Cats, dogs, and bunnies might not LOVE having their photos taken, but that doesn’t mean a little coaxing (and some framing and lighting tips) won’t produce a drool-worthy (ha!) photo. Here, a professional pet photographer shares her best tips.



If you’re taking the photo inside, open up the shades and windows to let in the natural light. If you’re outside, head for some shade (say, under a tree) so that you’re not in harsh direct sunlight, which can create kooky shadows. “If your dog loves lying in his dog bed but it’s in a dark corner, bring it over by the window so you get beautiful light in a comfortable setting,” says Shaina Fishman, owner of Shaina Fishman Photography .


“The most important thing is to use this as a time to bond with your pet,” Fishman says. “Give her extra attention and lots of treats.” You can bring loads of treats and use it as a training session to work on Sit and Down, which’ll get Fluffy into a nice, still position. Bring her favorite chew toy so she can relax and start chomping, or bring a favorite toy and work on fetch. “If they’re not stimulated, they won’t sit still or look as happy,” she says.


If your pet absolutely won’t stop moving, Fishman has a smart idea: Put him in a situation so foreign, he’ll freeze. “Most pets don’t want to just pose for you,” she points out. “But if you put your dog on the table, where he’s not allowed to go, or dress him up in clothes he’s not used to, you’ll get some really funny, engaging photos where he’s wearing a great expression.”


Your phone’s burst setting (which takes a “burst” of photos one after another while you hold down the shutter) is great for active pets; you’ll end up with a whole bunch of action shots to choose from. Once you’ve selected the winner, don’t be afraid to use filters to lighten up any shadows and make your animal’s expression really shine. “Professional photographers use Photoshop, but the apps can certainly do very similar things to help your image shine,” Fishman says.


If you have a perfectly framed shot in mind going into the photo session, you might end up disappointed; pets have minds of their own (that’s what makes them so great!). “If they want to run in circles, get a picture of them running in circles,” Fishman says. “Be flexible and you’ll capture them doing what they’re doing.”