One of our specialties at Photos by Bur’den, and a growing photography trend, is pet photography. Our professional animal and dog photographer is dedicated to capturing unique and beautiful portraits, as they happen.  At Photos by Bur’den, we  love your pets like you do.  We want the whole photographic experience to be pleasant for you and your pet.  Be prepared to let us take care of your pet during your photo session. We want both you and your pet to have a good experience and  want to come back!.

Pet photography sessions are held at our studio in Belmont – just north of Grand Rapids, Michigan. In most cases, we can also travel to nearby locations. For more examples of pet portraits from professional Michigan dog photographer Cindy Bur’den, check out our
Pets for Vets section!

You cannot make photos happen, you have to let them.

Animals & Pets

Pet Photography Tips from a Professional Dog Photographer

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Preparing for a Pet Photography Session

Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing for your professional pet photography session:

  • Cleanliness: You may want to consider bathing, brushing, or grooming your pet prior to your photography session. Cleaned and well groomed pets photograph beautifully, and ensure your pet looks his/her best.

  • Relax: Animals are like little emotional sponges. If you are stressed and anxious, they will sense it, causing them to be distracted and making it much more difficult to capture good portraits. 

  •  Toys:  Bring attention grabbing toys that your pet enjoys.  This will help in getting your pet to look in the direction of the camera.

  • Treats: If your pet has a favorite treat, bring that as a reward.  Treats will also aid in capturing your pet’s attention and getting them to look at the camera.



Pet and dog photographer Cindy Bur’den has seen it all during her pet portrait sessions! Whether you are working with a dog, cat, bird, or other animal, here are some of her tips for capturing the best animal photos:

  • Focus on eyes and expressions: The eyes are the most expressive part of an animal’s face, so if you want to create really engaging pet portraits, focus on the eyes and facial expressions.

  • Get rid of clutter first: Before you begin taking photos, take a look around at your shooting location, and remove clutter and distracting objects.

  • Shoot in their world:  While a few shots looking down at your pet when you are standing can be cute – to create the really engaging portraits, shoot the pictures at their level.

  • Be flexible and do some stretching first: Be prepared to get those muscles working in order to get the perfect composition!.  Warming up your muscles and stretching a little before you will begin will help you to move into your subject's world. 

  • Go where the light is best: Avoid photographing in dark rooms or under heavily overcast days.

  • Pay your model: Every animal needs to have some sort of motivation to pay attention to you during the shoot. The biggest ‘trick’ in pet and dog photography is to fool the animal into thinking that they are making the decisions, when it’s really you that is motivating them to do what you want.

  • Create a concept and a shot list: The most engaging animal imagery shows them in context. If you can say something with your images, they will speak to you on a deeper emotional level.

  • Be quiet: Try communicating with the pets the way they communicate with each other- non-verbally. Use hand signals or point to invite them ‘over here’.

  •  Move slowly: Moving slowly around animals while taking pictures helps to keep them calm, and helps prevent them from thinking you are trying to play.