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2016-07-01 / HandMade

See Spot Sit

Capturing pets in photos just takes a few tricks
Text and Photos by Fara Lippincott


Those critters curled up on your couch are super photogenic, but trying to pose them in your family photo usually results in a hilarious failure. Our pets can be more “squirrely” than our toddlers! Here are some tips and tricks to capturing your furry friends on film.

  • Depending on the size of your pet, it might help to get down low or pick your pet up to bring them close to your faces.
  • Treats! Have treats on hand for quick rewards and coaxing them into sitting and staying.
  • Is your dog a duck chaser? It might be best for you to avoid the duck pond. As pretty as it may be, having a pup always ready to dart off in another direction can hinder your efforts to keep everyone in the frame.
  • What captures your pet’s attention? Is it a ball or a squeaky toy? Have the photographer (or helper) hold the item of interest over the photographer’s head so pets are looking toward the camera. It helps to have a photographer who can whistle!
  • For pet companions with black coats, make sure you’re shooting them in plenty of light. Their coats will absorb the light, so if you want to capture any details, make sure you are in a nice bright room or outside in open shade (not direct, harsh sunlight). The key for black pets is thinking about the background. You need one that is different enough so they stand out, but not something that is stark white or too bright as it will overpower your dark pet and make them look silhouetted.
  • Pets with white coats reflect the light and the sun, so make sure they are not in direct sunlight where they will be washed out and you won’t see their details.
  • For busy, large, wiggly families, take a moment to put the pet on center stage with the family gathered behind at a distance and just let the pet steal the show.

Most of all, let your pet be who they are and have fun! Capture them in their element doing what they love. Frolicking with the kids, giving kisses, rolling in the mud, leading the way on a hike — those are the moments you cherish and remember fondly, and that’s what you want to capture.


Fara Lippincott is a photographer and the owner of F.A.L. Design Photography. She teaches photography classes at The Makery in downtown State College.

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