Pet Photography: Question and Answer
Lifestyle, Manual Mode

I’m so excited to share with your guys a mini series on pet photographer. Rachel Potter is a pet photographer in central Mississippi. She has such a way of capturing animals…it may be all the time she spends with them in her day job as a veterinarian.

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What are your “Go To” Settings for pet photography?

Shutter speed
When you think of pet photography- think of sports and action; fast moving toddlers. I almost never shoot below a shutter speed of 1/250 and prefer higher than 1/400 for most work. Of course if your going for action shots OF pets, you will need to crank that even higher, for example greater than 1/1000 shutter speed.

As for my favorite aperture, I try to stick to around f/3.2. It was definitely the sweet spot on my beloved first lens the 100L 2.8 Macro, and is there most of my current shots are set. Because I like to shoot with long lenses (more on this later) that aperture gives me both the creamy bokeh and allows for most important features of my subjects to be in focus. If shooting with a shorter lens (such as the 50mm and below) you will have to increase the aperture to compensate for that.

ISO settings are where I vary the most. As long as you maintain a good exposure or slighting overexpose, noise will be minimal at moderately higher ISOs on most cameras.

pet photography by rachel potter

pet photography by rachel potter

Read more in the pet photography series

Pet Photography: Settings
Pet Photography: Focus and Lenses
Pet Photography: How to Photograph a Black Dog
Pet Photography: Getting THE Shot

  • January 15, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    Great post! I am looking forward to reading more from Rachel. If shooting with a 50mm, what would you suggest increasing the aperture to?

    • January 15, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      Which 50mm Patty? And how many dogs and what situation are you aiming for?

      • January 15, 2013 at 4:06 PM

        Nikon 50mm f/1.8. One dog. Similar situations to the ones above (face/eyes in focus) Thanks!

        • January 15, 2013 at 5:43 PM

          I would try for an app of 2.8 or 3.2. IF both eyes and nose are in focus (length varies with the breed of dog) then you are good to go!

  • January 15, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Thank you Rachel for sharing your tips and for confirming much of what I try to do with my work. Cracks me up when my wedding photographer friends don’t understand why I would ever need a shutter speed of 1/1250. Until I take them lure coursing with me.

  • Jen
    January 16, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    Love taking dog photos! I have two dogs, a Berner and a German Wire Hair Pointer. I will have to experiment more with my shorter lens. Sometimes it’s tough to get the pointer to sit still long enough. The most fun I have is taking photos of my horse and other horses at shows. That’s when I take loads of shots just to get one that is stunning. Anyway, thanks for the tips.

  • January 16, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    Thank you so much for this, Rachel!! I really need to work with my doggies using your tips. :)

  • Amanda
    January 16, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    I am a volunteer photographer for our local humane society and have considered trying to go professional in pet photography. SUPER excited to see these articles coming up! Please give us any tips on going into business in the pet field if you have some!

    I love animals and want to help people capture the beauty and love they radiate.


  • Rachel
    January 16, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    Cute! Lovely work :). I can tell I will get some great ideas in this series for capturing my 1.5 year old in full tilt :).

  • Sally Ellison
    March 5, 2013 at 7:46 AM

    I have just purchased a Canon T4i. I am new to photography but I want to concentrate on pet photography. The lens that came with the camera is the EF-S 18-135 IS STM. No funds right now for any other lenses. Will this lens get me started with getting the hang for taking pet photos? What would be your suggestion for an additional lens once I can afford to purchase one? Thanks

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