5 Tips & Techniques for Eye-Catching Pet Photos

5 Tip for creating great pet photos


By Caitlin Quinn

Creating the perfect pet photo takes more than just pointing & clicking. But it doesn’t need to take a photo studio either. Follow these 5 simple pet photography tips and techniques to help your pets shine in every photo.


For the best possible result, look for good, solid light. Believe it or not, shade and indirect sunlight will result in the prettiest images (avoid strong sunlight or patchy shade). When inside, position windows behind you (the photographer) so that the window light brightens the face of the pet you are photographing. Outside, look for open shade, like the overhang of a building, under a tree, tent or sail shade, or even in the shadow cast by a fence or wall.


One of the fastest ways to improve your photos is to clear the clutter in the background of the image. Simply moving litterboxes, dirty linens, and other items that we tend to overlook in our everyday work can help ensure the focus stays on the pet. On a cell phone, use the Pro, Portrait, Manual or Selective Focus settings and get the added benefit of blurring the background and making the subject stand out.


As they say, the eyes are the window to the soul and the fastest way for someone to feel connection. The pet’s eyes should be the focus, whether you’re going for a close-up or a full body shot. To get the shot, stabilize your camera to avoid shake, and make sure your focus point is on one of the pet’s eyes. Finally, try to get eye-level with the pet to strengthen that connection that people will feel when looking at your images!


Show off your ability to do a lot with a little! If you’re looking for a backdrop, look no further than your donation bin or craft store. A fleece blanket makes a perfect background because it typically doesn’t show wrinkles the way a sheet will, or try vinyl shower curtains and placemats (for cat condos). Just remember, neutral colors are typically more pleasing to the eye. If you’re working alone on getting photos, patience and a few good tools (think: feather wand, stinky + delicious treats, and a great noisemaker) will make all the difference.


No squeaker? Try crinkling a bag and watch the head tilt happen!


We get into a routine and tend to overlook our everyday environment, but consider rethinking the beauty of your facility. Brick walls are gorgeous backdrops, concrete reflects light and is the perfect neutral background, and chain link looks magical when blurred in the background. You don’t need tons of space or professional equipment to get the shot that will get an animal home. Last but not least, rethink being a part of the photo. Having staff or volunteers in the shot breaks down stereotypes, adds connection and can help a shy animal stay calm and comfortable.

CAITLIN QUINN | Director of Operations, HeARTs Speak
Caitlin Quinn is the Director of Operations at HeARTs Speak (www.heartsspeak. org) and became involved in animal sheltering after years of volunteering as a grant writer for local nonprofits in her area. Prior to joining HeARTs Speak, Caitlin spent several years as the Assistant Director of Animal Farm Foundation, while also working towards her Master’s in Public Administration. Her greatest passion is working with shelters and rescues to maximize resources and use creativity to find life-changing solutions for homeless animals. Caitlin has had the pleasure of speaking at conferences and workshops throughout the US since 2009.