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  • Shreya Manivel

Phone-Friendly Pet Photo Tips

A photo is often the pet’s first chance to make an impression on an adopter. Great photos not only increase adoption rates, but they return more pets to their homes and they move pets through the shelter faster.


The good news: you don’t need a fancy camera or special setup to showcase the pet! Whether you have 3 seconds, 3 minutes, or 30 minutes, we have the tips to quickly elevate your pet portraits to help pets shine online….all on your phone (thanks to our friends and pet photography pros at Heartsspeak!)



If you only have 3 seconds…...


1. Zoom With Your FEET

To achieve higher quality images, always zoom in with your feet instead of using the zoom feature on your phone.


2. Clean Your Lens

Don’t forget to keep your lens clean! A simple but important one!


3. Lock the Focus

Are you in a crowded area or want to blur out some of that background clutter? Move in closer and tap and hold the subject (pet) on the screen until you see an AE/AF LOCK message.


4. Use the volume button (what?)

Avoid camera shake (re: blur) on your phone by using the volume button as the shutter button.


If you have 3 minutes…….


5. Use Natural, Indirect Light

Utilize natural lighting as opposed to the flash feature on your iphone (but avoid direct sunlight because it will wash-out your image). Photograph near a window or wait for the sun to go behind a cloud.


6. Burst mode

Animals are constantly moving. Use burst mode to capture many shots of the same scene. This safety net will make sure you don’t only end up with photos where the pet quickly blinked or turned away.


7. Rule of Thirds

Follow the tried and true “Rule of Thirds” to create more energy and interest in your image by using the grid lines on your screen. Place points of interest at the intersections of the lines to create a well-composed photo.


8. Stick to Familiar Locations

A pet's true personality shines when they’re most comfortable. Stick to familiar locations for your photoshoot. Let the pet loosen up to capture their quirky behaviors and characteristics.


If you have 30 minutes……..



9. Timing

In addition to taking light and weather into account, think about how the pet’s mood changes throughout the day and choose an optimal time. You might want to choose a time where the pet is tired so they hold still for the photos, or after a run when dogs are panting (and smiling!).


10. Take a break (and don't yell)

Don’t yell or command the pet to do something. This only leads to bad photos and, worst of all, a confused and unhappy animal. Pay attention to the pet’s body language and take a break if you notice them becoming restless. While actively (and gently) directing their focus to the camera can be a powerful tool, capturing their natural curiosity as they go about their activities will result in more natural pictures.


11. Adjust exposure

Tap the screen where your subject is to lock your focus until you see an "AE/AF LOCK" message. A yellow box with an exposure slider will appear. Slide your finger up/down to adjust the exposure.


12. Photographing Black Animals

Lighting is especially important when you're photographing black animals. Make sure the light shines in from behind you. Natural lighting can highlight the details of their facial features and accentuate their magical eyes. Add a pop of color to the photo by using bright bandanas, collars, and other accessories.


13. Camera = Treats

Every time you take a picture, give the pet a treat so they associate photoshoots with something they love!

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