Pet Photography: How To Get the Perfect Candid Shot

Pet photography is a lucrative niche for professional photographers and a fun hobby for amateurs and nothing can capture the spirit and liveliness of your pet like a candid photo.

Taking pictures of pets can be a challenge because they aren't as easy to direct as people, but the perfect candid shot is possible by following a few simple tips.

It's Not About the Equipment
Professional studio-quality portraits require a big investment in equipment, but great candid photography can be done with nothing more than a point-and-shoot camera.

Photography is Painting with Light
Aside from the camera, light is the most important element of photography. Great candid photos can be taken using natural light, a built-in flash or an external flash.

Natural light on an overcast day is perfect for pictures of your pet outside or inside near a window. It's best to avoid shooting pictures in direct sunlight because it can create harsh highlights and dark shadows. Natural light also eliminates the problem of red-eye that typically occurs when using a flash. If shooting on a clear day, the camera's built-in flash can be used with natural light to fill in the shadows.

A built-in flash creates a very bright burst of light that can result in harsh highlights and deep shadows, but placing a few pieces of tissue paper folded over a couple of times in front of the flash can soften the light.

When using an external flash, aim the flash at a wall or ceiling. The reflected 'bounce lighting' creates a softer light source, resulting in softer shadows and highlights that will reveal more detail in your pet's fur.

Keep an Eye on the Background
A background that isn't cluttered or too busy is best. Avoid things like flower bushes that are in full bloom and wallpaper that has a distracting design to make your pet stand out as the subject.

Candid is Natural
Unlike posed portraits, candid pictures capture the personality of your pet. While it's best to avoid posing, it's okay to provide a little direction. Whistling or squeaking a favorite toy can be a useful way to direct a pet's attention or get a certain look.

Perspective is Important
The angle the picture is taken from has an impact on the image. Kneel or sit to get down to your pet's level to give the picture a unique look from your pet's point of view. Tilting the camera slightly to either the left or right can add a sense of action to the picture, emphasizing the candid quality of it.

Get Personal
You know your pet better than anybody. Use that knowledge to capture a perfect candid shot that shows his or her personality by getting a picture of your pet playing with a favorite toy or basking in the sun next to a window.

Stop Action with Shutter Speed
If you're using a camera with manual control, set the shutter speed to 1/125 to freeze motion and capture action. If the camera can't be switched to manual, the same effect can be achieved by using a "Sports" or "Pets" setting.

Popular Cameras for High Quality Photos: