Calgary Pet Photographer Cody James shares some tips with shooting animals and what to expect when dealing with a subject that moves a mile a minute! #16 of 25.

Pet photography can be tough, but so rewarding, pet owners love their little ones and it’s a great feeling being able to capture some precious moments of their pets!

Calgary pet photographer

Calgary pet photographer

I first started venturing in the pet photography world through a volunteer opportunity with the Animal Rescue foundation, my first shoot was with a wicked pup named Frankie, we went out of the box and got some cool urban shots with the dog. The following year I worked with Vada who was a great subject that had tons of energy, we went to a dog park (making my job 1 million times harder) but all the more fun!

Then there was Riley! I was able to capture some really fun shots with Riley including the one below.

Riley - September Calendar

The following year I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to capture the front cover for the calendar!


This was my selected shot for the 2013 ARF calendar!

ARF Alberta

I’ve also done a photo shoot with a K9 unit from the Calgary Police where I was requested to do a terminator style photo edit!

cyborg dog finished


With that said, when capturing pets there’s a few key areas I try to give major focus too. Action shots are tough to get, but when you get the right one they’re so worth it, utilize a fast shutter speed, that will allow you to capture the quick movement of a pet, shooting around f/1.8-2.8 will give you a smooth background isolating your pet as the main focal point.

Get creative! Sure the owners might want a classic portrait of their pet, but try and think outside of the box, hit up websites like Flickr to get inspiration, use props, toys, and different scenery to enhance your images! As always have fun, get your pet owner to be comfortable with you and your surroundings so their pet will feel just as comfortable!

ARF Calendar

Things to keep in mind:

  • Animals move very fast, and have a short attention span, be ready for them to get out of frame in an instant! Have your finger ready on the trigger!
  • Focus! Make sure you’re focusing properly, I often try to ensure the pets eyes are sharp as shooting in an F/1.8 often makes you choose the nose or the eyes!
  • Bring treats! They’ll listen way better!
  • Bring toys to capture them playing!
  • Try and get a feel for the animals character and how their owner sees them! This will separate you from many other Calgary Pet Photographers!
  • Experiment and be creative!
  • Keep your angles in check! It’s much more flattering for pets when you get eye level with them!
  • My biggest pet peeve (no pun intended!) is seeing photos where the animal is clearly looking at their owner! Be patient, wait for the right moment, and try to get them to look at you! When they’re distracted it’s quite obvious!

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