If you have a furry, feathered or scaled friend, you have probably already taken enough pictures to fill the camera roll. But if you have ever wondered how you can enhance your pet photos or dog photos to give them a professional shine, then we have some training goodies for you.
It makes a lot of sense to use a smartphone to take pictures of dogs and pets. To begin with, it is likely that you will always want the former with you, so that you can quickly react to all the sweetness that your furry friend stands up to. Phones are also small, light and unobtrusive, unlike larger cameras that can make nervous pets a little anxious.
Modern smartphones are also well equipped to get great pictures of your dog or pet. With different lenses available for different effects, you can have fun taking snaps, and it̵
That said, there are many other ways you can improve your photography, so we asked several professionals to provide some tips that can quickly increase your dog’s photos or pet snaps. Our pros use a variety of phones, but you should find that all the tips work with which model you use.
1. Reflect on things
Professional photographer Liz Gregg uses smartphones for many photos. She runs the hugely successful @ blackwhite.gold Instagram account, which was created after working on a shot for Cosmopolitan magazine titled ‘How to Make Your Dog Instafamous’. There is currently an exhibition of her work taking place on the Herne Bay seafront in the UK.
One of Liz’s best and most creative photography tips is to use the benefits of your smartphone to create stunning reflective photos.
“Reflections can really add a picture. With the right light and background, they look a bit magical, “she says. Stand your dog on the other side of a pond, or even in it. Then turn the phone upside down so that the lens is on the bottom edge of the phone. Place the phone as close to the reflective surface as possible – in the example here it is a pond, she says.
“Because of the way smartphones are built, this means that reflection images taken with them are often better than those taken with a standard camera, as you can get the lens right next to the reflection, giving it dreamy, pristine, mirror- similar effect, she says.
2. Make it a game
What dog (or cat) does not like treats? You can turn your next photo session with your beloved pet into a game that you will all enjoy by including plenty of time in it.
You may need a little practice to get the best results, but with a little perseverance and patience you should find that you get some really eye-catching photos that will look amazing on your Instagram page.
This is something Liz Gregg often practices with her own pet photography. “A really fun way to take a picture of your dog is to do it while capturing a treat. This requires a fast shutter speed, as the action is over in a split second, she says.
“If the camera phone has the ability to select a shutter speed (which you can find in Pro or Advanced mode for many Android phones, or via several advanced camera applications for iOS), start with 1/1000 second, and if it is still a bit blur, choose an even faster speed, she says.
“If the phone does not have that option, make sure you take the picture outside on a bright day, so that the phone automatically selects a fast speed. It takes practice to get the timing right – one hand to throw the treat, the other to to take the picture – but it’s worth the exercise, and I promise your dog will like it! ”she adds.
3. Make use of portrait mode
The latest smartphones have a kind of portrait mode. Although you are probably used to using this with humans, it is also a great way to give pet photography a boost.
Depending on the model of your phone, you may find that this is called Portrait, Aperture, Live Focus or similar. Essentially, you’re looking for the ability to blur the background to recreate the look of using a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a portrait style lens.
It may take some experimentation to get the best results. Professional photographer Jet Lendon, who turned on his ‘big’ camera after 13 years to photograph exclusively with an iPhone, and who now runs workshops under the Jet Black Squares brand to help others do the same, has some good advice.
“Definitely use ‘Portrait’ mode (or equivalent), but make sure you touch the screen where the pet’s eyes are, as this is what you want to focus on,” she says. “If you have a messy background, this works wonder to blur it all away – but as far as possible, try and avoid messy distractions, move to a cleaner or clearer position if you can,” she adds.
4. Go down to their level
A quick and easy way to instantly improve animal photography is to get down to the level. Yes, sometimes this will mean that you roll around in dirt and mud – but your followers on Instagram will surely reward you for it.
By placing yourself, or at least the phone, on the same level as your dog, cat or other type of pet, you give a much more natural and realistic result, and show off the pet in all its glory. Towers over them to take the picture can often result in weird and unflattering perspectives.
If it’s hard to get down to their level, try bringing them up to yours. Stairs and stairs are a great way to do this, but you can also try turning the phone upside down to give you a little extra reach.
You should also try not to worry too much about your pet that is perfect for you. “Do not panic if your pets refuse to look at you – natural images are often the best,” she says. should find that you quickly catch their attention. “
5. Edit your pet photos
Once you’ve taken a snap, you can improve them even more by applying a few simple editing tricks directly to your phone.
A popular app used by various photographers, including professionals, is Snapseed. Jo Bradford’s latest book Smart Phone Smart Photo Editing (available for pre-order now) comes packed with all sorts of tips for using the app across a range of topics.
For pets, she gives the following advice: “Color can create a kind of blindness to texture and tone in the animals’ fur and coats. Consider converting color images of your pets to black and white to achieve more detail and bring out the full range of textures, she says.
“But if you choose to stick to the color, you can use selective adjustments in apps like Snapseed to lighten darker areas of the coat / coats, especially if your pet is darker,” she adds.
“As with any portrait (human or animal), it’s important to keep your eyes in focus, with headlights an added bonus if you can capture them. You can also make your eyes look brighter and sharper by using Snapseeds’ ‘selective’ tools to make them brighter and more structured, she says.