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Articles and Advice from our Pet Expert

8 tips for pet lovers trying to snap that purr-fect shot!

Do you carry a picture of your pet in your wallet? Nearly 20 percent of us do, according to a recent survey by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), and just about every other pet lover has photos framed on the desk or posted proudly on the refrigerator.

But capturing your pet ‘picture perfect’ can be dog-gone difficult. Generally, you’re dealing with an unwilling participant – or a subject in perpetual motion – and even if kitty will sit or lie still, she’s unlikely to pose for you until you snap the ideal shot.

Danette Morse of Photography by Danette in St. Petersburg, Fla. says when you’re taking a photo of your pet, it’s generally because they look adorable or are doing something funny, so the best way to capture those moments is not by trying to create them, but by being patient and waiting for them to happen.

While you wait for that perfect moment, Morse suggests you get ready by finding the best angle to show what’s happening. You may have to sit on the ground, lie on your stomach or move to the right or left of your pet. She adds that photos taken at your pet’s eye level are generally the ones you will like the best.

Here are eight additional tips for capturing your pet’s personality and charm on film or digitally:

    Getting started

  1. Have lots of patience and a sense of humor, and be calm – pets can sense our stress.M
  2. Use your pet’s natural settings, nothing staged.
  3. Getting techincal

  4. For film photography, use fast enough film speed so you don’t get a blur (at least a 400 speed).
  5. Place the camera at eye level with your pet, and don’t be afraid to try different angles.
  6. Natural light is usually best. “Without professional equipment, getting a good shot of your pet using a flash is nearly impossible,” explains Morse. “Flash usually equals glowing eyes and annoyed pets.”
  7. Instead, Morse suggests photographing pets outside during the best light of day – an hour after sunrise or before the sun sets. Try to orient your pet so sunlight falls on his/her face. (Note: this is especially important when photographing solid black dogs or cats, which can be difficult due to lack of contrast.)

    If shooting indoors, choose the brightest room in the house and situate your pet near a window to take advantage of the natural light.

    Getting their attention

  8. Think about the fun (or funny!) things your pet does and try to capture that on film. This will give a glimpse of their personality.
  9. Cats are especially visual creatures, so use feathers or other moving objects to hold their attention. But don’t use a familiar or favorite toy unless you want to capture your pet trying to play.
  10. Use basic training principles and reward your pet when you get the desired behavior. Be cautious, of using treats right away, as it may cause your pet to look anxious or try to approach the camera. If taking numerous photos, provide occasional breaks and interact with your pet to keep him/her relaxed.

This month BISSELL launches the fourth annual Most Valuable Pet (MVP) Photo Contest—a U.S. and Canadian search for the most photogenic pet! Contestants compete for the grand prize of $10,000 to donate to the pet charity of their choice, plus a $500 shopping spree and the opportunity to be featured on BISSELL pet product packaging. For further information on BISSELL’s MVP Photo Contest or to enter your own pet, please visit

Kristen Buck60x60

Written by:
Kristen Levine, pet Lifestyle Expert

January 5, 2011

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