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5 Tips for Taking Great Photos of Your Pets 

One of the most fun aspects of blogging has been my ever-increasing love of photography. It's both the tool and the art behind the visual storytelling that's become such an integral part of GLOGIRLY for nearly 11 years now. (11 years???!)

I'm blessed to have an incredibly skilled and talented photographer-husband, a.k.a. Gloman, who's taught me everything I know. And a few things I'm still trying to figure out! He is also the resident gear-guru when it comes to cameras, lenses and all the accouterments.

When I hear from friends and readers, it's often not about cats, it's about photography. What do I shoot? What's my favorite lens? How do I capture the expressive photos of Katie and Waffles that live here on our blog?

I've put together my top five tips for taking great photos of your furry family members, as well as my favorite photo gear and what I'm shooting with now. If you ever have any questions or need help, please don't hesitate to contact me!


1. Let There Be Light
Light is one of the most ingredients of any great photo. But not all light is created equal. Natural light is your BFF, whether you’re indoors or out. And where your light is can be just as important. 
  • Take advantage of natural light from windows and doors. 
  • Position yourself so the light is either coming from behind you or from the side.
  • Avoid shooting towards the light, or your pet will be dark and underexposed.
  • Avoid direct sunlight coming in from a window.
  • Diffused light or light coming in on a cloudy day is much more pleasing.
  • Shade, shade, shade! Avoid direct, overhead sunlight.
  • Light should be even. Avoid mixed lighting like partial shade underneath a tree where spots of sunlight shine through.
  • The most beautiful light shows up an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset when the sun is gentle and warm in color. It’s like magic!
A Word About Flash
Using flash to photograph pets may not be your first choice. You’ll notice that when it bounces off the back of their eyes it has a tendency to create an unnatural look. It can also result in a flat and washed out image. Though many pros are skilled at making flash look like natural light, it takes quite a bit of experimentation and experience.

2. Get Down
Some of the most beautiful and expressive photos of animals are those that connect you with their world.
Get down to their level and you’ll be amazed at what you and your camera see. Try to get your lens at the same level as their eyes. Even lower can create a great perspective too. I’ll often set my camera directly on the floor. 

Of course, rules were meant to be broken. Catching your cat high atop their cat tree or looking down at your dog’s face as he’s jonesing for a walk can make for interesting perspectives as well. But my go-to positioning, particularly when I’m close to them, is always eye level.

3. Background
Before you even click the shutter button, take a close look at the background. 
Remove any unnecessary clutter. It’s easy to become so focused on your pet that you completely miss the trash bag waiting to be brought out to the garage or that one box you’ve still not unpacked from moving.

Avoid busy backgrounds, patterned upholstery, or anything that will detract from your pet. When you’re outside, the same rules apply. The simpler and cleaner the background, the more your pet will become the center of attention.

4. Focus on the Eyes
With cell phones or small point & shoot cameras, it’s easy to focus on the pet’s face. However, when using a DSLR, controlling your focus can become a little more challenging. Have you noticed how many noses are in focus yet the rest of the face, including the eyes, is slightly out of focus? Position the focus box (reticle) directly over their eye. 

With cats, I try to focus where the pupil meets the iris. With dogs, their eyes are typically darker, so I shoot for the edge of their eye.

5. Wait for it... Patience
I have cats. So commands like sit and stay tend not to be very effective. Patience on the part of the photographer is key even with the most well-trained dog. Here are a few tricks that might help you catch the perfect shot.

Sit down on the floor with your camera ready to go and let your pet just do what comes naturally to them. Don’t force it.

Once you’re ready, camera in hand, lighting, and background checked, introduce a new toy, box, kitty lounger or whatever you have on hand. Sometimes just moving an existing piece of furniture will work. Be ready though! Their newfound interest will only last so long.

At the end of their short attention span they’ll often hightail right it out of the room. Treats will almost always bring them back. If I want them to go to a particular spot, I’ll place a couple of treats there to entice them.

If all else fails, have an assistant on hand to keep your cat or dog engaged with a toy or treats while you click away.

My Favorite Things

I'm a Nikon girl. I love how user-friendly their menu system is. My camera is often smarter than me and whether I'm shooting fully automatic, completely manual or somewhere in-between, it does a great job of properly exposing my images, even in the lowest of light. I usually reserve words like LOVE and ADORE for Gloman, but in the case of my camera, I have to make an exception.

Lenses are everything. And unlike cameras, that are frequently improving again and again as technology advances, lenses are often forever. I try to buy the best I can afford over time, knowing that a great lens will stay with me forever.

1. Nikon D750 Camera Body (did I say I love my camera???)
2. Nikon 24-70mm Zoom Lens (here comes that love word #1 go-to lens)
3. Nikon 70-200 Zoom Lens (telephoto)
4. Nikon 18-35mm Zoom Lens (wide angle)
5. Nikon 105mm Macro Lens (for close up stuff like flowers and jelly bean cat toes)
6. Nikon 50mm Prime Lens (super small, great quality, perfect for hiking)
7. Nikon 24-85mm Zoom Lens (great quality at a great price - before the 24-70, this was my go-to)

My Bag
Gloman found this beautiful camera bag by Lily Deanne for Think Tank. I love it because it's so clean and elegant. Perfect for the female photographer and doesn't look at all like the usual clunky, black camera bag. Gloman loved it because it's a Think Tank and no one knows how build a camera bag better than they do. Of his untold number of bags, his current favorites are the Think Tanks.

FTC Disclosure: GLOGIRLY is a participant in the Amazon Affiliate Program. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we earn a small commission. We only share about products and services we've either used or would use ourselves.


  1. May I recommend you to get a Nikon Micro lens? Like the 40 mm 2.8. You will see how amazing your animals will look under macro proximity.

    1. Hello Marco! We have the 105mm 2.8 macro and love it! Takes a very steady hand, but gives beautiful results! ...Gloman is a huge macro photography fan too!


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