Photographing your pet is something most every pet owner does.  But getting a good photograph of your pet eludes most of us.  Pets tend to not be as cooperative as human subjects (although sometimes the opposite is true).  This makes the pet snapshot much more common than the pet portrait.  However, there are a few things you can do to capture a good portrait of your pet.

Photo of an orange cat1) Avoid using the flash – The flash can cause some eerie effects in the eyes of your pets, from red eye to green glowing demon eyes.  In addition a particularly skittish pet can be easily frightened by a flash going off.  A tripod and proper exposure settings can compensate for the lack of flash when an abundance of natural light is not available.

2) Keep it natural – Natural light is ideal for most portraits when you can get it.  This is especially true for your pets given the negative effects of using a flash.  Natural light also allows you to capture your pet in their natural setting.  A cat in a sun filled window or a dog in a grassy back yard provides both natural light and puts them in their element.

Photo of a pug dog3) Fill the frame – Using this composition technique can make for a great pet portrait.  Get in close, preferably with your zoom lens so as not to startle them, and fill the entire frame of the image with your pet.  This keeps out the distractions of the background and keeps the focus on the subject of the photo, your pet.

4) Don’t try to pose – Trying to pose your pet and getting them to keep the pose long enough to take the photo is an exercise in futility.  Both you and your pet are going to end up frustrated.  Keep it natural and let your pet chose their own pose.  It will make for a much better portrait.

Photo of a pug tail5) Get down to their level – The angle from which you shoot can make all the difference.  Some of the best pet portraits take into consideration that anything but being at the cat or dog’s level (or lower) is going to be little more than a great shot of the top of their head.

6) Try the unconventional – Not every portrait has to be a head shot.  Paws, tails and ears can make for great detail shots.  Don’t limit yourself to just the conventional.

7) Have patience – You have heard the expression “it is like herding cats.”  Cats in particular can be a challenge and their natural disinterest in cooperation can make photographing them difficult.  The same can be true of all but the most well trained and obedient dogs.  Patience will go a long way and be prepared for a lot of takes for the one good shot.

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