How to take great photos of your pets

Learn how to take great photographs of your pets with our easy pet photography guide.

Border collie in a summery field of buttercups

Take your animal photography to the next level and learn how take the best photographs of your pets with our pet photography guide.

Let your pet’s personality shine

Girl patting a border collie
Capture your pet’s personality on camera by snapping them in their natural environment/Credit: Getty

Whether your dog is a diva or your goat is a grump, let their personality shine through by snapping them in their natural environment, surrounded by their creature comforts. If this means they’re snooping around your flowerbeds or snuggled in a fresh basket of washing, follow them there!

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Apple tree blossom Getty Images

Get down to eye level

Domestic Cat Lies in a Basket with a Knitted Blanket, Looking At the Camera. Tinted Photo.
Get down to eye level with your pet for a close-up perspective/Credit: Getty

Crouch down or join them on all fours to find a logical and close-up pet perspective. For static shots, use a longer lens and as wide an aperture as possible, such as f/5.6 or ideally lower. This gives greater magnification to the subject and blurs the background, isolating your pet’s depth of field and making your picture look pro. Depth of field relates to how much of the picture is in sharp focus, from background to foreground.

Easy on the eyes

Portrait of Mutt Dog
Make sure your pet’s eyes are in focus/Credit: Getty

For portrait shots, make sure the camera has your pet’s eyes in focus, or all the power of their heart-melting gaze will be lost. A perspective at or below eye-level gives the picture a nice intimacy. Use the magic rule of thirds by envisaging an even 3×3 grid in your photo or lens, then positioning points of focus or interest (your pet’s eyes) along the gridlines.

Make the most of natural light

Domestic Light grey mini lop eared rabbit eating leaves in a garden
Make the most of natural light/Credit: Getty

The easiest way to make your pet look stunning is by making the most of natural light – venture outside or find a nice big window. If you are indoors and have a flash, point it upwards for a more natural effect. Pointing the flash directly at animals might scare them and also result in red eyes in the photo.

Lights, camera, action! Take action shots

Border collie
Border collie Archie won the 2019 Dog of the Year competition with this great action shot/Credit: Helen Marsh

Taking action shots is a superb way to capture your pet’s personality. Follow them round surreptitiously for candid snaps or use toys and treats to make their eyes light up. There are apps to get your pet’s attention – for example, Human-to-Cat Translator and Dog Squeaky Toy, which are both free to download.

You’ll need a fast shutter speed (try 1/250sec or above) and the correct aperture if your pet is moving quickly. Using your digital camera in shutter priority mode will allow you to set the shutter speed whilst the camera automatically selects an appropriate aperture. You can either wait patiently and attentively for the perfect moment, or use continuous (burst) mode which gives you a sequence of shots to choose from. Phone cameras are usually equipped with continuous mode too.

Jump into the frame

Woman with a dog outside
Showcase your special bond with your pet by jumping into the frame/Credit: Getty

Don’t be shy, get involved! Pet photography is all about having fun and letting your pet’s unique character traits shine through. Get the family involved by playing around or capturing the charm of a quiet cuddly moment.


Photo of the Day

Become part of BBC Countryfile Magazine’s nature and outdoor photography community by sharing your best images to feature as our ‘Photo of the Day’.

Find out how to send in your images, useful tips and our guidelines in our photography guide

Today's Photo of the Day is this beautiful bluebell woodland in New Ash Green, Kent taken by Debbie Nurdin during a local walk. #BBCCountryfileMagPOTD

Posted by BBC Countryfile Magazine on Thursday, April 23, 2020


Get ready to enter BBC Countryfile Calendar competition

BBC Countryfile Calendar finalists 2020
BBC Countryfile Calendar finalists 2020

Start improving your photography skills ahead of this year’s BBC  Countryfile calendar competition for 2021.

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Find out more about the photo competition – we will be updating this page as soon as we know more.