How to take professional-looking pet portraits

We all like to photograph our pets and taking professional-looking portraits does not need to be as complicated as we think. Although it does take time and patience, it does not necessarily need a lot of expensive equipment.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting a series of lessons on how to photograph pets. Each one will look at a different aspect of pet photography. Here's an idea of what's to come:

Part 1: Photographic Equipment - selecting a camera; using auto and manual focus; lighting and accessories.

Part 2: Animal Behaviour - understanding animal behaviour; personal space/fear circle of pets; techniques to use and avoid during a photographic session.

Part 3: Natural Portraits - controlling natural light using fill-flash and reflectors.

Part 4: Studio Portraits - selecting suitable backgrounds; basic lighting set-ups; importance of eye contact.

Part 5: Action Portraits - photographing animals in motion; shutter speeds; background details.

Part 6: Digital Imaging Editing and Printing - basic image editing; printing your images.

I will also be posting some photographic exercises for you to try yourself.

The art of any form of portrait photography is to capture the character and personality of your subject. So you will need to encourage your pet to relax and behave naturally in front of the camera. Sessions should be kept short, because animals get bored quickly and once that happens you will have to put the camera away until another day. Also, as you cannot ask your pet to say 'cheese', you will have to resort to other ways and means to encourage them to 'smile' for the camera. But, above all, whatever approach you adopt when photographing your pet remember their safety and welfare must always come first.

The aim of this series is to give you, as a pet owner, the inspiration and knowledge to take stunning photographs of your pet, however inexperienced a photographer you are.

Meet the dog lover behind Dublin's Cheeky Dog Bakery

Recently at a DSPCA Doggie Day Out in St Enda's Park in Rathfarnham, Baxter and I came across a yummy new service just for dogs. Though we all know that cakes and sweets are not healthy for our dogs, it is great to see a new way of providing tasty treats for pooches.

Cheeky Dog Bakery began two years ago after dog lover Jenny McCarthy struggled to find a birthday cake to celebrate her dachshund Oscar's first birthday. Unable to find one, she decided to make her own. Much to Oscar's delight!

Inspired by her own attempt a baking a birthday cake for Oscar, she spent a year researching and testing recipes and acquiring all the necessary skills to set up her own dog bakery.


Jenny runs the successful Cheeky Dog Bakery online, selling everything from donuts to birthday cakes for dogs.

All her dog treats are hand made with dog friendly ingredients using only natural human grade organic ingredients, including carob, as dogs should never eat chocolate.

Jenny’s dog treats include a Birthday gift box, which contains a large two-tier cake cookie, a large Happy Birthday bone with paw and heart detail, two gift cookies with bow detail, 12 peanut butter Mini Bites and two delicious Puppermint Donuts in vanilla and carob - all for €20.

If you would like to order any cakes, have a special request or special doggy dietary requirements, Jenny can also tailor make special goodies with a little help from Oscar of course!

You can check out all her canine goodies at