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How to Take a Better Pet Portrait

Are you still trying to get the perfect picture of your pet? Don't fret, pet photographer Amanda Jones just might have some answers for you.

She says it's all about capturing the critter's personality. Jones is a high-end photographer. Most of her clients are well-heeled and have money to lavish on their furry friends. And at $1,500 per session, you might imagine that these pet have been pampered.

Jones says her job is to capture a pet's personality so an owner can put it up on the wall.

However, some pets don't come from money, such as Esmay, a homeless mutt, or Betty Sue, a dog that was abandoned by her owner when her owner found out she was going blind, or Garcone, a homeless pit bull mix.

Jones volunteers her time to turn shelter dogs at Animal Haven into rock stars. She teaches pups how to put their best paws forward, so potential new families will open their doors and adopt them.

"What we do here is work with each dog and get the shots to be beautiful so that when they go up on the Web site, they go 'Oh, I want that dog. That's the dog I want!' It's like for dogs."

Jones shared these tips for taking great pictures of your pet at home:

Get Down to Eye Level with Your Pet
Too often people photograph their pets from a standing position with the camera aimed straight down on the subject. Get down to the same level as your pet -- it should make them more comfortable with you photographing them, which more-than-likely will result in a better photo.

Whenever Possible, Use Natural Light
Amanda believes successful photos utilize filtered sunlight or bright shade. A normal window sheer with sunlight streaming through is ideal.

Keep Clutter Out
As is the case with any portrait, try to keep clutter that will appear in the photo down to a minimum. Additionally, frame your pet tightly in the shot or set your camera to blur out the background. If you can, set your camera's f stop at 2.8 or 3.5, which keeps the focus forward on the immediate subject.

Try to Bring Out Emotion
Whether tilting their heads or perking up their ears, bringing out emotion in your pet will make them look sweeter. Keep their eyes focused on the camera, but use sounds or their favorite phrases like "want to go for a…?" to bring out their best expression. Hold the last word, or they'll come running!

Clean Them Up
Give your pet a quick brushing and wipe their eyes and mouths before taking their shot.

Treats, Treats and More Treats
By far the easiest way to get your pet to do what you want for the photo. Start slowly, with small bites and make sure you praise your pet for doing what you've asked. Be sensible -- don't overfeed; maybe cut down their meal prior to the shot if you know a long photo session is ahead.

Get Someone To Help
It's always easier grooming, treating and positioning your pet when there's another human around to help. That way, you can concentrate on the photo while your helper worries about the rest.

Be Patient
As a pet owner, you've already got the patience of a saint. Make sure to use those powers when taking photos. Also, don't be afraid to take a lot of shots and edit them later until you've got the shot you want. If you get frustrated, take a break and come back to it later.

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