Pet Photography Project 52, Week 38: The Eyes Have It

“When I look into the eyes of an animal, I do not see an animal. I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul,” said Anthony Douglas Williams. Pet photographers, particularly, know how true this statement is. When it comes to capturing the heart and soul of any animal, the eyes truly have it.

Week 38’s theme of the Pet Photography 52 Weeks Project blog circle was eyes,  or “the windows to our souls as the saying goes, and it’s never more clearly the case than with animals.” Participants  were reminded that it is within them where “we can read all the emotions…of an animal” and were directed to show us these very emotions.

Hunter’s eyes are one of the physical traits of his that most people notice first (aside from how much he sheds). With their rich amber color, I admit they certainly do catch your attention. Since fall hasn’t it paced itself very well in western Pennsylvania, a warm, vibrant cover of leaves has already decorated our backyard, and I thought I’d use them to my advantage as their color really complements Hunter’s eyes (that, yes–are really that orange).

Siberian retriever with orange eyes dog portrait among colorful fall leaves

If you want to capture beautiful, bright-eyed images of your own pooch, keep the following three tips in mind.

1. Avoid flash.

Not only can a bright flash scare your dog, it is a guaranteed way to cause a dreaded green, yellow, or orange “eyeshine” similar to red-eye in humans. Rely on natural light instead, either by stepping outside or facing your pup toward a well-lit window or open door. Doing so will also help create “catchlights, ” a white highlight that appears in the eyes to add dimension.

Related: Pet Photography Project 52, Week 22: Colorful

2. Nail the Focus

While you may be inclined to let your camera focus on your dog’s nose, especially if you have a long-headed breed, it’s the actual eyes that should be the sharpest. The eyes should be the sharpest feature in any portrait image, human or animal, as they are truly the window to the soul, as the old saying goes. Animals, in particular, have the most expressive eyes and you can easily create an emotional connection by nailing the focus.

3. Utilize a macro lens or your phone’s macro feature.

If you own a macro lens for your camera, pull it out now and then to craft unique and eye-catching images of details and features that you may not necessarily notice on a daily basis. Capture details like eyelashes or fill the frame with the eye. Don’t worry if you don’t have a professional quality lens; most phone cameras now include a macro option that allows you to get in close.

Related: Pet Photography Project 52, Week 49: Get Closer

If you’d like more tips on photographing your pet, be sure to join my mailing list via the popup on my homepage. A complimentary copy of “7 Tips for Better Pet Photos” will be sent to your inbox automatically.


The Pet Photography Project 52 posts are part of a blog circle. To see what the next pawesome pet photographer is sharing for the weekly theme, “Eyes,” start with Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati and the San Francisco Bay Area, and the author of Rescue Dogs: Portraits and Stories. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle and you’ll eventually find your way back here.

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