Instagram star in the making? 6 tips for photographing your pet

It's difficult, but not impossible, to get excellent photographs of your pets

Your pet is doing that thing again. It's the cutest thing ever, and it must be snapped, shared and forever immortalized on social media. Cats and Dogs of Instagram, here we come. But what happens? Just as you reach for the camera to compose the killer shot, your subject bolts. The moment is gone forever, as are your dreams of Instagram stardom.

We get it. Taking memorable photos of your pets is challenging. But it's not impossible. Here are some tips.

1. Instead of trying to get your pets to stare squarely into the camera, consider photographing them in their natural state, where their quirkiness and personality emerge. Sleeping, playing, hunting, bathing or even getting caught in the act of chewing up your favorite pair of running shoes can make for truthful and infinitely better photos.

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2. Moments happen in the blink of an eye, so be prepared and anticipate. Whether it's an iPhone or a point-and-shoot camera, be familiar with its settings and ready to shoot when infinite cuteness strikes.

3. Good photography is all about light. Soft, even light outdoors works best, with morning and late afternoon the best times to shoot. Indoors, turn the flash off and use available light. The flash produces a harsh effect as well as red eye, and some pets are spooked by it. Try posing your pet by a large window or open door.

4. Explore all angles and try the unexpected. Crouch down low to their level and shoot from their perspective. Zoom in for visual impact so their face fills the frame. Isolate a particular detail, like that big floppy tongue or those gorgeous green eyes. And don't forget to pay attention to the backgrounds — you'll want them to be clean and free of clutter.

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5. Bribery usually works. For dogs, try squeaky toys, treats or that clicking sound you make with your tongue. For cats, use treats or a little bit of catnip sprinkled on the floor. A piece of yarn or a feather teaser will work too.

6. Finally, take lots of photos and be patient. It's all a numbers game, and in the Digital Age, the duds can be easily erased. If you can get one or two winners from each session, the shoot will have been a success.

ken.kwok@latimes.com

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