10 Top Tips for Perfect Pet Pawtraits

Kitten playingCamera phone full of blurry photos of your cat being adorable? Late to work because you couldn’t get a decent #nofilter snap of your rabbits having breakfast? Favourite shoes ruined because you just had to photograph the cheeky look on your puppy’s face before you could rescue his newly discovered chew toy? If you’re anything like us, you probably feel like you spend half your life trying to get your furry family members to pose for a photo, or even frequently find yourself chasing strangers’ pets down the street with your camera at the ready!

Our pets are such a massive part of our lives that it’s no wonder we spend so much time trying to capture their crazy antics and cute expressions on film, then showing them off proudly to absolutely everyone we know. Boss, taxi driver, dentist… nobody is safe! The 2011 Petplan Pet Census found that around a third of pet owners carry a sneaky snap of their pet in their wallet, 30% display fluffy pawtraits on their desk at work, and 40% share their pet photos online – but, to be honest, we’re so pet-mad at zooplus that we’re surprised those figures aren’t even higher.

Animals aren’t always the best, most patient models, so getting the perfect photo of your pet can be a bit of a challenge. That’s why we’ve gathered our 10 top tips for getting snap happy with your pets:

Dog outdoord1. Let their personality shine:
The best photos capture the little things that make your pet special, so find a way to bring a bit of their unique character into your shots. If your cat’s a real 24/7 daydreamer, try snapping them in bed or wrapped up in a snuggly blanket. For hyperactive dogs, head to the park with a favourite toy for some personality-filled action shots.

2. Location, location, location:
Furry models are more likely to cooperate if they’re somewhere they feel comfortable and safe. Shooting on location can also be a nice way to commemorate some of your fondest memories of your pet, such as a favourite walk or long summer afternoons relaxing together on the patio.

3. Get up close and personal:
Photographing at close range is a great way to get more detail in your shot, from funny facial expressions to distinctive physical characteristics. You can also get an interesting shot by focusing in on a smaller part of your pet’s face, such as their whiskers or big, heart-melting eyes. This is obviously more practical with a calm-tempered or older pet (and even easier still if your subject is asleep!), but zooming in can help you to get the same effect with a more active pet.

Rabbit in a play tunnel4. See the world through their eyes:
Capture a glimpse of what life looks like from your pet’s perspective by getting right down on their level, rather than shooting them from above. We can’t promise you won’t get a bit of teasing from your friends and family for crawling around on the floor with your camera, but it’s definitely worth it to give your photos a more personal feel.


5. Put your pet centre stage:

You want all eyes to be on your pet, so make sure that the background of your photograph is free from distracting details. Look for simple backdrops, such as a plain wall or even the sky, or, if you’re extra nifty, you can use your camera settings to create a blurred background wherever you are when your pet decides to strike a pose (not that we’re saying your home is ever anything other than perfectly tidy, of course…!).

Dog with KONG toy6. Flash is never your friend:
Flash photography can be a bit of a scary experience for nervous pets, especially when you’re moving in for a close-up. Even animals with nerves of steel can find the camera flash distracting, and you’re likely to end up with some seriously spooky red-eye. Instead, try to use natural light as much as possible. Head for the outdoors or position your subject by a well-lit window if they’re reluctant to go out in the cold.

7. The power of bribery:
Unless you’re Doctor Dolittle, you’re never going to be able to explain to your pet what on earth you’d doing with that camera or why you’d love it if they could just tilt their head a touch more to the left. This is where a little bit of bribery can sometimes come in handy. Hold your pet’s favourite toy or a tasty treat exactly where you want them to look, then reward them at the end of the shoot for a job well done.

Cat in a basket8. Go for the element of surprise:
Another way to trick your pet into posing for a great shot is to let them do their own thing, then whistle or call their name. This sudden noise will catch your pet’s attention, giving you just enough time to snap them in a nice, alert pose before they go back to studiously ignoring you or scratching the sofa.


9. Creatures of habit:

Knowing your pet’s character and normal routine will help you to anticipate a good photo opportunity, so you can lie-in wait for your cat paparazzi-style somewhere along their morning patrol route, or get the camera ready when your water-loving pup spots a massive puddle up ahead.

10. Try, try and try again:
The most important thing to remember when it comes to pet photography is just to stay patient. However excitable or uncooperative your pet might become when they spot a camera, we promise that eventually they’re just going to relax, letting you get the perfect pawtrait.

Have you got any handy hints for taking adorable animal photos? Let us know in the comments and share your favourite snaps – we can never get enough of seeing your pets!

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