Pet Photography Tips:

How to Take Great Photos of Your Pet

From dogs and cats to snakes and spiders, pets are wonderful subjects for your camera. But how can you capture that perfect shot?

Product Specialist Lizzie James at Jessops has shared her top tips to help you level up your pet photography, as well as the best cameras for the job. So grab your camera and your pet and let’s get creative!

Contents

Pet photography tips

The best cameras for pet photography

Best all-rounder: Sony a7 IV

Best burst mode capabilities: Nikon Z 6II

Best budget option: Canon EOS R10

Pet photography tips

Be prepared

When it comes to photographing your pet, spontaneous moments are bound to happen, but if you're aiming for exceptional shots, a little bit of planning can take you a long way.

Lizzie explains: "Think about times when your pet is behaving in the way that you want to capture. Do you want to photograph your dog chasing after a ball, or perhaps you envision a relaxed portrait as they bask in the sun? Once you visualise your ideal shot and where it will come to life, you can then plan how you're going to make it happen."

"This planning allows you to adjust your camera settings so you're ready to go. For example, you can set the appropriate shutter speed to freeze fast movements during a ball chase or opt for a higher ISO setting to capture clear details when working in dimly lit environments."

"Plus, you can have your preferred lenses and accessories to hand, whether it's a wide-angle lens for action shots or a prime lens for portraits."

Focus on the eyes

They say the eyes are the window to the soul for a reason, you know.

"A well-focused gaze can instantly make your pet photos more engaging and emotionally captivating," says Lizzie. "It's the secret to capturing their unique personality!"

"To do this, look for a tiny square or dot in your camera's viewfinder or on the screen, and move it over your pet's eyes. Half-press your shutter button to activate the autofocus system and recompose your picture until you're happier with the composition. This ensures that your pet's eyes will be beautifully sharp when you take the photo."

Introduce their favourite toy or treats

"If you're photographing a pet, be prepared with treats and toys to get their attention and, hopefully, get them to sit still and pose for you," says Lizzie. "Holding a favourite toy or treat above your camera should get them to look in your direction for as long as you need!"

"Plus, if your dog has a bone they just can't be without or your cat goes crazy for their toy mouse, including them in the shot can add that extra touch of fun and personality."

Use continuous lighting

Here's a tip from Lizzie to avoid a common pet photography mistake: "Skip the camera flash when photographing your pet. Flash can startle and distress your furry friend, resulting in images that don't quite capture their true character."

"Instead, consider using continuous lighting options like LED panels. This steady and gentle illumination helps keep your pet calm, ensuring you capture their everyday behaviours. Unlike flash, they also operate silently, avoiding any sudden noises that could spook your pet. Plus, continuous lighting mimics soft, natural daylight, making pet portraits appear more authentic and accurate to their unique colours and expressions."

"If you have sufficient natural lighting available, you may find that additional lighting isn't necessary, but it's always good to have these options in your photography toolkit!"

 

Try an action shot

Lizzie says, "If you have a speedy pet, like an energetic dog, why not give action shots a try? Just head to a secure spot, then have a friend take them away from you (within sight!) and call them towards you. If their recall's up to scratch, they'll come running towards you." 

"Just remember to use a fast shutter speed to capture pets in motion. You may need to experiment with your camera's shutter speed settings to find the right one. I find it's best to start with 1/1000 and adjust up or down until you find the one that suits the situation."

"If your camera has continuous autofocus, it's a game-changer. This handy feature automatically adjusts the focus distance as your pet moves, preventing any blurriness."

"Burst mode also comes in handy here, allowing you to snap a bunch of photos in quick succession by holding down the shutter button. But the good thing about dogs is that they're pretty much always excited to have another go if you missed the perfect shot the first time!"

Consider and experiment with composition

When photographing your pet, take a moment to consider the composition of the shot – how elements are arranged within the frame.

"One helpful guideline is the rule of thirds," explains Lizzie. "Imagine dividing your frame into a grid with two horizontal and two vertical lines. Try placing your pet along these lines or at their intersections to create a balanced and visually appealing composition. Also, be mindful of what appears in the background, as distracting elements can take the focus away from your pet."

"To capture the most natural look, make an effort to get down to your pet's level. Standing above a cat or dog may make them appear small and meek in your photos, while shooting at their eye level allows their personality to really shine through."

"You could even experiment with a more abstract shot, photographing a paw, an eye, or even just a pattern from their body. It could be interesting to collate together a series of these images for a fun collage or montage piece!"

Share your work

“Let's be honest; there's nothing better than getting compliments on your work,” says Lizzie. “Not only does sharing your photos with friends or on social media boost your confidence, but it's also an excellent way to identify areas where you can improve and grow.”

At Jessops, we love seeing your images! If you've captured a great pet moment, share it with us on Instagram with the #jessopsmoment hashtag for a chance to be featured.

Or why not set up your pet's own social media account where you can show off your new photography skills and get ideas from other pages?

The best cameras for pet photography

"When it comes to pet photography, having the right equipment can make a significant difference," explains Lizzie. "Investing in a good-quality digital camera with interchangeable lenses and manual settings gives you more creative control and the ability to capture stunning pet portraits." 

When selecting a digital camera for pet photography, keep an eye out for these essential features:

Autofocus – “Unless you're photographing slow-moving reptiles, you'll want a camera with fast and accurate autofocus that can keep up with your energetic pets," explains Lizzie. "Consider choosing a camera with animal eye autofocus for even more accuracy."

Burst mode – "This feature allows you to capture a rapid series of shots in quick succession, perfect for freezing those playful or high-speed moments," says Lizzie.

Resolution – "Opt for a camera with a higher resolution to capture sharper and more detailed images, allowing you to showcase your beloved pet in stunning clarity," says Lizzie. "This becomes particularly crucial if you intend to print your pet photographs and don't want to sacrifice image quality."

Lizzie talks us through some of the best camera options for pet photography at Jessops.

Best all-rounder: Sony a7 IV | £2,279

The Sony a7 IV Mirrorless Camera is the perfect choice for pet photography! 

"Sony's specialised Animal Eye AF quickly identifies your pet's eyes and keeps them in focus, guaranteeing those soulful gazes are beautifully captured," says Lizzie.

"Plus, with Real-time Tracking AF, you can lock onto your furry friend with a simple tap or half-press of the shutter.  This ensures that even small animals like hamsters or pets in low-light conditions stay perfectly in focus, no matter where they roam within the frame."

"With a large 33-megapixel back-illuminated sensor, your pet portraits will shine with crystal-clear detail."


To learn more, read our Sony Camera Buying Guide.

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Best burst mode capabilities: Nikon Z 6II | £2,099

The Nikon Z 6II, with its stunning 24.5-megapixel sensor, is the ultimate choice for capturing your furry friends in all their glory! 

Lizzie explains why: "With cutting-edge features like Animal-Detection AF, which ensures your pet stays in focus, and a fast continuous shooting speed of 14 frames per second, you'll never miss a playful moment."

"Plus, this camera boasts the ability to capture up to 200 JPEGs or 124 12-bit uncompressed RAW images in one burst. This allows you to take a rapid sequence of photos with a single press and hold of the shutter button. Perfect for action-packed pet photography sessions!"

"Its robust yet compact design is ideal for on-the-go photography, whether shooting your horse in a field or your dog splashing in muddy puddles."

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Best budget option: Canon EOS R10 | £999

Despite being an entry-level camera, the Canon EOS R10 is packed with impressive features that make it great for pet photography.

"With its lightning-fast and intelligent autofocus, it can recognise and track animals effortlessly. Burst mode becomes your best friend – enjoy up to 23 frames per second using the electronic shutter."

"This camera's autofocus is so smart that it can even find and focus on eyes when there are obstacles in the foreground, making it ideal for capturing your pets' playful antics."

"When there are multiple pets in the frame, the camera will focus on the closest subject. However, you can use the joystick to switch between them."

"Being a mirrorless camera, it offers versatile lens capabilities, allowing you to experiment with different ones. Whether you need a macro lens for up-close shots or a telephoto lens to capture those subjects in the distance, the possibilities are endless."

Read our Canon buying guide to learn more.

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Capture stunning images of your pet with Jessops

Whether you want to capture stunning images of your dog, cat, or even your chickens, at Jessops, we have a wide range of cameras, lenses and accessories like tripods and supports and lighting to level up your pet photography.

If you need more advice and inspiration, check out our blog. If you have any questions or you're unsure about which product is right for you, contact us today.

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