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  • Phil Davenport

It's a Dog's Life

Updated: Sep 17

Pet photography is a mix of portrait photography, sports photography and child photography all rolled into one — but you don’t have to become an expert on each one (or become a professional pet photographer) to learn how to take better images of pets with a few pet photography tips.


Use a fast shutter speed, continuous focus, and burst mode.

Here’s where the sports photography comes in. Since many pets have a hard time sitting still, use a fast shutter speed. Set your camera to shutter priority mode or manual mode and use a shutter speed of at least 1/250 if possible, and even faster for action shots of a game of fetch. Turning the burst mode on will take a sequence of fast shots to up the odds of getting a perfectly-timed shot. Prevent soft images by using continuous autofocus mode, not single.


Shoot from their eye level, not your own.

Portraits are all about the eyes even when that portrait subject isn’t a person. While there are a few exceptions, getting down on the animal’s eye level will create more personal pet portraits, as it brings out unique personalities and highlights a more intimate perspective. If you shoot from your eye level, the pet will look smaller and it will be harder to look into Fido’s eyes in the shot.

To really make those puppy dog eyes pop, make sure the camera focuses on the eyes by using single point autofocus area and moving the focal point over one of the pet’s eyes. Using natural light like a window also tends to make the eyes sparkle without risking red eye.


Work in play and interaction.

If Fido never sits still, why try photographing him that way every time? While still pet portraits have their place, mix it up by capturing the animal at play. Capture a dog playing fetch, digging, rolling, playing or giving a family member kisses. Try photographing a cat watching raindrops out the window, playing with a toy, or trying to fit in that too-small box.


Animal subjects are one of the most difficult to get in pictures — but borrowing a few helpful tips from sports and portrait photographers allows for sharp pet photos full of personality. With camera settings designed for moving subjects, the right light, some treats and a few other pet photography tips, capturing pets on camera becomes less challenging and more fun.


Filming with the:

Canon EOS 6D Mark II Digital SLR https://amzn.to/3fWtXNP

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens https://amzn.to/2TgVEXX

Hand held photography with the Joby Gorillapod 5K Video Pro: https://amzn.to/3fZVUUS


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© 2020 By Phil Davenport