Two dogs wearing red bandanas and smiling in front of a landscape of trees on a sunny day.

How to Take Stunning Portraits of Your Pets (Even with Your Phone)

The stage is set, and you’ve meticulously created the perfect photo op for your furry pal. But somehow, every shot turns out a blurry mess unworthy of your pet’s considerable beauty. Sigh. It’s a problem that all pet photographers know, but luckily, there are plenty of tricks you can use to get professional-quality pet portraits at home — even with your phone.

Find the right lighting

Wondering how to recreate those gorgeous Instagram shots of pets? The first place is start is with the lighting. Natural light — especially on bright overcast days — gives your photos a dreamy quality. Good news: this means you have an extra excuse to head outside with your pet!

Another great time to try is the “golden hour” — about 30 minutes to an hour after sunrise or before sunset, when you’ll get gorgeous rosy lighting that makes any subject glow.

Finally, if inspiration strikes but the sunlight outside is too harsh, try taking photos near an open window or door. This lets natural light flood in without the nasty overhead shadows.

It’s all about the eyes

A close-up of a black and white dog.

Photo contributed by Diamond Naturals customer Victoria Simmons.

They say the eyes are the window to the soul, and this is especially true for pets. Animals are well-known for their expressive eyes, and when they’re made the focus of a photograph, any shot can become dramatic and more interesting.

When making the eyes a focal point, be sure to avoid using flash for a softer look. It also helps to keep the surroundings relatively uncluttered so that nothing else is distracting from the focus of the shot.

Take them by surprise

Probably the most difficult part of pet photography is getting your energetic critter to stay still long enough to snap a decent shot. A trick that may help you with this problem is to surprise them.

Let your pet play for a few minutes while you get everything ready, then call out or whistle to get their attention. With this tactic, you will only have a few seconds to capture a portrait, but with practice, you will be able to get the perfect shots. This technique will also allow you to capture your pet in their natural environment.

Holding a treat up high can also entice your dog to sit still long enough for a great photo.

Get on their level

A tan and black dog lying on the ground chewing on a stick.

Photo contributed by Diamond Pet Foods customer Stephanie Odell.

Whether you are posing your pet in a funny way or trying to snap some shots of them doing their thing, we’re guessing the ideal shot doesn’t involve the top of their head or back.

Getting down on your dog or cat’s level is an excellent way to find those dramatic and personal shots you’re looking for.

Next time your pet is in an ideal position for a photo op, try lying on the ground or floor to capture that shot.

Photography with character

A black dog soaring through the air over water at a long jump competition.

Photo contributed by Diamond Extreme Athlete customer G.C. Kondracki.

Whether your pet is a couch potato or a little ball of energy, your fur baby has a unique personality. And with the right technique, you can capture that personality in your photography.

Take some time to identify what type of character your pet has and work to either re-create or catch them in the act. Some fun ideas are snapping shots of your dog playing their favorite game or taking a portrait of your cat as they are lounging in their favorite sunny spot.

Time to snap some shots

Have any photos of your pets that you’re proud of? Show them off on our Facebook page today and every #FanPhotoFriday!


*Cover photo – Here is a great example of soft outdoor lighting in this photo contributed by Diamond Naturals customer Andie Mahoney.

The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.


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