Commercial photography isn’t just taking a pretty picture for your pet brand, there are quite a few elements that you will need to think about to make sure you are making the most impact.

The things I cover in this blog are based around how you would need to think about a commercial photoshoot for your pet brand, but it can also be really useful for you when you are just out and about making content for your social media!

Commercial pet photography which doesn’t just sell, but tells a story

If you want to have a bank of images for your pet brand then I’m going to walk through the fundamentals of what creates an image which doesn’t just sell, but tells a story – hopefully this will start building an idea in your head of the kind of images you want to achieve when you book a professional commercial pet photographer.

Being able to achieve a personal connection to your product or service with storytelling means not only will your audience want to buy with you, but because they have been able to insert themself into your story, they are more likely to stay with you.

(I mainly talk about dogs in the blog, but all the elements apply to any kind of commercial pet photography)

Telling the right story in an image will help your audience understand your brand in a second. Who doesn’t want their dog to be treated like this in a pub or cafe?

What story do you want to your clients to see?

I’m not a big fan of the ‘client avatar’, but by understanding your audience, their likes and dislikes, your photographer can help you create images which will allow your audience to imagine themselves wanting your product or service, to insert themselves into that picture. If you are dog walking company in the UK, then having images of people walking along a white sandy beach in the Seychelles is not going to work (although if you want to book me for that shoot, I’m absolutely up for it! 😉)

Reg & Bob specialise in colourful, practical dog accessories for outdoor adventure dogs so pristine dog & human just wouldn’t have attracted the right client.

Location of your pet brand photography

Which leads me nicely into location, location, location. If you are making a biothane dog collar for active, adventure dogs and their humans then you would want to organise a photoshoot which shows the aspirational side of your product – happy, health dogs exploring the great outdoors with a majestic landscape – photographing a dog snuggled up next to a roaring fire will only confuse your target audience.

And if you are creating high end dog coats, you will need to show a location or a scene which speaks directly to where your audience will be walking their dog, which leads nicely into the next two sections….

Combining not only the right type of dog, but also the right location means that your ideal client will know that what you offer is exactly what they need!

Show who your pet product or service is for

Going back to the people you really want to attract, what is the reality of their life? What is it about your product or service makes it easier for the human to aspire to want it?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a commercial photograph for a bejewelled collar where the dog model is a spaniel (I’m sure spaniel owners wont mind me saying this) – that’s because a spaniels favourite pastime is crashing round in the undergrowth and throwing themselves gleefully into every body of water, no matter how small or muddy! It’s just not something a spaniel owner would be able to imagine as it’s so far removed from what they would buy! Pop that bejewelled collar on an Afghan hound lounging on a sofa, or the Spaniel doing scent work, then the images will more likely match the reality. 

Choosing the right dog model for your commercial photoshoot

Lets talk fur – any kind of collar or harness is going to be quite difficult to photograph on a really hairy dog! Similarly you make any kind of dog bowl or food and want to have a shot of a dog enjoying their dinner, having a dog with really long ears means you have the issue of the ears constantly getting in the bowl, or covering the bowl (sorry spaniels, I’m looking at you again here!) Shorter ears & even shorter fur too means that you will be able to get a clear shot of the dogs face and the product. 

Similarly,  if you are a canicross teacher, a chihuahua might make a great running buddy but wont be the right dog to appeal to your wider audience.

Making sure you have the right dog for your product or service will help your ideal client be able to imagine their dog in that scene.

Making sure you have happy dogs in your commercial shots

The great thing about working with a commercial pet photographer is that you know that they will have had lots of experience working with animals. They will know the limitations, that regular breaks are needed, and how to pivot when even when the most well trained animal decides that trick they do just isn’t going to happen today. The reason this is so important is huge – the happiness and comfort of an animal should be the absolute top priority, and knowing the signals that they are worried means the difference between a shot which will sell, and a shot which will make your audience uncomfortable – even if they can’t put their finger on the exact thing, believe me, they will know.

Making sure the colours compliment and don’t clash

Look for colours for your shoot which will either compliment, or contrast in the scene. If you have a pink harness or product packaging, that would really pop against a green background of woods or trees if you are a more rural brand, but equally would look amazing in an urban scene. Subtle little nods of the same colours will help pull the image together too.

Think about how the colours will not only look in the image, but also on your website and social media as a whole.

Think about how your colours can be highlighted by either contrasting or complimenting the location will help draw the eyes in to what you want to highlight.


Making sure you have lots of clean space

You will want to use your commercial shots for a whole heap of things! Marketing materials (flyers, adverts, roller banners), social media, website, business cards. Commercial images need two things to help you be able to use them to their best advantage:

  • A ‘clean’ background – you will need an uncluttered background, and one that doesn’t have too much contrast (too many light and dark elements together).
  • Lots of negative space – space where there aren’t any important elements in.

Why? Lots of reasons! Text overlay is a prime example, if you or your graphic designer want to have some impactful words over the top of your image, then you will need that clean space so that the words can be clearly seen.

Another thing is, cropping for banner bars, Instagram and a whole heap of other things. Having lots of clean space means that cropping wont look odd or cut bits out of the image.

Graphic Designer Kate Hendry from Finbo Studios says “Commercial photographers give consideration to the brand style, space around the subject of the image and also the usage of the image itself. For designers this makes the job much easier and the overall design more aesthetically appealing to the intended audience. This could be the difference between your marketing materials capturing attention or not!”

Kate Hendry from Finbo Studios was able to easily overlay text on the My Anxious Dog photographs

Lighting for your commercial images

This is the one of the most important things you will need to consider because it will change the whole look and feel of the images you want your photographer to create.

External source lighting

This usually means either flash or continuous lighting. You can get really creative with external source lighting, it means you will never have to worry about where the light is coming from and you can create a setup where your images can be really evenly lit.

Both have their pros and cons. Flash can be very portable and easy to move around and you can be very creative with it, but it’s also very easy to go wrong if you don’t have someone who specialises in it. Continuous lighting is easier to use as you set it up and that’s it, but it can be bulky and you will need some kind of power source with you.
The downside is that it’s an extra element on shoots which you need to control.

Natural light

This is my favoured source and I’ve worked for over a decade learning how to use it to its best advantage, both inside and out. Again, there are pros and cons.

The pros are that there is not an extra thing to carry and move round on shoots, which can be a pain, especially when working with dogs and other animals when not in a studio. It also means you are super flexible, you can move with the dogs in seconds without having to worry about changing settings on the flash or moving the continuous light source.

Cons are that whether inside or out, you are relying on where the light is coming from, but a good photographer will understand that and know where to position the dogs, the products etc and themselves to make the most out of it.

I specialise in natural light commercial photography, although I know how to use it external source, I’m much more comfortable with natural light and the style of my photography reflects that. Please do check out Rowan at Pooch & Pineapple if you think your pet brand story would benefit more from externally lit images, she knows her stuff!

I hope you has helped you build an idea in your head about how you want to tell the story of your brand through visual storytelling. Any questions, please do drop me an email to or a WhatsApp to 07810541685

Kerry x