What makes good pet photography? Is it the cuteness of the pet? Is it the cuteness of the pose? Maybe!

Like much of photography, what is considered “good” varies. There are the “artistic” standards; the formal school of photography standards; the commercial standards; and the pedigree pet “confirmation” standards; just to name a few.

So, the criteria that I offer here for what makes good pet photographyare unique to my “standards.” For example, to me, photos of pets posing like people (wearing sunglasses, hats, clothes, etc.) are “cute” pet photos. That doesn’t mean they’re not good. Those standards just aren’t the criteria for what I like in good pet photography.

My Standards for Good Pet Photography

I’ve photographed many pets – my pets and the pets of other people. The criteria of my “standards” of good pet photography are lighting, sharpness, separation and uncluttered background.

Lighting – As with most good photography, managing light is critical. Natural light is good, but harsh shadows take away from the photos if you’re not careful. Indoor/studio lighting is easier because I can

manage the lighting with more control (although I continue to practice to learn how to control and manage natural lighting better). I think that lighting is what makes the difference between a pet snapshot and a good pet photo. Good lighting brings out the dimensions in all photography.

Sharpness – Sharpness is details of the hairs on dogs and cats; the fine feathering of birds; the detailed patterns of reptiles; etc. Lighting is key for sharpness. But, I control sharpness by “aperture” control (I usually shoot pet photos with aperture setting between F11 and F16. With digital photography, testing and experimenting is virtually cost-free compared to film photography.

Separation – By separation I’m referring to being able to distinguish the pet from the background in the photo. This is a combination of lighting and sharpness. Separation is the most challenging part for me. It’s probably because of the aperture settings that I use and not setting the pet at a good distance from the background.

Uncluttered Background – I prefer a non-cluttered background. Actually, I prefer non-cluttered backgrounds in all of my work. Photographing pets is no different, for me. I rarely use props. I will use them to get the attention of the pets and to keep them from getting to restless.

That’s my story on what I think makes good pet photos. I’m sure that you also have some opinions about what makes good pet photos.