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How to Photograph Your Pets in Action

How to Photograph Your Pets in Action

When it comes to photographing pets, one of the most difficult images to capture is the running action shot. When done correctly, you’re able to capture the most comical expressions, and exciting action shots of your pets. Here are a few tips for shooting your fur babies that just aren’t interested in sitting still for a portrait session.

How to Photograph Your Pets in Action


It’s good to have one prime and one zoom lens when photographing dogs and cats. When you’re photographing animals that are always on the move, time is of the essence. The Rokinon Prime Lens is perfect for especially low or tricky lighting situations.

How to Photograph Your Pets in Action

Shutter mode

You’ll want to take more control over what shutter speed the camera is using by changing the exposure mode from Full Automatic to Shutter Priority. Also, make sure to set your camera's autofocus system to Continuous or Burst mode. This will keep your furry friend in focus as it moves. Usually a slow burst at 2 to 3 frames per second works well. But if you’re trying to capture a really animated pooch, kitty, or even a hamster, then use a fast burst of 5 frames per second. You’ll be able to catch unpredictable things like dogs licking their chops, or some other funny facial expressions that come and go in a blink of an eye.


When shooting your pet in motion, you want to be photographing it in bright light so you can use a fast shutter speed to avoid blurriness. The less light available, the lower the shutter speed, which can result in blur. Raising the ISO of your camera from also lessens the amount of light it needs, so you can try that, too. If you have a nice sunny day, you can leave your ISO fairly low, like 200 or 400. If it's cloudy, there will be less light. You may need to go above 400, up to ISO 800 or even 1000. If you're indoors, you may need to push that up to ISO 1600 or above. Let the shutter speed be your guide. Your goal is to be shooting at around 1/500 second or above to try to stop the action.

How to Photograph Your Pets in Action

Angle Shots

You may end up doing a lot of gymnastics during a shoot. You’ll be crouching, kneeling, lying on your back, and on your side. Instead of simply capturing your pet at an angle that everyone else also sees, shoot at the animal’s eye level. Immerse yourself in their world, two or three feet off the ground resulting in a more personal, intimate photo.

How to Photograph Your Pets in Action

Getting the shot

Let dogs be dogs. Simply follow them around taking candid shots while they do their thing, whatever that may be. You really capture the essence of the pet that way, active, happy, always on the move. And even if the animal is moving too fast and you end up getting blurred shots, that’s O.K. Sometimes it’s the imperfect shots that end up having the most personality. The keys to getting great action shots of your pets at play are good light, fast shutter speed, continuous autofocus, and patience. Just stand back, blend in, and let the animals rule.

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