Picture this!


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By Anabel DFlux

Our cell phones have advanced tremendously since the brick phone days! This includes the addition of a camera, a popular tool we all carry right in our pockets. The cell phone camera became so popular, in fact, that an entire social media platform rose out of our love of photography- Instagram. 

But as you may have experienced, pet photography with a cell phone is not as easy as it may appear. Here is our list of nifty tips to use next time you photograph your favorite companion!

cell phone photography of pet

1. Photograph from your pet’s eye level. 

Eyes are the windows to the soul, and as such, capturing your pet from their eye level is key to creating really striking photographs. Viewers are more empathetic and attracted to images from the same perspective as the subject. Our pet’s viewpoint is intriguing to us! 

Some pets will immediately try to come towards the phone when you get down low to capture their viewpoint. Just keep exposing your dog to the phone camera until they learn that it is not something interesting and begin to ignore it. 

Dog with perky ears

2. Get those ears up! 

Ears up, ears up! Images are static, so a dog with ears down (even when relaxed and happy) may look sad in pictures. 

dog with relaxed ears

 You want to get those ears up and those faces smiling. As such, this requires a bit of attention-grabbing on your end. Whether through high-value treats (foods that your dog finds irresistible) or their favorite toy, you know your pooch best when it concerns getting their ears up. 

 For a head tilt in addition to ears up, try making a noise your pet hasn’t heard before, like a bird call! You’ll have a split second to capture the tilt, so be ready for it. Note, this technique shouldn’t be used on fearful dogs. 

Good dog catching treat mid air
Yay! Good job!

3. Reward your pet whenever they do something good. 

Don’t forget to give your pet a treat whenever they do something good! Whether it’s sitting down on command to staying in place (or even just not biting the phone)! You want your pup to associate the cell phone and being obedient with something positive. 

 silent mode

4. Put the phone on silent if you want to catch a candid moment.

Candid moments are images that are not posed. These tend to express a story or cute behavior. 

Cell phone cameras mimic the shutter noise of a proper camera. Although this might get some cute facial expressions from some animals, it will ruin your candid moment. Remember to set your phone to silent before trying to capture your pet doing something independently. 

As well as this, use the zoom feature on your phone camera to capture a moment from further away. You never want to be a part of the story and distract from whatever your furry friend is doing!

5. You can make a studio light out of a lamp and white sheet. 

If your home is on the darker side, you can make a studio light out of a lamp and white or light-colored sheet. The sheet helps diffuse or soften the light so that there is no harsh contrast (you don’t want your shadows to be too dark or your highlights to be too light). Just throw this sheet over a lamp, and you have yourself a studio light! 

Just make sure to never throw the sheet directly over a light bulb as this can cause a fire. 


6. If your phone camera has manual settings, use them.

Some cell phones, like the new iPhone and new Google Pixel, allow you to manually adjust the settings (similar to a proper camera). 

You can adjust:

• the ISO—which is the sensor’s sensitivity to light. This makes an image lighter or darker; 

• the shutter speed—how fast the camera takes a picture. This affects if your photo has motion blur or not; 

• the aperture—how much of the image is in focus and how much is out of focus. 

If you get a handle on this, your options for phone photography open up exponentially because you’ll be able to adjust how the camera takes a picture. 

7. Use phone applications to edit your photographs.

The default editing app on most cell phones isn’t very good. Luckily, there are many free programs you can download to help edit your pictures! 

A favorite among the phone photographers is Snapseed, a powerful editing tool to breathe new life into your favorite photos. Adobe has also released a mobile version of Photoshop and Lightroom for even more advanced editing capabilities. 

By utilizing an editing app, you can really make your photographs stand out among the crowd.

Dog shaking head

8. Understand the limitations of a cell phone camera. 

The cell phone camera will never replace a proper camera, so don’t expect it to. Understand what your cell phone can and cannot capture and work within its limitations! 

For example, most cell phone cameras are terrible at capturing action, so don’t disappoint yourself with blurry photos of your dog catching a ball. Instead, take photographs of your dog chewing on a toy!

dog cuddling under blankets

9. Aim to capture their personality!

What really captivates viewers are images that show your pet’s personality. Maybe your furry, feathered, or scaled friend has a unique quirk or characteristic? Showcase that! Many internet-famous animals are well known because of something unusual, such as Grumpy Cat and her sour face or Lil Bub and her droopy tongue. 


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