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Creative Pet Photography

Updated on January 7, 2013

Dog Photography

A cute pug puppy by Edward M. Fielding
A cute pug puppy by Edward M. Fielding | Source

Tips for better lighting in pet photos

Depth of Field in Pet Photos

Let's start taking better pet photographs!

Have you ever been bored to tears by your friends "incredible" photographs of their pets? You know the ones that are dark, blurry and taken with a half a megapixel camera they won in a cereal box? Or the ones of their dog taking a leak or showing off their butt to the camera because their owner was too slow on the uptake? Bad lighting, half the head cropped out or poles growing out of their pets heads, we've all seen these terrible pet photographs.

When I set out to create my book "the Quotable Westie" my goal was to break the mold of terrible, uncreative, pet photography - the kind we see every single day on Facebook. The result was forty four pages of studio shots featuring my West Highlands White Terrier in various situations. I pick up baby clothing at my local thrift shop (LISTEN) which inspired the shoots. Especially when they had the Halloween clothing out last October.

I didn't stop when I finished the book. I kept on shooting and publishing a line of artwork for Fine Art America which features art prints, framed art and canvas prints from this growing collection of fine pet photography featuring my westie. You can see the collection here.

The collection spans from incredibly cute to funny to the down right surreal. But all of the images share several things in common:

  • The images are taken at the same level as the subject instead of the "down from human height" images you typically see.
  • All images are carefully lit. Real studio lighting is used not "red eye" inducing, under powered on camera flash.
  • All images are processed carefully in Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and OnOne Perfect Effects or Topaz Labs.

the Quotable Westie

More Tips for Photographing Pet Dogs

Here are my killer tips for getting better photographs of your dog or pet:

  • WAIT - Wait for the best moment to photograph your pet, you don't want them to be too excited or too sleepy.
  • TRAIN - Practice posing your dog and rewarding them with treats for a few days before setting off the strobes. My dog has come to love the studio and the flash units because he associates them with treats.
  • BE CREATIVE - Be creative with props, clothing, backgrounds. You don't have to dress your dog up like a human, you can pose them with a favorite toy or their bed. Look around your house for interesting backgrounds to uses.
  • USE OFF CAMERA FLASH - or use natural light but experiment with light coming from the side instead of from the camera which is not very flattering.
  • SOFTEN THE LIGHT - Use diffusers such as an old bed sheet or window light to diffuse the light and soften shadows and contrast.
  • POST PROCESSING - Shoot in RAW format and use software such as Adobe Lightroom to bring out the best in your images.
  • LOOK - Look at what others are doing in pet photography and try copying their ideas to learn their shots. Check out "Dogford Studios" on Facebook for ideas.


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