top of page

Picture-Perfect Pets

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

Back in B.C. (Before Cari), Beth Gibson Lilja often wondered why some clients took so “ridiculously” many photos of their pets. “There’s only so many photos you can take of a dog lying on its back,” thought Beth. Now, 11 delightful years later with Cari, Beth’s bichon frisé, Beth is nearly possessed about photographing BGL & Associates, LLC’s CMO (Chief Morale Officer). So today, here’s some advice from a professional pet photographer on how to shoot good pet pictures, just in time for April’s National Pet Day.

First, background on Beth’s conversion. Maybe it was the struggle to adopt Cari. Husband Pat had dog allergies, so for years, dogs weren’t an option. But one day when Beth again asked Pat, he didn’t say, “absolutely not!” Beth took that as a “yes”—provided it was a bichon frisé, a breed more allergy-friendly.

“There just weren’t any bichons available for adoption,” laments Beth. At last, one surfaced. “I first met her at a Tractor Supply Co in Inver Grove Heights, MN.” Cari, rescued from a puppy mill, looked at me as if to say, ‘I think I just found my mommy.’” The disheveled bichon frisé had matted hair, ear mites, fleas and worms. But Beth immediately knew she and husband Pat must adopt her. She was finally delivered to her new parents and her new home at 2:30pm on Saturday, December 5, 2009.

Meanwhile, Beth had a 3:00pm home studio client workshop. Cari’s foster mom warned that Cari didn’t know how to climb stairs (Beth’s studio is downstairs)—and the seven-month-old puppy was not yet house-trained. By evening’s end, Cari was up the stairs. She learned by watching—smart gal, that Cari. The rest is an 11-year history of fun, love and dual devotion—all captured in photos, of course.

These days, Cari is queen. Beth’s amassed three or four albums of Cari. She’s also been featured on Sidewalk Dog’s cover and on TV several times. Can you say, “Diva Dog?”

Check out her professional Sidewalk Dog photo shoot:

When photographing a pet, Beth recommends random shots—posed photos are challenging for dogs, especially. Professional pet photographer, Kirsten Eitreim of KME Photography agrees, but offers these tips:

  1. When shooting a posed picture, try to eliminate distractions such as other pets, people and toys. Find a place that’s not too busy.

  2. If indoors, find a place with good light from windows that can illuminate your pet. (Pet faces window, photographer sits between window and pet with back to the window.) When indoors, daytime is best. That light can make or break your photo.

  3. If outside—avoid mid-day shots when the sun is high. If mid-day is necessary, try for a shaded area. Otherwise, shoot in low-sun times, 30-60 minutes after sunrise, 30-60 minutes before sunset. Those times are the “Golden Hour” when light is most flattering.

  4. Indoors or out, shoot at the pet’s eye-level. Doing so best captures their personality and affords the best eye contact. Kirsten warns this can be tricky, but the results are worth the added effort. You explore “their world” when you’re at their level.

  5. Shots from above are OK, for variety. Just make sure your light source is illuminating your pet. Try for an overhead and one at their level.

  6. Active shots are wonderful. Catching them in action is fun. It also saves a lot of hassle.

  7. If you’re sold on a pose, brush up on your commands such as “sit” and “stay.” Your dog should have those mastered to take a posed photo.

What is the single-most important thing to remember when photographing your pet? “Patience,” says Kirsten. “Your pet doesn’t necessarily want to do what you want them to do right off the bat. They may not be cooperative at first. Go back to it later, then.” One look at Kirsten’s Pet Portfolio and you’ll see she practices what she preaches.

Meanwhile, what to do with all those proliferating pet pictures? Talk to Beth. She’ll show you a dazzling array of pet photo displays ranging from framed prints and calendars to cards and digital books. And now, with the onslaught of COVID-19, you may be ready for a project that brightens your day.

Let’s get started. Contact us today:, visit our website or call: 612-616-1215.


6 views0 comments


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page