Pictures are the visual storytellers of our lives, so it’s no surprise that selfies—pictures taken by oneself—took off. What’s better than selfies? Selfies with our loved ones—especially our pets!
At times, taking a selfie with a pet isn’t an easy feat. If you’re wondering how to take a good selfie with your pet, here are some tips to help get your dog or cat comfortable and looking cute for the camera so you can share your animal selfies with the world.
Picture this: You have your photogenic dog sitting right next to you, looking ridiculously cute like he’s the next Insta-famous pup, and all is going perfectly as planned. You’re about to snap a photo when suddenly your pup disappears. It turns out at that very moment he had an urge to do the zoomies. Not exactly social media material, is it?
To avoid this issue, take time to exercise your pup before taking a selfie.
“Photographing pets can be difficult because they have so much energy and are easily distracted,” says Kelsey Rodas, dog selfie pro and dog parent of Instagram pup, Rusty Rodas (@rustyrodas). “Walk or play with your dog before the shoot; he will have less pent up energy, be less distracted and be calmer.”
For cats, you can have them play with a cat feather wand or help them burn energy by using a laser toy, like Petlinks’ Fun Beam laser toy.
Another benefit to an exercise session before your big selfie photo shoot: “Dogs look like they are smiling when they are panting after some good exercise,” Rodas says. “They love exercising, so maybe they really are smiling!”
It will be hard to grab and keep your pet’s attention if you have an open box of pizza or there’s a bunch of commotion nearby. It’s best to eliminate anything that might distract or scare your pet to capture your best cat or dog selfie. Get rid of anything making a noise and any food that might be in sight (or within smelling range).
If your pet remains distracted, try this trick: “Rusty does get distracted, especially if we are outside, so I have a trick to get his attention,” Rodas says. “I play a video on my phone of puppies playing [because] he loves watching TV and YouTube videos on my phone. I hold my phone right behind the camera and he perks his ears up. It works every time!”
Pulling out a rectangular mechanism that flashes bright lights might seem normal to you, but to a dog or cat, it can be scary. Be sure to acclimate your pet to your camera phone.
Let him sniff your phone and get used to the light. Try turning the flashlight off and on so he see it’s normal and not going to hurt him. Next, take pictures of your dog or cat with the flash. During this process, be sure to give him a tasty treat so he has positive associations with your camera phone. Who knows, it might brighten your pet’s smile even more!
Most importantly, don’t force your pet into taking a picture. Pets need to feel comfortable and relaxed and, of course, have a good attitude.
“Remember that dogs feed off of energy, so the second you get frustrated that your photo isn’t turning out, they will sense it and it’s best to stop, go play and try again later,” Rodas says. “Don’t force it; this should be fun for you and your dog.”.
Lighting is crucial when it comes to taking a good animal selfie.
If you’re indoors, make sure you have adequate lighting. Always face toward the light to get the best quality image. Having your back to a light source will make your picture less sharp and darken you and your pet.
“If your house isn’t flooded with natural light, go find a window and get as close to it as you can,” Rodas says. “The photographer should be between the window and the dog to take advantage of the light. Better yet, go outside on a cloudy day.”
If outside, there are ideal times to take a picture. Golden hour, which is known in the photography and film community as the best outdoor lighting time for picture taking, occurs twice a day: right after sunrise and before sunset. This lighting has a warm temperature with a diffusion or softening affect, which is more flattering to the subject.
The worst time to take an outdoor pet selfie? Midday. The shadows are harsh, causing less flattering photos with you and your pet.
It helps to make sure your phone is set to autofocus., and it’s even better if you use the focus boxes tool with your face. Keep in mind that the boxes may not recognize your pet’s face, so make sure he is around your depth of field—the same distance you are from camera—to get the best shot in focus.
One more tip to maximize your focus and selfie: “Crouch down so you can be on his level to take the photo,” Rodas says. “This angle helps a lot.”
Some pets have a natural photogenic gaze when it comes to selfies. Others need some help. You can use dog treats or dog toys to help guide your pet’s gaze toward the camera.
“Make it fun,” Rodas says. “Include rewards like treats and praise, and your dog will soon associate the camera with fun.”.
Another helpful tool is the Pooch Selfie, a smartphone attachment designed to maximize your chances of getting the best dog selfie possible. The attachment comes with a squeaky tennis ball, so if your pup looks off from the camera, simply squeak the tennis ball to grab his attention. After taking a selfie, reward your pupper with a game of fetch, further helping him associate selfies with fun!
Once you catch your pet’s attention, act quickly. Snap several pictures as quickly as possible to ensure you captured a good shot.
A trick with smartphones is to set your camera to take three or more pictures at a time. This will increase the chances you capture at least one good photo without mid-blinks, blurry kisses or unflattering faces.
With these tips on how to take a good selfie with your pet, what are you waiting for? Find your adorable pup or cute kitty and snap away!
By Lauren Bronston
Featured Image: Courtesy of Kelsey Rodas