mobile phone pet photography

The Complete Guide to Photographing Your Pet With Your Smartphone

As an animal lover, your phone is probably already full of pet portraits galore, but wouldn’t it be great if you could take professional quality photos of your pet with just your smartphone? The good news is, you can!

pet photography on a smartphone
Joe Monk (@jmmobiphoto)

Photographers around the world take incredible photos of pets using just their smartphones, and with the right tools and techniques, you can too. There are a few challenges unique to being a pet photographer, but as with all aspects of photography, the more you practice, the more you’ll improve.

Challenges of Taking Great Pet Photos on a Smartphone

pet photography photoshoot
Pet Charm Photography

Pet Photography Challenge #1 – Movement

One of the most challenging aspects of photographing pets is their movement. Unlike human models, it can be challenging to tell your pet to sit or stand precisely the way you’d like. During your first few photoshoots, you may find yourself having to play both the parts of animal trainer and pet photographer simultaneously.

It can be difficult to juggle these two roles initially, but with practice, you and your pet will figure it out. It can be helpful to work with your pet before your photoshoot. A few training sessions and plenty of treats might be just what your pet needs to be convinced to stay still long enough for the perfect pet portrait.

Pet Photography Challenge #2 – Focus

Keeping your pet focused on you, rather than everything going on around, you can also be a challenge. Again, a few treats and training sessions will go a long way! You can also try making unusual noises to draw your pet’s attention toward you. Kissy noises, tongue clicks, and even squeaky toys should be enough to pique your pet’s interest.

Pet Photography Challenge #3 – Patience

The most important aspect of photographing your pet is patience. No offense to other animals, but this is especially the case with dog photography. It can be easy to become stressed out when you’re attempting to take the perfect picture of your dog, and he or she isn’t exactly cooperating. Your pet may be getting stressed out too, so take a deep breath, relax, and try again later. Employing some tips from our action photography on a smartphone guide may also help!

The Smartphone Pet Photographer’s Gear Set-Up

smartphone pet photography gear
A Gold Photography
Preview
Moment Tele 58mm
Moment
Aputure AL-M9
Moment
MeFoto BackPacker Tripod
Moment
Moment Bluetooth Remote
Moment
Product Moment
Tele 58mm
Aputure AL-M9 Mefoto BackPacker Tripod Moment Bluetooth Shutter
Cost $$ $ $$$ $
Check Price

While this entire collection of gear is desirable for perfect pet portraits, it isn’t required. So, if the whole bundle of gear is out of your price point, consider adding just a piece or two to start out. You can always add the missing pieces of pet photographer’s set-up as you see what you really need.

If you do decide to go this route, we recommend adding a telephoto lens if your smartphone doesn’t come with a high-quality one. Telephoto lenses are ideal for portraiture, so having one is paramount to success in the niche.

If your smartphone comes standard with a telephoto lens, then it may be worth adding a tripod and lighting accessory. In a lot of cases, a phone tripod will come with a Bluetooth shutter remote, so you can kill two birds with one stone if you search hard enough. We have not included one of these options because the cost of the Moment Bluetooth Shutter is quite reasonable and worth the peace of mind that comes with owning Moment gear.

Smartphone Camera Lens

portrait moment tele
TechCrunch – The image on the left is with a phone’s native camera while the photo on the right is with the Moment Tele 58mm. It’s pretty easy to see why telephoto lenses are ideal for portraiture, right?

Depending on what type of photos you plan on taking, consider using a different lens. Clip-on lenses are a great way to fine-tune your smartphone photography to achieve your unique style. We recommend Moment lenses, but here is a list of high-quality clip-on lenses for both iPhones and Androids.

Lighting

lumecube in use
Lumecube

Regardless of what lens you’re using, it’s essential to be conscious of your lighting. Inadequate light will result in blurry or noisy photos of your pet, so you want to make sure your area is well lit.

If your pet photoshoot is taking place indoors, you can try to take advantage of natural light by photographing your pet near windows. However, you may end up with strange shadows, so don’t be afraid to experiment with reflectors or fill light.

No matter where you shoot, it’s crucial you avoid using flash when photographing your pets. Not only do you risk frightening your pet, but you’ll probably end up with a photo of your pet with glowing eyes. Remember, animals’ eyes reflect light, so try using softer sources of light instead of flash to capture that perfect photo.

Smartphone Tripod

pet smartphone tripod
Crooked Imaging

If you’ve managed to train your pet well enough to sit relatively still to have his photo taken, you may want to consider investing in a smartphone tripod. As a rule of thumb, smartphone tripods are a great tool! In pet photography, tripods are particularly useful because they stabilize your phone while allowing you to use your hands elsewhere, such as waving treats or squeaky toys around.

Depending on where you’re shooting and your preferences, you may want a tall tripod or something smaller and more portable. Here are a few of our favorite tripods for your smartphone.

Smartphone Camera Remote

Smartphone Camera Remote
Peter von Panda

Once you’ve invested in the stability of a tripod, you should consider using a camera shutter remote. There are plenty of reasons why you need a smartphone camera remote, but in pet photography, it will allow you to ensure that your smartphone stays in one place while you focus on keeping your pet in place.

Photo-Editing App

pet photo editing
Outside the Lines Pet Photography

If you want better photographs of your pet, consider ditching the camera app that came on your phone. There are more than a few excellent third-party camera apps on the market that offer more control and a more comprehensive range of settings to help you get the perfect shot.

While you’re downloading apps, don’t forget to choose the perfect app for editing your photos. Even the best photographer could use a little help adding those final touches to their photos, so consider using one of these great editing apps.

Tips and Techniques for Getting the Perfect Pet Portrait

Taking Awesome Animal Pictures Tip #1 – Focus on the Eyes

If you’re attempting to take a portrait of your pet with your smartphone, it’s essential to focus on your pet’s eyes. Focusing on their eyes is the best way to capture your emotion and allow the viewer to feel connected to the pet portrait. As previously mentioned, getting your pet to look into the camera may take some bribing or exciting noises, but you’ll be happy with the results.

Try getting down onto your pet’s level, or at least bringing your pet up more to your level. A change in vantage point will give you a different perspective than the usual photos you take from above your pet.

Taking Awesome Animal Pictures Tip #2 – Play with Perspective

Changing your perspective to one that more closely resembles your pet’s own perspective can result in more interesting and intimate photos rather than a simple snapshot.

This may mean sitting or lying on the floor with your pet or having him sit on a chair or other elevated surface. If you choose to bring your pet up to your level, be sure that he can’t get hurt if he accidentally falls or jumps off. Your pet’s safety should always be a priority!

Taking Awesome Animal Pictures Tip #3 – Be Wary of your Background

When doing pet portraits on your smartphone, try to avoid distracting backgrounds, especially if your pet’s coat is patterned. Busy environments with a spotted pet can seem distracting or overwhelming to the viewer. Instead, try to keep the focus on your pet with simple backgrounds.

Taking Awesome Animal Pictures Tip #4 – Take Breaks (you and your pet deserve it!)

Photographing pets can be challenging at times, so don’t be afraid to take a break once in a while. You don’t want to overwhelm your pet and turn your photoshoot into a bad experience. Try to encourage your pet with plenty of praise and treats too. If he or she begins to seem stressed out, you can always take a break and try again later!

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