12 Photographers Who Have Elevated Pet Photography Into an Art Form

If you’ve got a pet, chances are you have countless pictures of them stored on your phone or computer. Like children, pets are constantly doing something that's photo worthy—even when they're being naughty. But, quantity doesn’t always equal quality. Often, it’s better to have a small collection of incredible pet photography that artfully captures the true essence of your furry friend. Going beyond a smartphone camera, photographers have elevated the subject matter with their professional equipment and above all, a keen eye. Paired with creative thinking, these images of animals become unforgettable.

What makes a good pet photo?

Some of the best pet photography goes beyond “cute” and looks into the soul of an animal. Photographer Robert Bahou is a fantastic example of this; he’s interested in what’s beneath the fur and has captured creatures' honest gazes for his series called Animal Soul. “I've avoided all distraction by limiting the photographs to medium shots with a black background,” he tells us in an email, “and I have purposely avoided humor as a selling point.” Continuing, “I want people to look at animals in a way that they don't normally do. I want to show the animals they're so familiar with in a way they haven't seen them before.” With these minimalist shots, the creatures’ idiosyncrasies—like small smirks and poignant expressions—are revealed.

While Bahou focuses on an animal's inner world, photographer Seth Casteel goes deep down in a different way. His brand of pet photography is playful and makes a splash for anyone who sees it. The California-based creative first gained praise many years ago with the series Underwater Dogs, which features energetic pooches diving into the depths of a pool to retrieve their favorite toys. Since then, he’s created similar series about puppies and kitties (although they weren’t underwater). The results are hilarious and technically awe-inspiring—both image-wise, and the lengths that Casteel has gone to make these shots happen. For his sensational Underwater Puppies, he says, “I taught swimming lessons to over 1,500 puppies, helping them build confidence and safety skills in the water.”

Photographer Sophie Gamand straddles the line between poignant, conceptually-based animal images and playful costuming. Her series Wet Dog is self explanatory—it showcases portraits of sopping wet pooches as they’re being washed during their grooming sessions. With silly hairstyles, the mid-bath looks will make you chuckle—but Gamand also hopes they’ll make you think. “I want others to see dogs for what they are: more than just animals. Our bond is so strong and unique that they really have a special place in the human lifestyle. They are more than animals, they are life companions. So when I photograph dogs, I look for the human in them: an expression, the life in their eyes, a smile.”

This idea of appearance is also a driving force behind Gamand’s Flower Power: Pit Bulls of the Revolution. Here, she adorns stigmatized pit bulls with soft, gorgeous florals as a way to challenge our perception of the breed. “The series is inspired by Baroque and Rococo's aesthetics, using the traditional codes of portraiture,” she explains.“The flowers symbolize the ephemeral quality of life, reminding us that these creatures are fragile and precious.”

Pet photography tips from the pros

Like other facets of photography, there are tips and tricks that professionals use to make sure that they’re getting the most from their animal subject. Over the years, we’ve heard from pet photographers who’ve given us insight into their process. Much of their advice isn’t all that different from any other subject.

“Think outside the square,” creative pet photographer Serenah tells us. “Practice your techniques.” But, she adds, “Most importantly, keep it fun for the animal.”

Pooch photographer Elke Vogelsang offers more technical advice and says, “Every individual dog is so very different.” Keeping this in mind, what works for one animal might not entice another. “Some dogs react to noises quite well. There are dogs who do the cutest head tilts whenever you say one of their favorite words. Yes, dogs have favorite words and they understand quite a lot.” Treats work well in most cases, but toys can be a problem. “Some dogs get overly excited when presented with their favorite toy.” Mimicking Serenah, she reminds us to make it fun for the animal. And, be calm. “The art lies in finding the interesting pictures among the shots you did.”

If you’d like to learn more about pet photography, check out these online classes:

Scroll down for an inspiring look at 10 + professional pet photographers elevating the practice of pet photography.

Although we’ve covered a few contemporary pet photographers, there are many others that elevate the ordinary animal portrait into something compelling and spectacular.


Belinda Richards

Portrait of Golden Retriever Portrait of French Bulldog Portrait of Drooling Dog Funny Portrait of Dog

Read more: Adroably Expressive Faces of Dogs Reveal They're the “Best People”


Stephanie McCombie

Best Pet Photography Best Pet Photography

Read more: Funny Photos of Dogs Licking Peanut Butter Off Their Faces


Sarolta Ban

Pet Photography Best Pet Photography Pet Photography

Read more: Artist Continues to Photoshop Rescue Dogs to Help Find Them Homes


Elke Vogelsang

Best Pet Photography Pet Photography Pet Photography

Read more: Interview: Expressive Human-Like Portraits of Dogs by Elke Vogelsang


Andrius Burba

Pet Photography Tips Pet Photography Tips Pet Photography Tips

Read more: Adorable Photos Reveal the Fluffy Under Belly of Playful Pups


Ralph Hargarten

Pet Photography Tips Pet Photography Tips

Read more: Portraits of Dogs With Human-Like Expressions


Ron Schmidt

Professional Pet Photography Professional Pet Photography Professional Pet Photography Professional Pet Photography

Read more: Wonderfully Witty Dog Portraits by Ron Schmidt


Serenah Photography

Professional Pet Photography Pet Photography Best Pet Photography

Read more: Exclusive Interview with Serenah, the Creative Pet Photographer


Robert Bahou

Professional Pet Photography Professional Pet Photography

Read more: Intimate Animal Portraits Capture Unique Quirks and Personalities of Cats, Dogs, and Horses


Seth Casteel

Pet Photography

Read more: Playful Photos of Adorable Puppies Swimming Underwater

Professional Pet Photography Professional Pet Photography

Read more: Playing Catch with Dogs Underwater

Pet Photography Pet Photography

Read more: Adorable Rescue Cats and Kittens Hilariously Captured in Mid-Pounce


Sophie Gamand

Pet Photography Pet Photography

Read more: Funny Portraits of Wet Dogs by Sophie Gamand

Pet Photography Pet Photography

Read more: Colorfully Dreamy Portraits Show Pit Bulls in a Softer Light


Vincent Lagrange

Pet Photography Pet Photography Pet Photography

Read more: Expressive Portraits of Animals Reflect Powerful “Human” Emotions


We hope this helps inspire you in your own pet photography!


This article has been edited and updated.

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Learn To Take Professional Photos of Your Pup in This Introductory Pet Photography Class

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Pet Owners Are Sharing Photos of Their Dogs Being Pawsome Study Buddies

Interview: Artist Designs Custom Floral Crowns for Beautiful Pet Portraits

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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