At-home photography ideas: Shoot studio-style pet portraits with a single flash

Whether we’re professional photographers or amateurs, right now we’re all looking for new subjects that we can photograph at home. If your family members are tired of sitting for portraits, why not turn next to your furry friends?

The biggest challenge in any environment outside of the studio is controlling ambient light, but here you only need one flash to get great results.

• Have more Home Photography Ideas
• ten
best online photography courses

A home environment can be filled with visual distractions and unphotogenic elements (we’re not saying you’re messy), so we’ll also cover how to work them out of the frame for cleaner compositions.

With a combination of shutter speed, off-camera flash and careful framing, it’s possible to produce images that look like they were shot in a controlled studio, allowing you to work in any conditions – from your living room in confinement.

Step 1: Position your pet

(Image credit: future)

We didn’t have a seamless background at home, but having the cat sitting on a black cushion made it easier to control the brightness of the background, as more light was absorbed by the material dark. Look for items around the house that you can use.

Step 2: Make the flash directional

(Image credit: future)

Attach a wireless trigger to your flash and place it off to the side at a 90° to 45° angle, slightly elevated above the subject and pointing down, roughly where you would place a strobe.

Step 3: Adjust flash zoom

(Image credit: Future/Peter Fenech)

Use the controls on the back of your flash to increase the zoom position of the head. Select the longest zoom setting (in our case it was 105mm) to narrow the beam for a focused effect.

Step 4: Turn off ambient light

(Image credit: Future/Peter Fenech)

Then, increase your shutter speed or reduce the aperture to reduce visible background details. Start by lowering the ISO, choosing the base sensitivity if possible, then the speed or the f-stop if this is insufficient.

Step 5: Increase flash power

(Image credit: Future/Peter Fenech)

To darken the surroundings further, increase the flash output and adjust the camera settings accordingly. This will dominate the ambient lighting even more, to help with the seamless background effect.

Step 6: Focus the light

(Image credit: Future/Peter Fenech)

To further reduce light scatter, consider adding a small flash tip or honeycomb grille to your flash (if you have one). This 9mm model fits directly onto the flash head to create even more focused light.

Step 7: Adjust the white balance

(Image credit: Future/Peter Fenech)

Many home environments have low Kelvin bulbs, which create a warm color cast. Use a Tungsten white balance preset or create a custom setting for a more neutral, studio-like color palette.

Step 8: Adjust your frame

(Image credit: Future/Peter Fenech)

Zoom in on the composition to exclude edge detail and fill the frame with your background (and furry friend). Limiting the context will minimize the need to remove objects when editing images. Take multiple images at a fast continuous burst speed to capture your pet’s perfect pose.

Read more:

Stuck at home: 11 photo projects to try indoors during the COVID-19 crisis
DIY Photography Hack: Add Camera Stabilization to ANY Camera Body!
Photography tips and techniques videos

Comments are closed.