Sit! Stay! Say ‘Cheese!’

Petsguide Magazine Online
Sept. 15, 2009

The cajoling, the firm commands to “Sit!” and the toy-waggling – anything to make your pet hold that pose while you maneuver your camera to capture the perfect shot! If you’re a pet owner, you know how challenging it can be to get a beloved pet to sit still when their mind is on anything but obliging you. So, how do you do it?

We received some professional insights from Chicago-based pet photographer David Sutton, whose studio is donating 10,000 of his 2010 Dog Days calendars to animal welfare groups nationwide. These organizations get to keep 100 percent of the proceeds from sales of the calendar, which feature 13 artistically shot black-and-white canine portraits.

This year’s sales are estimated bring in $100,000. And this isn’t the first time Sutton has helped, either: over the last 10 years, Sutton’s calendars have helped animal organizations raise some $1 million.

So, how did he do it? Sutton Studios has the follow tips:

Get Low and Close. Get on your pet’s eye level, and as close to them as possible. Try to fill up the frame with their image.

Pay Attention to Background. Try to minimize the amount of clutter in the background to ensure your pet is the sole subject of the photo.

Avoid Flash Photography. Animals have a highly reflective membrane behind their retina that help them see well at night, but makes it impossible to take flash pictures of them without their eyes glowing.

Mind Lighting. Try to photograph outdoors if possible. When indoors, try to use natural light and have the light behind you or to the side.

Be Engaging. It’s important to capture your pet’s attention when photographing them. Cats respond to things fluttering or moving. Dogs respond to sounds such as clicking, squeaking, or tapping noises. And don’t forget the treats!

Take Lots of Photos. The more photos you take, the better chances you’ll have a really good picture.

Exercise Your Pet Beforehand. Exercise will tire out your pet so that it’s calmer before a photo shoot.

For information about the 2010 Dog Days calendar or David Sutton himself, log on to

Image courtesy of David Sutton, Sutton Studios.