9 Ways to Take Better Pet Photos


takebetterphotosTips for the phone-camera amateur

By Ellington Starks  |  Photography by Kelvin Andow

One of the great things about being a pet lover is meeting others with the same passion, listening to them talk about their best friend and seeing the pictures they’ve taken. With cell phone cameras, everybody has the ability to take pictures. Want a leg up (well, not literally) on taking better pet photos? Here are  nine tips from photography pros. 

1  Don’t just stand there and photograph from your normal standing height, says Shawn Fagan of Fagan Studios. “Get down on their level, get lower or shoot from straight above. Work those different angles to create an interesting photograph.”

Eva Hagel, of Grape Soda Photography, agrees. “Getting down on the ground with them will allow you to see how they see and capture them in their most natural setting.”

2  Eliminate distractions.
An outdoor area full of people or an indoor space with activity can be distracting, Hagel says. “The more comfortable they are, the more relaxed they are, and you are going to get a better picture.”

3  Consider light. When shooting outdoors, choose earlier morning or later evening, Hagel suggests. “Mid-day light can be super harsh.” Inside, pick a room with the most natural light. “It will produce softly-lit images and avoid harsh shadows.”

4  Get to know your camera. There are amazing features on phone cameras, Kelvin Andow of Andow Photography says. “For example, on the Samsung 5S, with your camera screen open, touch the symbol in the upper left corner. This symbol opens the camera’s tool box, or settings. Knowing just a couple of these will help you improve your ability to get better photos of your pet.”

Andow suggests two settings that will help you get better images of your subject: Metering Modes and Exposure Compensation. The Metering Modes setting optimizes exposure for the most important part of the photo. Exposure Compensation allows you to brighten a backlit subject (adjust to a positive value) or temper a bright subject when shot against a dark background (adjust to a negative value).

 Shift the shutter setting. A moving pet will be hard to photograph, which means you’ll need a fast shutter speed. “Rules were made to be broken, though, so try using a slow shutter speed and pan with the running dog to blur the background,” Fagan says.

6  Slow it down. “We love to change our iPhone to SloMo, toss a frisbee or ball, and record as our dog Maya is hustling back to us,” Fagan says. “The SloMo looks awesome with her ears flapping and dew flying off the grass.”

 Go the distance. Increase the distance between the subject and the background. “When the subject is in focus and the background is not, what’s in focus stands out,” Andow says.

 Forget perfection. Not every picture has to be perfect, Hagel says. “Some of the most imperfect captures I get are my favorite.”

 Capture the moments. My wife loves to photograph our dog first thing in the morning when our Chocolate Lab/Border Collie mix lies down in the fresh morning light,” Fagan says. “Get down on the dog’s level, fill your frame, get a detail shot of their nose atop their paw.”