In this article, I would like to share 10 tips for photographing puppies and kittens, along with some ideas to bring variety to your studio shoot.
What could be more delightful than welcoming a puppy or kitten as your new housemate! It adds a lively touch to your surroundings, and anyone fond of photography will soon be tempted to capture this young life on camera!
However, in practice, it can be challenging. Puppies and kittens don’t follow commands, and sitting still is certainly not their forte; exploring is much more appealing to them!
As an animal photographer, I have a lot of experience photographing young animals. The tips below will guide you towards capturing the perfect shot of puppies and kittens!
Tip 1: Use a pedestal
Puppies and kittens don’t follow commands, so they’re not inclined to sit still for your photo!
It helps to use a pedestal to elevate them, preventing them from freely roaming around. This also positions them well for your lighting setup! Always keep an eye on the safety of your setup!
By placing the puppies on this crate, they were more likely to stay seated, making it easier to photograph them all together!
It can also be helpful for kittens to be placed in a basket or other container type of object. In the photo below, I simply used a flowerpot, and the owner held it up for a moment. Kittens generally enjoy sitting in something, giving you a bit more time to capture the perfect shot!
Tip 2: Make funny sounds!
You can easily capture their attention with funny sounds! Your voice is always with you, so that’s the easiest option, especially high tones usually work well. If you’re not comfortable making funny sounds yourself, use a squeaky toy or find some animal sounds on your phone to play. Guaranteed to get cute tilted heads, just like this adorable border Collie puppy!
Kittens sometimes respond to sound as well. If that’s not the case, you can use a play stick to direct their gaze in the right direction. Short, quick movements yield the best results. That’s how Yeti below looks like a true model, staring right into the lens with an adorable tilted head!
Tip 3: Have fun!
It’s crucial that puppies and kittens feel comfortable during the shoot. Don’t force anything; let them play and have fun. Use their favorite plush toy or introduce a new exciting toy, and you’ll capture the most original photos!
Even Urbain the Weimaraner brought along a personalized stuffed animal with his name on it to the shoot and was more than happy to pose with it!
Border Collie puppy Bee also had her own bee-shaped plush toy and was up for a game.
Kittens are real playful creatures, making it very easy to capture action shots of them.
Tip 4: What a treat!
A true model loves to be rewarded with some treats for all their efforts! When the puppy starts to get a bit tired, bring out a tasty lollipop! Spread something delicious like peanut butter or KONG filling on the lollipop, and your model will instantly be eager to participate again!
If the pup is a real foodie, they might lick so enthusiastically that you can discreetly place a paw on the lollipop without the pup noticing. With a bit of Photoshop magic, you can remove the owner’s hand and make it look like they’re holding the lollipop themselves!
Some cats are real food enthusiasts as well. In the photo below, I smeared a liquid snack on the back of the lollipop, and Astor definitely enjoyed that!
Tip 5: Let’s pose with my new friend!
Is there already another dog or cat present? Let them join the pose! Make sure they are well-acquainted and tolerate each other’s presence.
Plan this more towards the end of the session when the puppy or kitten is starting to get a bit tired; it will be much easier than at the beginning!
Rudy the husky brought along his new toller friend Drea!
Maddox also made a new friend, and they are clearly best buddies!
Tip 6: Work with reflections
Puppies and kittens are small, making it very easy to capture reflective photos of them. With a plexiglass sheet of 1 by 1 meter, you can easily get them fully mirrored. This always creates a unique effect!
You can read more about the use of different surfaces in this article.
Here, too, the advice is to do this more towards the end of the session when the puppy is already a bit tired.
Tip 7: Gather some fun props!
Use some fun props to add variety to your shoot! A jam jar, a small chair, a hammock, a stool, shoes, a basket, a simple cardboard box, a flowerpot, and more—there’s no limit to what you can use for your photoshoot! This poodle puppy is posing with a vintage dog I found at a flea market.
These kittens are sitting snugly in a jam jar. It adds a nice pop of color, and they stay together more easily! By moving a toy around, they looked right into the lens!
Tip 8: Peekaboo!
If you have a true model at home, try going for a ‘peekaboo’ photo! The simplest way is to create a hole in a cardboard box. Use some treats to lure the puppy through it, or for a kitten, use a toy.
You can also try this with leftover studio background paper.
Tip 9: The whole family!
If you have the opportunity to immortalize the entire family, even better! The more, the merrier! If it’s a large litter, capturing them all together can be quite a challenge, so it’s best to wait until the end of the shoot for this.
Are the puppies tireless, or do you want to ensure success in capturing a group photo? Photograph each puppy individually and later merge them in Photoshop. If the pups or kittens all look alike, create a separate A4 sheet with their name for each one. Photograph this sheet alongside each puppy, so you’ll later know who is who!
For advanced photographers: include the mother and father dog in your photo as well!
For those who love a challenge: give it a try with kittens as well.
Tip 10: Sleepy heads!
Work as efficiently as possible with puppies and kittens; they are still young and can tire quickly. Respect their need for rest when fatigue sets in. Even then, you can take advantage of the opportunity to capture some adorable sleeping shots!
This is also the perfect moment to photograph multiple puppies at once without needing advanced Photoshop skills!
Hopefully, you’re completely inspired to get started with puppies and kittens, ensuring adorable photos!
If you have any questions after reading this article or if you want to further specialize in this subject, consider a private workshop to learn the tricks of the trade. I would be delighted to assist you in diving deeper into this fascinating topic!