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Photographing Pets Like A Pro: Sydney Pearce of Cast + Forge Photography

A visual storyteller, Sydney has helped us capture our story at OlyFed. She has added amazing photos to our 114-year old archive to preserve our memories and culture. Of course, documenting special moments with pets, whether professionally or a casual snap, is within her wheelhouse and we’re happy to share her advice on creating frame-worthy memories.

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Sydney Pearce Photograph
Sydney Pearch Photo
Sydney Pearce Photo
Sydney Pearce Photo

Each year, we see incredible entries to our calendar contest from local amateur photographers. The photos get better and better each year as we receive many repeat entries from hobby photographers aiming for that “perfect” shot. In the spirit of supporting our entrants that love photographing their pets, we met with local photographers and asked them to share their expertise on the subject. Here is Sydney:

You don’t have to have a fancy camera in order to take an amazing photo of your pet, cell phone cameras can do quite a bit these days! Many have pro, portrait, and action/burst shooting mode that you can play around with as much as you like! Just follow these tips and I’m sure you’ll WOW yourself.


Use natural Light (if possible) and forget using your flash. The best times to photograph are in the earlier mornings or the later afternoons. Earlier evenings, when the sun isn’t directly overhead, is a great time to photograph. This will help with more even light and less unwanted shadows! My personal favorite shooting time is “golden hour” (an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset.) Play around with the sun shining on your subject and with it behind them for two completely different looks. Get really close to their face for some macro-type images or step back and get the full scene. Challenge yourself to create several different images in the same setting and then pick your favorite!

If you’re shooting indoors, find good natural light through a window. Try playing around with different perspectives and compositions where soft filtered light shines onto your subject. Here are some examples: place your pet on the floor in a light patch and shoot from above, place your pet on a couch or chair with window light streaming in from the side for a more dramatic look, place your pet cozied up on your bed and shoot from the front of the bed to show their size in comparison … the possibilities are endless!

Decide if you want a portrait style (pet sitting or lying still and looking at you), an action shot (pet doing an activity they love), or the easiest, pet sleeping. This will determine your next steps. Note: it’s easier with someone to help you, but not impossible alone!

If you are choosing a portrait, try to get your camera’s focal point on your pet’s eyes to keep them nice and sharp. Have a treat or favorite toy at the ready to keep their attention.

Going for an action shot? Celebrate your pet’s personality whether that’s jumping for a ball in your backyard, splashing in the river, being pet or held by a loved one, or sneaking snacks off the counter, you know their personalities best so let them shine and make it fun for you and them! You might need to try to change your phone settings to burst mode to capture multiple images quickly as some animals move fast (see the section on the pet calendar page about phone camera setting).

Above all else, don’t give up on your first try! YOU CAN DO THIS and you won’t regret having some beautiful and fun pictures of your special animal!