6 tips for snapping perfect pet pics

Until your pets learn the art of the selfie, it's up to you to snap endearing photos of man's best friends.

Buffie Boily is an award-winning photographer who owns a studio in Summerside, P.E.I.

Photographer Buffy Boily takes photos of Oliver, the dog. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Until your pets learn the art of the selfie, it's up to you to snap endearing photos of man's best friends.

But getting furry friends to pose perfectly for those impressive Instagram shots is never easy, so award-winning photographer Buffie Boily assembled six tips to help you make cover model-worthy shots of your precious pets.

Boily is the owner of Buffie Boily Photographic Arts in Summerside, P.E.I.

1. Start simple

Don't jump straight to dressing your dog or cat up in funny costumes, Boily says starting simple is the key. Costumes and accessories can freak your pets out, so get the great shot of your pet alone first before pulling out the fancy hats. Boily says she doesn't know in a photo shoot how far she can push your pet, but you do, so know the limits. But be warned, your pet may only last a few minutes before they want nothing more to do with the shoot.

Boily says costumes and accessories can freak your pets out, so start out taking photos of your pet au naturel. (Submitted by Buffy Boily)

2. Be prepared

Make sure your gear is working properly and make sure you have treats on hand to get their attention.

Before starting the shoot, make sure your pet is fed, watered and walked  — especially if it's a high-energy pet. On the other hand, if it's a lethargic dog, then DON'T take them on a long walk, otherwise they might fall asleep. It's good to feed them beforehand, so that they won't go crazy over the box of treats, but will still want one.

Know the best location in your home where you're taking the photo, or, if you're not at home, make sure your pet is familiar with the location beforehand. Boily says she invites clients to come to her studio the week before the shoot to give the animals an opportunity to sniff around and get familiar with the surroundings.  

Make sure your pet is fed, watered and walked before trying to get it to pose. (Submitted by Buffie Boily)

3. Proper lighting

Try to get your pet near a window to get natural light, but not direct sunlight that creates harsh shadows and bright spots. Consider putting a white sheer over the window to diffuse the light.

Be careful about mixing different types of light —  for example, your living room light bulb is at a different colour temperature than natural light coming in through windows. Boily says you should try to avoid flash photos, "you don't want a blue or green pet."

If working outside on a sunny day, go into the shade in order to avoid harsh shadows. Overcast days are great days for taking photos.

Boily says natural light is the key ingredient to great photos. (Submitted by Buffie Boily)

4. Capturing personality

They're your pets, so you know their personality. If they're super playful, you might consider a fun, silly shoot. If it's a quiet, stoic, subdued pet, maybe do something more classic. Just like people, if a quiet person came in for a portrait, you wouldn't suggest something wild and wacky. But, if you have a high energy Border Collie, you might do a high energy session like running or jumping, or catching a frisbee. 

Is your pet docile? Silly? Active? Boily says do a shoot that captures your pet's personality. (Submitted by Buffy Boily)

5. Take different angles

When we take pictures of our pets, a lot of the time, it's from above. So don't be shy about laying on the ground to shoot. However, depending on the pet, it may think you want to play and will start jumping up and down.  

Kitties like to be high on top of things, so put them on a shelf and shoot from below and close up. It's always good to take shots of body parts — tiny feet, or a dog's nose resting on its paws.

Want a great shot? Come down to your pet's level. Don't be afraid to lay on the ground to shoot. (Submitted by Buffie Boily)

6. Be patient  

Pets have no idea what you're doing. Why are you setting me up on this chair? Why do you keep calling my name? Boily says she has photographed a lot of puppy litters and it's always a struggle to wrangle them all — pick them up, put them back, repeat. And with puppies, they all pee, at the same time, which is why Boily says she always has lots of paper towel around her studio and the equipment.

Pets have no idea what you're trying to do when you have a camera in their face. Be patient with your pet and you'll get that great shot eventually. (Submitted by Buffie Boily)


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.