Essential Pet Photography Tips for Capturing Cute Images

“Happiness begins with a wet nose and ends with a tail.” If you have pets or have ever interacted with any dog, cat, guinea pig or ferret, you know the truth of this saying. So it’s probably not surprising that pet photography is one of the fastest growing genres, with thousands of dedicated photography websites being created every year.

Sunrise and sunset, sunny and hazy, the light changes subtly every moment. In photography, light is the most important element, and it can be said that there is no photography without light. From the film age to the digital age, the images we see are the direct response of the negative or photosensitive element to light. The photographer’s use of light will also directly affect the quality of our photos.

Today we take pets as the subject of photography and talk about the light and shadow of pets. Pet photography, the shooting scene is nothing more than the following two: outdoor environment and indoor living environment.


In fact, outdoor shooting is relatively simple, because we can only choose the light, and it is difficult to control the light artificially. Although the conditions are limited, it saves a lot of factors that need to be considered. After all, most of the stray animals we can shoot outdoors are unowned stray animals, and it is difficult to achieve portrait photography outdoors.

It is also difficult to artificially use a diffuser to change the nature of the light.

In addition, compared to indoors, outdoor shooting usually has better lighting conditions, which guarantees the shutter speed of the camera, and we only need to adjust the aperture and sensitivity (ISO) appropriately to take clear pictures.

So how do we choose the light to take artistic photos outdoors?

First of all we need to understand some knowledge points about the use of light – the properties of light and the direction of light.

1.Properties of light

As in many other photography genres, early morning and evening are prime times to shoot because the light angle is low, the intensity is moderate, and the light has a warm golden hue. At noon, when the strong sunlight falls vertically, the subject’s face will have a strong contrast, and it is difficult to shoot a good-looking light and shadow effect. If the conditions are limited and we can only shoot at noon, then we need to shoot in the shadow of buildings or trees as much as possible. Here comes the concept of direct light and scattered light.

(1) Direct light

Direct light means that the light source directly illuminates the pet, which is characterized by relatively tough light, good modeling effect, and relatively large contrast between light and dark transition of light, which has a three-dimensional sense.

(2) Scattered light

Scattered light means that the light is evenly sprinkled on the pet through reflection or refraction, such as shooting on a cloudy day or shooting in the shadow of a sunny day. This light effect will have very soft tones and transitions with rich layers.

In fact, most of the time we can’t change the position of pets when we are shooting outdoors: in winter they will be warm in the sun, making it easier to take pictures in direct light; in summer they are mostly cool in the shade, and photos in scattered light will become main character.

Only when we meet the pets of our loved ones can we properly interact with them, and we can change their positions while playing with them, so as to choose the right light for shooting.

1.The direction of the light

In addition to the above two points about the nature of light, we also need to understand the direction of light when shooting outdoors, that is, forward light and backlight.

(1) Facing the light directly

The simple understanding of smooth light is that we shoot in the direction of the light source. Shooting with smooth light is a more common way of using light in daily life because it is not difficult. When shooting along the light, both the subject and the background can receive uniform lighting, the tone is relatively soft, and it is easy to get a photo with the correct exposure. But the disadvantage is that the overall picture will appear dull, and the performance of the pet’s three-dimensional effect will be slightly worse.

(2) Backlight

The concept of backlight is the opposite of that of forward light, that is, we shoot against the direction of the light source. In this case, the subject is between the light source and the camera, and the photos taken can easily cause the subject to be completely black. , so many novice friends will avoid shooting with backlight.

However, if the shooting method is appropriate, the backlit film will have more visual impact, and the light source will outline the pet’s hair, making it more textured, which is an advanced shooting method.

We mentioned that when shooting pets outdoors, it is generally difficult to use external shooting lights or reflectors to fill in the subject, so when shooting backlit pictures, we need to moderate the subject of the pet in the later process. brightening.


Most people, myself included, have pets indoors, and one of the challenges of shooting indoors is the light. The main problem caused by the lack of light is the inability to obtain a sufficient shutter speed when shooting. Many friends will find that many pictures taken indoors are not clear. As long as the pet moves, the picture will be blurred. So the use of light is even more important.

Although it is difficult for a novice to artificially change the indoor light conditions, we can choose the location of the shooting independently due to the good interaction between pets and us. In the absence of supplementary light measures, we try to choose the smooth light to shoot, and the window light can actually be used to shoot a very beautiful picture.

Shooting along the light is a safe shooting method, which can ensure that the pet subject has good lighting, so as to take clear photos, but if you feel that the photos taken with the light are a little boring, you can also try to shoot with side light to create Light and atmosphere.

If you want to break the confines of natural light, first of all, you should avoid using flash. Flashes often startle animals enough to ruin the shot and even damage the vision of young animals. If you need to use artificial light, stick to a steady, always-on lighting setup and use camera accessories such as reflectors to soften it.


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