10 gorgeous pet pictures you cannot create with a phone camera.

You may wonder how to take the best photos of your dog or cat. This article explains why taking pictures with your phone camera is not a replacement for professional pet photography.

Marcel van der Stroom
Marcel van der Stroom

Founder and CEO of Progress Through Photography. Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) and graduate student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism / ASU.

Why cellphone cameras are not the answer for all photographic challenges

There is some common wisdom in the fact that “the best camera is the one that you have with you”. While it is certainly true that you can’t take photos with a camera that you left at home, the quality of the photos taken with cellphones is often less than desirable for use other than sharing on social media.

In this article I will make the case for professional photographic equipment (and a professional using it) – by listing 10 things that are simply not possible with today’s cellphone cameras.

The history of cellphone cameras

But first, let’s take a step back. According to an article in digital trends – the first cell phone with a built-in camera was manufactured by Samsung and released in South Korea in June of 2000. The SCH-V200 flipped open to reveal a 1.5-inch TFT-LCD, and the built-in digital camera was capable of taking 20 photos at 350,000-pixel resolution, which is 0.35-megapixels, but you had to hook it up to a computer to get your photos. The camera and the phone components were essentially separate devices housed in the same body.

Anno 2021, some phone cameras have sensors with specs similar to professional grade DSLR’s and mirror-less cameras – or even more – but megapixels are only part of the story – more on that below.

The pro’s and con’s of cellphone cameras

You can take pretty good pictures with a phone camera, but it is not a replacement for a dedicated camera or studio. There are many pro’s and cons of cellphone cameras vs. professional grade cameras. This article does a pretty good job summarizing it. Cellphone cameras aren’t always bad, but they lack certain characteristics that you need to create professional level portraits of your pets.

What can you control with professional grade equipment ?

While there are always coming more apps on the market to control your phone camera, the level of control you have with a professional grade camera body, optics and lighting is far superior.

Things you can’t achieve with a cellphone: Shutter speed control

1. Show off your pet’s athleticism in running pictures:

Dogs just love to run. It must be so much easier, and so much more fun with four legs. With control over your shutter speed (in the picture below 1/800th of a second) you can freeze the motion and show off the joy of your dog.

running dog

2. Show their craziest faces during playtime:

Get one of their best buddies, a few toys and a yard and you have entertainment for a while. Dogs and cats just love to play. Unfortunately, they do it so fast that we miss most of it !

3. Show their skills catching treats:

Catching treats is fun – for you and your dog. It builds a bond and it helps develop motor skills for your dog. Just don’t overdo it – you don’t want to end up with a fat dog!

Things you can’t achieve with a cellphone: Aperture control

Yes, there is a portrait mode on most cellphones nowadays, which simulates the large apertures and creates a ‘bokeh-like’ blurring effect. But there is more to aperture than that .

4. Use a small aperture to capture all details.

Your pet is awesome. So why not capture some of their awesomeness on photo. By choosing the aperture wisely, in combination with the right lens and lighting, you can capture the smallest detail of their fur, their eyes and other features.

5. Use a large aperture to create gorgeous blur

As we mentioned above, some cellphones mimic this effect trough software, but it doesn’t come close to the real thing. Below is a portrait shot at an F/2.5 aperture which shows how beautiful a blurry background can be.

Without light there is no photography. But not all light is created equally. While all cellphones have additional light built-in (the flash), using on-camera flash can often lead to unflattering results.

6. Use a powerful off-camera flash to shoot into the sunset

Who doesn’t like a gorgeous sunset with your favorite hiking buddy. The gorgeous light of a setting sun can create a powerful glow but can also lead to your dog looking like a silhouette. Adding off-camera light that can light up your subject from the front, while maintaining the sunset feel is the answer.

outdoor pet portrait

7. Use off-camera flash to create moody low-key portraits

With the right placement of lights and correct choice of shutter speed / aperture, you can create gorgeous moody portraits that portray the true spirit of your pet.

8. Use off-camera flash to create bright and clean studio portraits

If you light up the background and the subject, you can create a clean, sharp portrait with that you can use online with a nice clean white background.

Things you can’t achieve with a cellphone: Purpose specific lenses

9. Ultra Wide-angle shots to create the funniest faces

Choosing a low camera view point and using a very wide focal length (~20mm or less) you can create a funny perspective that makes your pet look so cute !

10. Super-telezoom shots to go full pupparazi and capture your pet off guard

The advantage of telezoom lenses go beyond wildlife photography. If you are looking for something that does not feel ‘staged’, a long lens can be useful to capture your pet in his/her most natural state. Extra bonus: the long focal length creates gorgeous blur !

So, all I have to do is buy expensive equipment and that’s it?

Unfortunately not. There’s much more to it – knowledge of composition, light, color combinations, perspective, editing, printing.

But the good news is that we offer photography sessions starting at $89 – you can learn more about our pricing and book a shoot here.

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