As a photojournalist, I truly believe every picture does indeed tell a story.

Every day, our pets bring us so much joy, whether it is that moment a puppy lick’s a child’s face, a therapy dog brings happiness to an ailing or lonely person, a cat chases a butterfly, a horse gallops across a misty field, a bunny nibbles on a piece of hay, or a dog rolls in the first snow of the season, taking a photograph allows us to capture and enjoy that moment, over and over again.

Every day can be a day of many special moments to capture our pets on film (or memory card). And, with the beautiful Autumn and winter holiday seasons right around the corner, it is a perfect time to discuss some of my FiveSibes pet photography tips to help bring out the best shutterbug in you!

1. It’s All in the Angle

For some really engaging shots, shoot from your pet’s level. Get down on the floor to capture your dog’s expression while s/he is playing with a toy, or lay on the ground to capture your dog as s/he comes splashing out of the pool or lake. Try tipping the camera lens on an angle or zoom in for some fun, artsy shots.

2. Natural Lighting

No flash is best. Check your light source and shoot with the flash off, for a softer, more natural tone. For photos taken inside or out, let the natural light cast shadows across your pet for a beautiful mood portrait. When shooting in low light, you will need to steady your camera by using a tripod, or you can support your camera by leaning your arms on the floor, table, etc.

Need a flash? Watch out for red and “green” eye! Use a diffuser if you can. There are also some apps and photo programs available to digitally help remove red-eye issues.

3. Fun Accessories

Don’t be afraid to try out different lenses, filters, and film. A fisheye can add so much interest to a photo, while different filters and black-and-white (whether for the camera or digital manipulation via a photo application) can really give the photo a whole different feel.

4. Camera, Action!

If your camera has an auto sports mode, use it. If not, manually move your camera along with your moving pet, keeping the subject in the viewfinder and then snap the photo. This will give a great freeze-frame shot that really shows the animal in motion.

5. What’s in Your Background?

Before clicking that shutter button, check the background of your shot.

  • Are the curtains hanging evenly?
  • Is there a trashcan or a messy table visible?

While there are now digital photography programs and apps available to erase photo clutter, if you can set up a clean scene beforehand, it will save you time and keep the original integrity of the shot.

6. Attention, Please!

To capture your dog’s attention, use a squeaky toy or treat to draw his/her attention. This especially works well for photographing a group of dogs to get them to all look in the same direction. And don’t forget to reward them after the photos are taken

7. Special Events and Holidays

For weddings, be sure to include the pets! Pose them with their bridal human and the bridal party. Shoot a portrait of the dog wearing a matching bow tie or floral crown. For birthdays, photograph your dog enjoying a lick of his/her own slice of the ice cream cake, or wearing a birthday bandana with balloons floating in the background. In the autumn, outdoor shots come to life when your dog jumps into a pile of colorful leaves, visits a pumpkin patch, or poses with your human trick-or-treaters in costume! During the Christmas season, add some sparkle to your photographs by having your dog lay under the glistening tree with a gift box, or have your dog pose with colored string lights, wear a big red bow, or snuggled on a fuzzy blanket in a sled out in the sparkling white snow!

No matter where or how you are photographing your pet, be creative, be aware, and have fun! Whether we tell the story of our pet’s life as it unfolds, or we imagine a tale wrapped around the image we capture through our lenses, these are all special moments in life that become precious memories to proudly display in a frame, on canvas, in an album, or part of a slideshow for you to relive and enjoy for years to come.

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Dorothy Wills-RafteryDorothy Wills-Raftery

Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an award-winning photojournalist and author of EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley: Learning About Health & Fitness; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle books (ArcticHouse Publishing), as well as the international FiveSibes blog, based on the lives of her five Siberian Huskies. Her work has also appeared in American Pet Magazine, Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Dorothy is the writer and host of “The Sibe Vibe” Dog Works Radio show.” Named “Best Author” in 2015 & 2016 by Hudson Valley Magazine and all four books named “Best in Print” by American Pet Magazine, Dorothy is a 5-time Dog Writers of America Association “Excellence” nominee, winning the prestigious Maxwell Medallion in 2016 for her writing. An official International Purple Day® for Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy is the creator of the FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness campaign inspired by her own epileptic Husky, Gibson. In addition to her Siberian Huskies, Dorothy shares her home­ with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and new grandson. You can follow Dorothy and her FiveSibes on Facebook at FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews, on Google + , Twitter, and Instagram (@FiveSibesMom).