemish removal; so don’t even worry about it.
  8. Get a manicure the day before or day of your session to ensure your nails look their best. Don’t forget that the color needs to match all of your outfits. For this reason, and to keep a clean appearance, we suggest going with the French manicure or just a clear coat of paint.
  9. Practice a nice natural smile and cute poses in a mirror or send us over some things we can talk to you about that will help you relax – your favorite movie, your boyfriend, etc.
  10. If you are doing a session with your BFF or BF, don’t forget to coordinate an outfit with them so you guys don’t clash.

Tip #3 For Better Indoor Sports Photography

In our previous tips, we talked about the importance of setting the camera to shutter priority, and what aperture setting to choose as well as suggestions for lenses.

Tip #3 is ISO settings on the camera. There are basically three things that you or the camera need in order to take a basic picture: shutter speed (how fast), aperture setting (how wide should the lens open) and lastly what ISO setting to use (how sensitive to light).


For sports I generally recommend setting your camera to Auto ISO if it supports that. If it doesn’t then set your camera to the highest (largest number) ISO setting possible. You will notice more “noise” as you increase the ISO on your camera. The trade off is if you use a lower ISO the indoor action photo could be blurry or dark. I’d rather have a slightly noisy photo that is exposed well and freezes the action. There are several photo processing programs today that can reduce or eliminate noise in digital photos afterwards.


Some cameras have a H1 and an H2 setting for ISO. These have to be selected in the camera’s menu and allow the camera to take picture in even lower light. These tend to be more noisy that just using the highest ISO setting possible in your camera.

There are a few more things you can do to make sure you get the shot. Come back for more tips!

Tip #2 For Better Indoor Sports Photos

In yesterday’s tip we talked about setting your camera in shutter priority mode and setting a fast shutter speed of 1/800 or faster if possible.

Today’s tip #2 is to set your aperture (f stop) as wide open as possible (lower number). You can find how wide your lens will open usually on the front of the lens:


In the above example it’s the numbers after 1: so in this case it’s 3.5-5.6. There being two numbers means it’s a range. The aperture of this particular lens will not stay the same at all focal (zoom) ranges– it all depends on how far zoomed in or out you are. For this lens it means when I have it set wide (18 mm) it will have an aperture of 3.5 (which is good for low light) but if I have it zoomed all the way out to 135mm it will only be 5.6 (which is so-so for low light). This above lens is a typical “kit” lens that comes with your camera if you purchased it with a lens included. Different cameras come with different lenses.


As I stated above, wider (lower number) is better for low light situations. This is my “bread and butter” lens when I’m photographing indoor sports and I can get close to the action. This lens opens all the way up to 2.8. Since there is only one number, it can stay at this opening over it’s entire range (in this case 24-70mm).

So by now you’re saying I’ll just go out and buy lenses with 2.8 aperture. That’s great and will help you tremendously BUT they are more expensive than typical lenses. But these lenses, if taken care of, will last you a lifetime for the manufacturer and camera mount they are intended for.

So in review we have Shutter priority with a setting of 1/800 or higher if possible and use your lens that opens the widest. This will let in the most light and freeze action.

But what happens if that’s not enough and your pictures are still dark? That will be tip #3.

Tip #1 For Better Indoor Sports Photos

A friend recently contacted me seeking advice on how to create better indoor sports photos. I passed on some tips and thought this would make a good series for my blog. If you agree and want to see more let me know!

Photographing sports outside during the day is relatively easy. You just have to find a good angle and click away.

Indoor sports is a different animal completely. It looks bright enough to our eyes but they can see more range of light than our cameras. Plus the quality of the light isn’t as good as daylight.

So what to do? Tip #1 is to put your camera in shutter priority mode. If you’re not comfortable with that or if it doesn’t support that then put it into action or sports mode.


On my cameras (Canon) it’s the Tv setting. Once you have it set for that then set the shutter speed to at least 1/800 of a second. Some sports will need it faster to stop the action. But the challenge here is you need more light since the shutter will only be open for a fraction of a second (1/800th of a second in this case). Making this change will stop your pictures from being as blurry.

Ok so now you do that but the pictures are dark, now what? Tune in for the next tip Winking smile