Arts & crafts

Top 10 tips for taking pet photos with your smartphone

12 Aug 2022 | Written by By Jeanette Lendon

If we are honest, what kinds of photos take up most of your camera roll? Flowers in your garden? Cooking instructions that you can’t read so have to photograph and enlarge to see the text properly (or is that just me?!), or your pets?

In a recent study (2020), Towergate Insurance asked 1,000 dog and cat owners in the UK about what they photographed the most – and it was revealed that UK pet owners now take more photos of their pets than of their family.

So, how can you turn your best friend into a pet cover star? Read these top tips to find out.

  1. Capture their personality. It doesn’t have to be the most perfect picture at all, but if your pet is showing their true personality, then photograph it.
  2. Turn the gridlines on your camera on (Google how to do this for your specific phone). Not only does this help with getting straight lines, but you can also apply the Rule of Thirds in your images (where you keep your main subject OUT of the middle square so they are off-centre). This works for all types of photography, not just pets.
  3. Look for the light. You want to try and get ‘catchlights’ in the eyes (these are the little chinks of light that almost make the eyes shine – especially helpful for black pets so you can see them). If you don’t have a lot of light, or they are sitting facing away from the light, you may be tempted to use the flash. TURN THE FLASH OFF! Use the exposure setting on your phone (watch the live stream back or Google how to do this for your phone), which will make your subject lighter or darker. Also, look for any shadows that may be falling on your pet. Either use them (they can be quite dramatic), or lose them (move or wait for the sun to go in).
  4. If you have ‘portrait mode’ on the newer phones, use it. But make sure you tap your pet’s eyes on your phone screen as this is what you want to be in focus. If you have a messy background, this works wonders in blurring it all away. Wherever possible, try to avoid obvious distractions in the background and move if necessary.
  5. Get down to their level. Don’t always shoot from above. Get level with their eyes.
  6. If you have a rather large or small pet, then think about perspective. Shooting a pet straight on doesn’t give you any sense of size. Have a look as to what you could use to really show just how big or small your pet is.
  7. Use a tight crop. You don’t always need to get the whole of your pet in. Sometimes just zooming in on their eyes, ears, paws, etc can give some great results.
  8. Don’t panic if your pets refuse to look at you. Natural shots are sometimes the best. Bribery and corruption tends to work well as a last resort (a well-placed treat or squeaky toy just above the phone).
  9. If you want an action shot of your pet, then ‘touch and take’. Touch their face on the screen (to get the focus point), then take it quickly. Try to avoid ‘burst’ (where you keep your fingers on the shutter and it bursts a series of images), as these will very rarely be in focus. It takes a bit of practice, but will be worth it in the end.
  10. Edit every photo you post. I use the free editing app, Snapseed. My motto is ‘if it can’t be edited in a minute, then bin it.’ Life is too short to spend hours editing photos, but just a few tweaks here and there will help bring your photo to life.

Jet is the Creative Director of Jet Black Squares, offering 1:1 or group masterclasses showing you how to take and edit your own photos on your phone whether it’s for business or pleasure. Having been a professional photographer for 13 years, she has hung up her ‘big’ camera, and now solely shoots on an iPhone. She lives in Hertfordshire with her family and two Labradoodles, Shaun and Blue.

Do you want to find out more about pet photography? Click here to join Jet’s live masterclass.

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