Get the Perfect Pet Portrait Without a Photographer

When you're the owner of a beloved pet, you will undoubtedly take thousands of pictures of them. But how many of those pictures are truly great photos? If you've ever wished for more professional-looking snaps of your furry family member, we can help. Read on for some tips for becoming your pet's personal photographer.

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Consider the Background

This perfect little pup looks like a very good girl, but one of the reasons she looks so great is the setting. To get a professional-looking shot, your background matters. Granted, you may not to be able use a room that matches your loved one as well as this, but try to make sure the area is clear of visual distractions and clutter.


If there's one thing that's sure get a dog's attention it's treats! (Did somebody say treats?) Some may call this bribery, and you know what: it is. Surely one or two or five extra treats to get your fur baby looking where you want them to is worth it. Use the treat off camera just like you would when you want them to sit or lie down. Quickly take your shot while he's patiently waiting, then tell him what a good boy he is.

The Off-Camera Toy

Perhaps the number one pet photographer trick to having your buddy look at the camera is the squeaky toy. This works especially well if your pet is toy-motivated in general. Hold the toy in your non-camera hand just above camera itself and squeak or wiggle it to get his attention. If all goes well, you'll end up with a shot just like this.

The On-Camera Toy

Cat lovers, you know your darling felines are not the obedient creatures that dogs are. They do what they want to do when they want to do it. Because the off-camera toy trick may not work with them, try an on-camera one. Pick a wand toy with a feather attached to the end of it and drag it through the field of vision. Having a photographer's assistant and an attractive toy will help.

Sleepy Time

If your pet is the very active sort, you may want to wait to pull out your camera until she's sleepy. Trying to get the perfect shot while your dog is in motion is extra tricky, so taking advantage of their natural downtime could be the way to go. Throw a cozy blanket over her and get as close as you can without disturbing her. Even if she falls alseep, she'll come out looking like a dog model.

Put a Human in the Shot

While solo shots of your pet is great, having a picture of your pup with his humans can be even better. Try a set up like this one where the dog is the focus of the shot and his human is slightly out of focus in the background. If you're using a camera phone, tap the dog to establish the focus on him.

Costume Pics

Costumes can be a hotly debated topic for pet owners. Whether you're pro-costume ("ack! look how cute!") or anti-costume ("he doesn't look happy!") it's hard to deny that a picture of your little guy all dressed up is pretty memorable. For the three minutes he'll keep on that lion's mane, pull out your camera and go for a tight shot.

Try a Diptych

Get a frame-worthy work of art by making a diptych of your pet. A diptych is essentially two photographs edited together that tells a story about the subject. This photogenic bunny's story comes to life with the Peter-Rabbit themed photo below. Try a portrait and another photo with a visually similar background with a favorite toy or favorite person. Once you have the two shots you want to use, edit them together with smartphone or online software, then print and frame.

The Action Shot

If you're pretty good at still pictures of your pet and you want up your photography game a bit, go for an action shot. It's much harder to pull off since your furry friend is in motion, but try using a pull toy. You'll need an assistant to volunteer to play with your pal for this to work well. Have them play with the pull toy and set yourself up to slightly to the side so that your focus is up close on your pet. Snap your picture during a lull and you're sure to capture your pet's playful personality.

Portrait Mode

New smartphones have taken a lot of the guesswork out of creating a perfect portrait. Check the different photography settings on your phone and look for a portrait mode. The camera will automatically focus only on the subject and slightly blur everything outside of it. This is the key to making a portrait truly look like a professional photographer shot it.

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