How to Shoot Great Pet Portraits

by Linda Eodice

© Linda Eodice
All Rights Reserved
Photographing pets takes time, patience, and waiting for the right moment to click the shutter button.

Think of animal portraiture as being similar to taking pictures of people Ė except, of course, you canít pose them or ask them to smile. Instead, youíll need to wait for and anticipate their behavior. Look for compositions, lighting and angles that will bring out the character of your feline or canine subject, and be prepared to invest the time to wait for those elements to come together.

Keep in mind that many of your best photos of pets will be taken at their level. I waited for this cat to lie down in one of his favorite places, and then I got down on the floor in front of him. Because I was shooting indoors and didnít want to startle the cat with flash, I set my ISO at 1600 to get good exposure in low light. I shot this cat portrait at f/4.5 with my zoom lens set at 88mm on my Canon 5D Mark II.

I also added vignetting to this image in Adobe Photoshop to darken the edges of the pictures and to emphasize the catís face even further. This is a fun effect to use whether youíre photographing pets or people. Hereís a simple way to create a vignette:

  • Open an image in Photoshop CS5 or CS6.

  • Choose Filter > Convert for Smart Filters, and then choose OK to convert to a Smart Object.

  • Choose Filter > Lens Correction, and click the Custom Tab in the sidebar on the right.

  • Make sure that the Preview checkbox is activated, and move the midpoint sliders to the left (darken) to create the amount of vignetting that you want.

And finally - make pet photography fun for your subject by rewarding him/her with a special treat after the photo session!

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Check out Lynne Eodice's excellent courses at BetterPhoto's digital online photography school:

About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Linda Eodice
Photography Instructor: Linda EodiceThe author of Photos That Inspire, Lynne Eodice teaches a number of excellent online classes for (see the current course listing below.) She is also the former Feature Editor for Petersenís PHOTOgraphic.

A native of Southern California, Lynne was educated at Pasadena City College and Cal Poly Pomona. Her love of photography began after her husband gave her a 35mm SLR as an anniversary gift. She began her career as a feature writer & photographer for local newspapers that included Pasadena Weekly and The Herald Tribune.

Besides having articles and photos published regularly in PHOTOgraphic, she has contributed to Rangefinder, Digital Photographer and California Tour & Travel, as well as PHOTOgraphicís Buyerís Guide, Big Book of Photography and Family Photo magazines. Her images have appeared in a popular instructional book called The Complete Idiotís Guide to Photography, and she has marketed her stock photos through Index Stock Imagery in New York.

Lynne has exhibited her fine-art scenic photography at Kolb Studio and the visitorís center at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, at Occidental College in Eagle Rock, California, and at venues throughout the San Gabriel Valley. In addition, she has taught many classes, seminars and workshops.

In the fall of 2007, she was honored as one of the Women Achievers in the San Gabriel Valley in Business Life magazine.

Lynne currently lives with her husband, Dennis and their dog, Chiquita in Altadena, California.