4 tips for animal photography

Today, I’d like to talk about animal photography and share some tips that I have learned from my experience. If you follow me on Instagram or have been to my website before, you should notice that I take a lot of photos of animals. I simply love animals and find them photogenic. As a bonus, I also have two cats which makes it almost a daily activity for me. 
Animal photography is a popular category but it does not come naturally. Any kind of photography requires some skills and a good eye. Before you get into photography, remember that there are 4 essential things you will need:

  •          A camera (with a charged battery and a memory card)
  •          A photographer (hopefully yourself)
  •          A subject
  •          Light
An experienced photographer does not even consider this. Rather it has become a natural reflex. However it was one of the first lessons that I learned when I started with photography. I would like to stress on the charged battery and a memory card because without those two, most cameras will not work. It’s a common knowledge but I can’t even remember how many times I was missing one. Not only did I miss out on some great photo opportunities, but it really just messed up my mood for the whole day. Please don’t forget to check this before you leave the house!
Anyways, we came here to get tips on animal/pet photography. It seems like an easy task but it takes a few skills.

Be quick

Animals don’t usually follow commands (except for dogs) which makes them a tricky subject. Once you finally focus, they go and move again resulting in hundreds of blurry photos. To avoid blurry pictures, you should set your camera to a fast shutter speed. But fast shutter speed can only do so much so be prepared to have your eye fixed to the viewfinder. I am not only referring to the shutter speed but also to you as a photographer. Adapting your reflexes can enhance your photography because it allows you to capture moments one cannot see on a daily basis. A perfect example of a bird taking a bath can be seen on the right.


If you have a natural eye for composition, you can skip this tip. You can take sharp photos but if the photo does not come out looking just right, you should reconsider your angle. You can see a badly cropped image on the right. You can start by practicing the rule of thirds or centering your subject. Once you get comfortable of these tricks, composition should come easier for you. As a back-up option, you can crop the image when you are editing. Just make sure that the picture resolution is as high as possible to avoid bad quality crops.

Subject & background

This is one of the essentials. If you want to do animal photography, your subject will be an animal. It can be a cat, a bird, a horse or whatever you desire. Don’t forget to consider the background in this too. Taking a picture of a female duck in front of dry leaves may not have the best results. Many animals have neutral colors to be able to blend in in the wild to confuse any potential predators (example on the right). This does not make it an easy task for photographers to get the right contrast. Try changing angles to catch the animal with a contrasting background. There should be green trees or a water source nearby when shooting wildlife which makes it a lot easier. 


Animal photography in my opinion is a bit similar to portrait photography. Aperture gives a nice depth of field to a photo if used properly. Animals have a lot of hairs in their fur and getting the nice sharp focus on those hairs creates nice texture. I try to use the largest aperture possible. This allows the largest source of light to enter your camera and get the right sharpness on the fur. As with portraits, the ideal focus point should be around the eyes (if you are capturing the animal’s face). I try to get the focus right between the eyes or closely around. One of my most satisfying photos is photo of my hamster, as can be seen on the right.  

To finish up, let’s go over the main takeaways from this – be quick to capture the best moments, think and pay attention to your composition and framing, focus on the subject and adapt the background to it, and use your ideal aperture to bring the attention to the right areas. Animal photography is one of my favorites because it is fun and animals are adorable. Who could say no to the happy faces and fading moments?

How can I improve my animal photography? If you are still unsure or have more questions – drop a comment below or send me a private email here. I am more than happy to exchange tips & tricks, ideas or even photos!

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