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Although a professional pet photographer is going to be able to get that great shot of the
special animal friend (or friends) in your life, you have one big advantage that the pro
does live with your pets, and therefore have LOTS of opportunities to get a
great shot.

Posing and Backgrounds
For classic portraits, find a spot either outside or in an area that is uncluttered. The mark
of a great portrait is that there isn't a lot of stuff going on around the subject that doesn't
add to the ambiance of the photo (unless what you trying to project is how many bits of
stuff are laying around your home).

An empty corner or a spot on the couch works well (assuming your pets are allowed on
the furniture). If you can't find a clear spot in your house (and remember that for most
point-and-shoot cameras, everything behind your subject will be in focus) - a clean,
pressed sheet in a neutral color or a drop cloth can make a great background. Just make
sure it's big enough to fill the frame and still give your pet some room to move around in.

For posed photos, it helps to have a family member keep your pet's attention (treats
and/or toys work nicely), as well as keeping your pet where you want them while you

Also remember to groom your pet (at lest brush the kinds with fur) prior to grabbing your
camera. Not constantly seeing that clump of hair in the "almost" perfect shot is worth the
extra time.

I find that engaging photos are often un-posed, with them doing what they do naturally
(like chewing a toy, playing, or sleeping). These shots tend to express the personality of
your pet more than a classic portrait and tend to have more connection.

I like to use natural light when I can and almost never use an on-board flash, as it tends
to flatten and hide the three-dimensionality of real life. I usually try to keep the light
coming from an angle to the subject to allow for some shadowing.

Outdoors, the sun coming from behind and to the left or right of the photographer works
fantastic in the morning or late afternoon (direct, top-down sunlight is less pleasing) as
does the soft light of a cloudy day.

Indoors, a bright lamp to the side and slightly in front of your pet works well. If you have a
bay- or picture-window, the light coming in from that can be just perfect for soft shots
(especially for cats and dogs that like to sit in the window looking out). If the shadows are
too dark on the side away from the light, consider placing a piece of white card stock on
that side to reflect some of the light back into those shadows.

Stephen Crowers is an equine and equestrian sport photographer from Doylestown,
Pennsylvania. See more of his work at