10 Ways to Perfect your Pet Photos on Your Phone

Pet Photos iPhone

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August 20, 2020

   Pet photos can be hard to get right, especially with a phone. The instant they sit, and you go to take the shot, they have made a leap toward your face to give you a big old kiss. This makes for lots of laughs when trying to take a photo, but the photos are very hard to capture.

         Pet photography puts portrait, sports, and child photography to shame with the unlimited challenges it brings. Taking a picture of an animal alone is difficult but add humans to the mix and you have got your hands full.

         How do you take pet photos with your phone? What are some tricks to capture the energy and excitement that your golden retriever shows as he catches a frisbee? How do you show the sly but friendly nature of your cat as she sleeps?

I hope you’re not scared away by the challenges of pet photography. With a few tips and camera hacks, you can take animal photos that capture their loveable personality.  Come along with me and learn 10 tips to take better photos of your pets. 

1. Capture Their Natural Environment

         Where do you start taking mobile photos with pets? First, think of your dog or cat. Where do they love to sit, play, and sleep? What emotion are you trying to capture? Are you trying to capture the excitement in your black lab?

         Done with the questions, here are some suggestions. Begin by planning a time to take photos and what you want to accomplish. Look at the lighting of their favorite places. If your cat likes to sleep under the table what angle do you need for the best shot? If you are shooting inside you may need a reflector or a light to get the right light.

Here are three pro tips for better mobile photos of pets with a phone

  1. Play in their natural environment
  2. Find new places that bring excitement and energy
  3. Play games with your pet

2. Reward with Treats and Toys

         The hardest part to pet photography is that pets don’t understand our direction and instructions. Even if your dog is trained it is easier to get him to listen and follow your lead with treats and toys.

A perfect time to snap a pic is when your animal does a trick.  Food bribes also work even if your pet is untrained. Animals are drawn to smells and treats will spark their interest.

Dogs are called “man’s best friend” for a reason. They bring joy, happiness, and create a lifetime bond. Taking photos of your pet with a favorite toy is a great way to show their playful loving nature.

Getting your dog to pose can be a struggle, they enjoy playing and having fun. So why not show the true character of your dog by capturing him coming out of the water after fetching the stick in a pond. With mobile photography and manual mode settings, you can freeze a perfect catch during the game of fetch.

Angles with Mobile Photography Dog Image

3. Get on Their Level

Animals see the world from a different “lens”. They don’t stand at our level so everything looks different. Stoop down, get low and see what the world looks like from their eyes. Get close and capture them at their level.

Head on portrait phots will show the personality and strength of your cat. Get a toy or a treat and snap a photo when you have caught their interest. Then get down at the same level as your cat to capture the details of their face and expressions. Also, by shooting at their level you will be able to capture details in your mobile photography that you may have missed before. 

Pet Photography Smartphone

4. Focus on the Eyes

         Depending on the color of eyes it can be a big hurdle. I once had a black dog with dark eyes and long hair. Although she was the cutest French Poodle in every photo it looked like she didn’t have eyes because her hair was the same color as her eye. 

         So how do you prevent this problem when taking mobile photos with your pet? First, I would look at the light, can you see any reflection of light in her eyes. If there is no reflection take a moment to find a light to create a glimmer. If that doesn’t work try a natural light setting. Natural light brings out the sparkle without risking red eye.

         When taking a photo of a pet, get close, and focus on the pet’s eyes. This will also create an image where the cat’s hair, whiskers, and face are in focus. 

Cat Photo Mobile Photography

5. Take a Moment to Groom Your Dog

         Pet photos can turn out really cute or can look sloppy, it just depends on the photo. Before shooting pictures take the time to brush and groom your pet.

If you are trying to do a family photo shoot for your Christmas card, take the dog to the groomer a few days before so he looks clean and well kept. If you don’t have time, take a moment to brush your dog and groom them so they are ready for the shoot.

6. Change Perspective

         Think for a moment about what the world looks like from different perspectives. The most traditional shot is taking the top-down birds-eye view photo. These photos work great if you are rewarding your dog with a treat or they are excited to see you after you get home from work. These photos can show the excitement and expression of your pet.

         Next, try getting low to the ground, take a moment to lay in the grass, and capture their stride and stature. By taking low-level photos you are creating a connection between yourself and your subject.

7. Capture Personality

         Taking photos of your pet and their personality is what makes great pet photos with your phone.  Try and capture the quirks that make your dog special. You know what treats they love, you know how they catch the ball. Do they have a strange way of holding a frisbee? Take pictures of those tiny details that show the individual personality of your pet. Each animal is different so take a moment and capture what makes them who they are.

Animal Photography iPhone

8. Take Photos in Live View

         Have you ever had a blurry pet photo? You have planned the shot and right as you go to shoot, your dog jumps up and the picture is all blurry. It happens all the time in pet photography with your phone. There is a simple hack that will solve that problem.

         Shoot in live view for IOS and motion photo for Android. To find the live view option on an Apple device tap on the circle with the dots in the menu bar on your native camera app. After tap the button will be red while you take photos. You will need to turn it off after the photo shoot or every photo will be a live photo. This will use a lot of space on your phone.

         To access motion photo on a Samsung, go into the camera settings on the manual mode app and turn motion photo on. When you are done with the shoot remember to turn it off or you will have all your photos in live view.

 9. Use Portrait Mode

         If you are taking pet photos with your phone, remember to turn on portrait mode, this will make the background blurred. In photography, this is called Bokeh. Your photo will focus on the subject and will lead the viewer to focus on the detail of your pet. These photos turn out very nicely and are great for pet portraits.

10. Capture Movement with a Remote Camera Shutter

         Do you find your pet photos turn out blurry as you take the photo? When taking photos of pets there is so much movement. You may be throwing a ball, watching your dog, and trying to take a photo. That is just taking multi-tasking to the extreme and well, usually, the photos don’t turn out that great.

         So what do you do to solve that problem? I recommend trying out some gear. The Joby Impulse Bluetooth Remote works to take one picture or many pictures from a distance. There is no need to run to make it into the shot with the timer. By holding the timer in your hand or a pocket you can set up the camera on a tripod and then just take the shot with a remote. This will simplify one of the steps and lead to crisp images of your pet.

Animal Photography Smartphone


         Are you feeling more confident about taking pet photos with your phone? If not here is a quick recap. First, take the time to find the right environment. What places does your animal go to play, or rest? Take a moment to plan what places you want to capture photos.

         Next, use rewards and treats to communicate to your animal. Capture your pet in their favorite trick or bribe them out of hiding with a treat. There are many ways you can use treats and toys to get great shots.

         To capture energy and excitement get on their level. Always remember to focus on the eyes. This can be hard if you have a black dog with black eyes. So,  get near a window and find some natural light to bring out the sparkle without risking the red eye.

         If you are taking a yearly family photo with your dog take your dog to the groomer. If you can’t do that, take a moment to brush and bathe your pet. Also, remember to change perspective and show different angles of your pet. Try top-down and straight on photos for a different look. Then once you have done that take note of their personality and capture that.

         Lastly, there are a few smartphone tricks that will make your photography better. Shoot in live view or motion photo. Also, if you are taking a portrait shot, use portrait mode to create a blurry background. To finish off you can get a remote so you don’t have to try to multi-task everything at the same time.  Now you can try mobile pet photography. Let me know what works for you and what challenges you faced in the comments.

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