A drawing of your pet makes a wonderful keepsake! Whether you’re drawing it yourself or commissioning someone else to draw it for you, it’ll be a lot easier if you start with a great photo. Since I started drawing pet portraits, (which I sell through my Etsy store: RidgeLightRanch) many people have told me they don’t have any great photos of their furry friends.

Deanna Munger (my sister and co-host of the Anyone Can Teach Art Podcast) is going to give us her tips for getting a great photo of your pet. Plus, she’s sharing some examples of her own pet photos with you!

How to Get a Great Picture of Your Pet

by Deanna Munger

You don’t need a fancy camera to get a great picture of your pet! You can get images you’ll love with just a few minutes, a handful of treats, and your phone camera. When your favorite furry (or scaly? Or feathery?) friend has been groomed and is looking pretty, take a few minutes for a dedicated photoshoot!

1. First, Seek out Good Light.  

If you have an indoor cat, this may mean near a large window, but outside is best.  The ideal is to find some diffuse light.  What that means is that you want a lot of light, but no direct sun or partial shadows.  Direct sun will create harsh shadows that you don’t want.  Dappled or partial shade will make odd shapes on your subject.  You might work in the shade on a sunny day, or in the open on a cloudy day.  

How to get a quality photo of your pet

2. Choose a Good Location. 

You’ll want your pet off-leash, so your own backyard may be perfect! Find a spot of solid background with a pleasant color.  You’ll want your pet on something like grass, a wooden deck or table, or paving stones. I use our wooden picnic table, which is great because it brings my dog up closer to my level. If you don’t have a table that works, plan to get down a little closer to your pet’s level. 

3. Get the Treats!

You want your pet’s attention pointed at the camera, so you need a compelling treat.  My pup is very food motivated so she’ll look to any treat, but if you have a picky pet, choose something good. Hold the treat above your phone, as near as possible to the camera.  That way when your pet looks at the treat, their eyes will be on the camera.  Speak soothingly, whether it’s with commands or baby talk, your goal is for your pet to hold still.  

4, Use your Camera Well.

Hold the camera a little above your pet’s head so he will look slightly up at you (this is also the most flattering for people! Goodbye, double chins!). If you have Portrait mode or its equivalent, try it (it works best when you have good light and a still subject). Take a lot of pictures – that’s one strength of digital photography. If you hold down the shutter (whatever button takes the picture) you will get a “burst” of several pictures. You can then select the best among the burst.

Keep working those treats and enjoy!

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