Taking Your Own Pet Portraits

by BrendaReeves

If you've always wanted a professional portrait of your pet but couldn't afford it, you've come to the right place.

Many people cannot afford to hire a professional photographer to get a professional looking portrait of their pet. However, they can have that portrait.Digital camera technology makes it easier than ever to immortalize family pets, but you don't need a fancy camera. By following a few simple tips, novice photographers can take that photograph themselves. Practice these steps, and it will become second nature to you.


First decide what mood to depict of the dog. A funny photo can be impromptu or posed, such as placing glasses on the dog. Note that the photographer got down at eye level with the to shoot the photo. For a professional looking portrait, try to get at eye level with the animal.



Dog at Eye Level
Dog at Eye Level
James Baker

Posed or Impromtu Photos

To get those impromptu shots, always have the camera ready to shoot, at home, in the car, or even in the pocket. The newer digital cameras are pocket size. There shouldn't be a problem taking a posed photo of a trained and well behaved dog. Take the photograph at a time of day when the dog is at its most relaxed state. If the photo calls for the dog to look alert, use treats to entice him. If need be, ask a friend to assist in getting that posed photo.


For any photo, bright natural light is best. Pay attention to the background. Don't take that perfect dog photo only to discover the trash cans are in the shot. A dog with a visually busy coat will look best against a solid background.


Pay attention to composition while photographing. Once the photo is loaded into the computer, ask yourself if there are any extraneous details in the photo detracting from the intended subject, if so try to crop it out. If it can't be cropped out, an important lesson has been learned: Check composition before clicking. Use different angles. Taking photos straight on all the time gets boring. Hold the camera at an angle or stand at an angle while taking the shot.

For those who have given no more thought to taking photos than point and click, think about the basics: the next time a photo is taken of the family dog.

  • Remember to have that camera ready
  • Natural light is best
  • Mood desired
  • Composition before clicking
  • Posed or Impromptu

Naturally, when taking an impromptu shot, there isn't time to worry about composition and lighting. The mood is already determined. However, digital photography advances enable the photographer to make some corrections on the computer. These easy steps of pet photography just might turn out the professional looking photograph. Animal photography is fun and with practice the novice photographer will soon be just as good as the professional.

Updated: 02/05/2013, BrendaReeves
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BrendaReeves on 11/20/2012

Thanks for the comment. My dog doesn't like having the camera pointed at him.

teddletonmr on 11/20/2012

Our lab is a big camera hog, takes great pictures.

BrendaReeves on 11/16/2012

Thanks. That reminds me, I got a great shot of my cat that I need to upload.

katiem2 on 11/16/2012

I hear ya, I could take pictures all day long. There really is no reason to take your pet to a professional photographers.

BrendaReeves on 11/15/2012

Thank you, Mira. He's a lovable little guy too.

BrendaReeves on 11/15/2012

That is the best way to take a picture. Thanks for the comment, Lana.

Mira on 11/15/2012

Jasper is pretty cute! I love the photo! :)

Ragtimelil on 11/15/2012

lol I don't stand very often when taking a portrait. Too many people take them from a stand looking down at the dog. Most of the time I get down to the dog's level like that pic of the dog lying down.

BrendaReeves on 11/15/2012

lol! I've got many photos of my pets, but they weren't taken with these tips. Actually, the thumbnail at the top is my dog, Jasper. Thanks for the comment.

BrendaReeves on 11/15/2012

Thank you Katie. I take a lot of pet pictures too. My cat, Josephine is always doing something funny, and I try to capture it.

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