Quick tips: Pet photography

This portrait was taken with an aperture of f/5.6 Hollie Latham Hucker

Pets, like children, are always on the go and it can be tricky to get them to sit still for photos. But, despite what many people think, you don’t need to splash out on expensive fast glass for great pet photography results


Pets, like children, are always on the go and it can be tricky to get them to sit still for photos. Despite what many people think, you don’t need to splash out on expensive fast glass for great pet photography results. For instance, the image above was taken with a standard zoom kit lens with an aperture of f/5.6. The key to successful portraits is to make your subject stand out. A shallow depth of field isolates your subject from its surroundings, but this doesn’t mean just dialling in the maximum aperture available and firing the shutter.

There are other things to consider, such as your position and focal length, and where your subject is in relation to the background. You also need to ensure you capture a pin-sharp shot, which is easier said than done when working with animals.

  1. The further your subject is from the background, the more blur you will achieve to make them stand out. Ensure you’ve got plenty of space to work in and avoid any background clutter, which may be distracting.
  2. The focal length also plays a large part in determining the depth of field. The longer the focal length, the more depth of field is reduced. Set your lens to its longest setting and then move yourself to fill the frame suitably.
  3. Of course, a wide aperture is required to help achieve a shallow depth of field. A value of f/5.6 may not seem particularly wide, but too wide will make focusing accurately on your subject’s eye very challenging.
  4. Get down low to your subject’s eye-level for a more engaging portrait. This may require you to lie on the floor. Use your elbows for support and position a favourite toy or treat near your lens to get your subject’s attention.
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