“Sit! Stay. Lift your chin up and look directly into the camera...” If only taking photos of pets were that easy!

Our beloved pets have minds of their own, so it’s almost always a challenge to get them to cooperate for photographs. But there are ways to make your photo shoot easier – and get some amazing portraits in the process!

Here are some tips to help you capture your little family member at their very best:

1. Be Patient and Bring Treats!

It can take a while before you get that perfect shot, so patience is key – you’ll need timing, practice, and a little bit of luck. Treats and props are important, too, because pets tend to be unpredictable. Don’t be afraid to bribe Fido!

Dog chewing a ball

You can get some great pictures if you distract your pet with his favorite toy. He’ll be in his element… and you’ll be right there with the camera, capturing him at play in a natural, everyday setting.

2. Move the Camera Around

Unusual angles and unique perspectives are a wonderful way to add some visual interest to your photos.

Get down on the floor and shoot at eye level – but be careful not to make your pet too excited! (Minimal eye contact and slow, steady movements might be a good idea if you think your furry friend will get a little too hyped up from having you in easy reach.)

Golden Retriever looking sleepy and happy

Plus, try shooting from high above or way below your pet, as well. But at all times, focus on the eyes (if they’re in frame, of course!).

Most importantly, keep in mind the rule of thirds for good composition: imagine dividing the image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically – and then place your subject or focal point at the intersection of the dividing lines, or along one of the lines itself.

Person taking a sunset picture with their phone

Photo by Sadman Sakib

Hint: you can turn on grid lines to help you compose the best shot!

3. Consider Your Environment

Switch up your setting whenever you can, because if Missy gets bored, she might just stop cooperating! Besides, you’ll want a bunch of pictures in different places for variety anyway.

Dog in the water

Photo by Jamie Street

Take advantage of interesting weather like snow or a light drizzle, vivid colors in the background, textures such as shag rugs and foliage, indoor locations like the window and bed, or even outdoor spaces like the garden or a beach or park.

The only limit is your imagination!

4. React to Opportunities

Often the best shots are the ones we don’t even see coming. If you notice something that looks like it might make a good photo, don’t hesitate! Get the shot and then evaluate the result.

Dog holding a stick

Photo by Jamie Street

Remember: if you’re using a digital or phone camera, there’s no such thing as too many photos (your Amber device can help you store any extras) ! Your chance of getting a good shot increases drastically when you snap a lot of pictures – and you can always delete the ones that don’t turn out well.

5. Experiment with Lighting

Play around with mood by incorporating bright or dim lighting, black-and-white mode, and sunlight. (Even if you don’t venture outdoors, windows are great for adding some natural light to your shot.)

Dog standing in doorway with dramatic lighting

Shadows and silhouettes are also a good way to add visual interest – use every tool at your disposal!

6. Incorporate Action

Action shots are great for showing off your pet’s character. Toss a toy and snap some pics while your pet jumps up or runs to retrieve it! Capturing movement often results in the most fun portraits.

Dog jumping into a pool

Photo by Murilo Viviani

Pro tip: use burst mode to shoot a series of photos very quickly and then choose the best one.

7. Get In On the Portrait

Your pet is a beloved member of the family, so why not incorporate the rest of the family in the photo shoot? You can take individual and group shots of your loved ones interacting with Fluffy, or even use a tripod and self-timer if you want to get in there yourself…

Note to parents: all of the above tips will work just as well with babies and toddlers! And what could be cuter than a photo of your pet and your child?

Boy holding dog

Photo by Alicia Jones

So grab your camera and seize the moment! Months and years fly by so quickly, you’ll love having some quality portraits of your little critters…

And don’t forget to store your precious images safely and securely for the long term! For help on how to do that, check out our previous post “Where to Store Your Data: At Home or in the Cloud?

Now get out there, have fun with it, and create some lasting memories!