Beautiful Beasties Cover Image

I think anyone who snaps photos longs to take shots that are amazing. With the invention of digital cameras, amateurs like me can take some pretty great pictures, but to get to the point of amazing, most will need a bit of instruction.

There are some basics of photography that apply no matter what subject you’re shooting. The rule of thirds for one. It applies whether you’re shooting a fabulous old barn in an amazing field of grass or a photo of your child. But when it comes to taking pictures of your pets, there are some hints and tips to lift your photos out of the amateur ranks.

I got the chance to check out a new book which spotlights pet photos called Beautiful Beasties: A Creative Guide to Modern Pet Photography, written by  Jamie Pflughoeft (pronounced “flew-hoff”), owner and operator of and Seattle-based Cowbelly Pet Photography. Pflughoeft intended the book to be a comprehensive guide for professional pet photographers, but there’s plenty in here for the rest of us as well.

Pflughoeft’s writing style is loose and warm with the feeling that you’re sitting next to her while she explains the complicated camera settings with ease. She discusses basics that make my head spin, but she does it in a reassuring manner that makes me think that by the time I finish the book, I’ll really understand it. She shares her take on what equipment is necessary including camera bodies, lenses, accessories, and more. She also gives suggestions on post-production to make the process easier and more efficient.

The chapters of the Beautiful Beasties book flow easily from one subject to another in a logical manner starting with what to do before a shooting session, how to handle the lighting, help with composition, and how to develop your own personal style. In addition to these basics, she delves deeply into the pet portion sharing information about pet behavior and their body language and how to take great shots of your own pet.

For the pro, Pflughoeft provides help with portfolio building, assistance in the start-up process, aid in determining your expenses. Maybe more importantly, she helps step you through the process of how to work with customers, price your work, and brand and market yourself.

Great tips for improving composition - Beautiful Beasties

Great tips for improving composition – Beautiful Beasties

Beautiful Beasties is full of fabulous photos, great examples, and comparison shots so you can see for yourself how changing a few key settings can make huge changes in your photos. While I don’t plan on ever becoming a pet photographer, I do plan on pouring over this book and learning more that will improve all of my photos and most especially those I take of my pets.  There were several things that jumped off the page and things I’ll incorporate – the simplest is “tell a story.” I’m going to be working on adding that aspect to my photos, especially my pet shots.

Connect with Jamie Pflughoeft

Beautiful Beasties: A Creative Guide to Modern Pet Photography

  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (September 11, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0470932279 / ISBN-13: 978-0470932278