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How to Take Professional Looking Pet Photos on Your Phone

Updated on April 23, 2013
The final shot after editing.
The final shot after editing.
Introducing the pet to the picture area. A few seed treats have been discreetly placed around the prop.
Introducing the pet to the picture area. A few seed treats have been discreetly placed around the prop.
The pet explores the space- a white pillowcase taped to a computer chair- and prop.
The pet explores the space- a white pillowcase taped to a computer chair- and prop.
Many of the shots- like this one- will be blurry and useless, but it's important to take a lot to make sure you get that one good one.
Many of the shots- like this one- will be blurry and useless, but it's important to take a lot to make sure you get that one good one.
Here's the one I chose to use.
Here's the one I chose to use.
Snapseed is a great app for the "selective adjust" tool. Place the brightening circles all around the background.
Snapseed is a great app for the "selective adjust" tool. Place the brightening circles all around the background.
Here is the Instagram version of the final picture with the caption "Kingsley is planning an adventure."
Here is the Instagram version of the final picture with the caption "Kingsley is planning an adventure."
Here is another example of a prop to use- a vintage toy car. You can follow Kingsley the bird on Instagram at @sincerelymicah
Here is another example of a prop to use- a vintage toy car. You can follow Kingsley the bird on Instagram at @sincerelymicah

Pets are important to us, which means it's also important to capture them on camera- which can be hard to do without the picture looking blurry or poor quality. I'm going to go over a couple of ways that you can control the actions of your pet during a photoshoot, as well as how to set up and edit the shot to look professionally done - just using your phone!

First, you'll need to set up a sort of background. I like to use a plain white background. For a larger animal such as a dog, a white sheet would work best- while smaller animals might only need a white pillowcase or dish towel. Find a way to secure the sheet or pillowcase to a wall, so that half of it is up against the wall with the rest flat on the floor. For a smaller animal, you might choose to set this up on a chair to create a portable picture studio. You can secure it to the wall or chair using masking tape.

Once you have this set up, bring in any props you might like to use. For a smaller animal, it can be fun to set up dollhouse furniture or miniature items that are closer to their size, creating a cute, whimsical feel. You might choose to just photograph your pet alone.

Lighting is the most important part. Set up your picture area in a place with as much natural light from a window as possible. For a well-trained pet, you might even consider setting things up outside. If that's not an option for your pet, set up the area right in front of a big window. If the picture is too dark, any movement from your pet will result in a fuzzy picture. To fix this, set up a "sun lamp" that creates natural-looking light above your area. You can use normal lamps or other indoor lighting, but they tend to cast harsh light and warp coloring.

Getting your pet to stay still might be a problem, and this is where you'll want to bring in the treats. A dog should be given a command such as "sit" or "stay" and know that you have something to reward them with. A smaller animal that is untrained will be tricky, but chances are they will follow your hand movements. Put them into the shot at the very last moment possible, and snap as many pictures as you can while they remain in the area. Scatter a couple of their favorite treats in discreet areas of the shot so that they will explore the space and remain there longer.

Look through your pictures that you have taken. It is likely that many of them will not be what you're looking for, but you only need one good one. Try again with your pet until you have that one perfect shot out of the several mess-ups. Once you've got it, reward your pet. It's time to move on to editing.

The program I use for these types of pictures is Snapseed. It's helpful because it lets you adjust certain areas of the picture rather than the whole. In Snapseed, choose the "selective adjust" option, tap the circle to where you want it and scroll to the right to move the brightness all the way up. Place these full brightness circles all around the image of your pet until you run out- at which point you can save the progress and start the selective adjust again. You may also need to brighten up your pet, and maybe add a little saturation to heighten his/her coloring. Keep brightening the background until it is bright white and all the wrinkles and shadows at the back have disappeared. If you still have some left, you can always open another editing app such as PE-Fotolr (free) that will allow you to draw over the picture. Use white to draw over the rest of the imperfections in the background.

When you're satisfied with your picture, share it on Facebook or Instagram and show off how cute your pet is- and what a savvy photographer you've become.

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