Animal Photography: How to Impress an Animal with Your Own Portrait ;)

Big or small, fast or slow, wild or domestic… who hasn’t photographed an animal? Surely you have done it more than once and twice. Has it happened to you that you have not been satisfied with the result? Are you fiddling with your camera settings but would like to get snapshots like the ones you see in magazines? Animal photography is not an easy subject, but it is very rewarding, so in today’s article I will give you some ideas and tips that will improve your photos and allow you to enjoy this initiative more.

Although if what you want is to delve into pet photography, in this guide you will find all the tricks to achieve impressive photographs.

Equipment needed to photograph an animal

Animal photography is a very broad subject, photographing a lion in the middle of the jungle is not the same as photographing a fish in an aquarium or your pet resting in your living room. Each moment requires a different team and settings, first we will talk about the team.

1. If what you have planned is a photographic safari, you will have to arm yourself with a good telephoto or super telephoto lens, from 70 to 200 mm for ananimals that you can get a little closer to and a 500 or 600 mm lens to take great shots of wilder animals. These little animals are not going to make it easy for you and of course, don’t even think about getting close! A stabilizer will also be of great help. You must also have a good tripod, camouflage equipment, binoculars to locate the precious specimens and arm yourself with patience.

2. You don’t have to go to the jungle to photograph a tiger or a giraffe. Look for the nearest zoo and take a telephoto lens and a 50mm f/1.4 or alternatively the f/1.8, yes we are talking about the king of goals and of the princeMario calls them that for a reason, right? You can achieve photos like these:

Photograph of a Giraffe, by Randi Deuro
Tiger, by Carol Green
Crocodile, by Eike

3. Maybe you don’t need wild animals and what you most want is to photograph your pet, well, in this case a bright lens will suffice (again I recommend the 50mm f/1.4 of/1.8). You can also get creative and use other lenses like fisheye for fun and interesting results.

Dog, seen through a Fisheye – Oscar and Rose photography

4. If you want to get the most out of your macro, don’t forget that insects and bugs are also very interesting animals. It will also help you to get closer to your pet and for the smallest inhabitants of aquariums or terrariums.

Macro, by Lola Hierro

Technical aspects of animal photography


  • For calm animals use Easy AF mode and focus on the eyes.
  • For more mobile animals Continuous AF (AI servo if you are Canon), more suitable for moving elements.


  • Adjust the ISO to the lighting conditions of the moment.
  • Use wide apertures to catch more light and to blur the background.
  • eye! Forget the flash or you will scare the animal! Use natural light.


  • Watch the backgrounds, a wonderful photo can be spoiled by a distracting background. If you’re at a zoo or farm, avoid fences and the like, look to the sky, grass, or plain, colorful backgrounds to enhance your images. If you can’t, a trick is to change the frame, move around, zoom in on the lens and remove the annoying background.


  • With animals, as with any other subject, you cannot forget the rules of composition and framing. I leave you a link to this post as a reminder.

Other important tips

  • Never lose sight of the animal’s eyes, in most cases, if you lose your eyes, you will lose the photo. Focus them well and your image will win.
the expensive frog
  • Activate the burst shooting mode, if it moves you will have more possibilities to choose the image that you like the most.
  • If you are going to photograph through glass, whether in a zoo, in a terrarium, aquarium…: do not move too far from the glass so that you do not see the spots and do not shoot at an angle so that less reflections are seen.
    Support the objective on the glass and shoot in parallel.
    Trick: place a dark cloth around the lens to avoid reducing reflections in case you have to shoot at an angle.
    If the aquarium or terrarium is yours, clean the glass well and you will avoid a lot of later work on the computer.
  • Beware of the wire fences that separate you from the animal. If you can’t avoid it, make it disappear with a telephoto lens by getting the lens as close to the fence as you can and use an open aperture.
  • Do not settle for just one specimen, try to find the interaction between several species or several specimens of the same. You will get a much more emotional photograph.
Elephant Love, Paolo Camera
Bipids, from Joao.bud
  • Observation is very important. Take time to observe their gestures, their habits and their best postures, it will surely help you to get better snapshots.
  • Practice over and over again, look for little animals close to home and do tests until you find the result that you like the most. Practicing is the best way to learn.
  • Respect animals and their environment. It does not matter if you are on safari, in the field, at the zoo or in the garden of your house with your pet. The most important thing is the animal and not the photo, never make it suffer, nor prioritize a photograph over its well-being.
  • Last but not least… respect the animal, but… respect your life even more! Don’t take unnecessarily risky approaching a tiger or a lion with a ribeye to get them closer to you… you know there are other ways! 😉

I leave you some other examples so that you can finish capturing that beautiful animal image that you are about to achieve 😉 .

Leah Makin Photography

This has been my humble weekly contribution. I hope these photos stir something in you and make you want to use your camera to produce photos as impressive as the ones you just saw. Remember to put everything you’ve learned into practice, and as always, don’t stop sharing the contents of the blog.

Thanks, as always.