7 Great Hacks for Taking the Best Pet Photos on iPhone

7 Great Hacks for Taking the Best Pet Photos on iPhone

Just can’t just get enough of your furbaby, can you? Make good use of your iPhone camera and flex your baby on social media, website, or even physical photo albums. Let us help you take the best pet photos on iPhone. Follow our 7 tips below!

snoebelle - pet photos on iPhone - husky on grass
My name is Snoe Belle. Follow me on Instagram and Facebook!

How to take the best pet photos using an iPhone camera

With the new iPhone models and iOS 14, you can have an array of tools for taking the best pet photos on iPhone. Use these great hacks to display your precious furry baby in the best way. 

1. Take inspiration from pet celebrities on social media.

pet celebrities on IG - grumpy cat, white coffee cat, and jiff pom
Grumpy Cat, White Coffee Cat, and Jiff Pom

Ever heard of the Grumpy Cat (Rest in peace), White Coffee Cat, or Jiff Pom on Instagram? They all have a combined total of 14 million followers—and not without good reason, of course. 

While they’re obviously adorable and hilarious, they’re also famous because their furparents take excellent pet photos on iPhone. So, why not observe the most successful pet celebrities—and take a few pointers on how to take good pictures? 

Don’t worry, we did the hard work for you. Here are some things we observed from adorable pet accounts: 

They rarely use wide-angle shots. 

Most of the photos are close-up, medium, or full-body shots. While still cute and great for putting variety to your gallery or Instagram feed, wide-angle shots will have your followers squinting. So, it’s better if you use this angle sparingly if you want to upload the pet photos on iPhone.

The photos are well-lit and exposed just enough. 

Pets like dogs and cats are so irresistible with their colorful and round eyes. This is probably why the best pet photos on iPhone are bright and tastefully exposed, which makes their eyes’ details look more pronounced. In the following items, we’ll teach you how to take well-exposed and focused pet photos on your iPhone camera.

Plain backgrounds with solid, pastel colors look better. 

Like a portrait photo of a human subject, pets will look better if the background serves as, well, a background. We particularly like this photo of Coffee a.k.a. White Coffee Cat. 

View this post on Instagram

Caption this 😆

A post shared by Coffee aka Mr. White (@white_coffee_cat) on

He just looks so endearing with his standing posture and little tie. What makes this photo so eye-catching is the plain background. It allows Coffee to stand out easily. 

To sum it up, the keys to successful pet photos is the right angle, exposure, and plain backgrounds. Take note of these when you snap pet photos on iPhone, okay? Now, if you have the latest iPhone models, read on. 

Related: How to make money with iPhone photos: the complete guide

2. Use the Pet Portrait Mode on your iPhone

iPhone X, XS, and XS Max may have commendable cameras because of the portrait modes—sadly, they can’t detect pets. 

Apple changed that in the more recent models by equipping the iPhone 11 and later models with better semantic rendering and an ultra-wide angle camera. That means the camera systems of the later iPhones are now more capable of detecting pets and other non-living things. It’s like the cameras were given a new pair of “eyeglasses.”

The result is a special portrait mode called Pet Portrait Mode. It’s convenient for taking random photos and especially for avoiding the hassle of customizing camera settings. Now, how does it work? Don’t worry, it’s easy.

How to use pet portrait mode on iPhone 11

  1. Launch your camera app. 
  2. Swipe to Portrait Mode. 
  3. Position your pet where your iPhone can detect their whole face.
  4. Point your camera to your pet.
  5. The lighting effects will then appear at the bottom of your camera’s viewfinder. 
  6. Tap the shutter to capture.
  7. The result will be a photo with an artificial depth. A perfect portrait of your doggo or cat!

Related: 10 Tips For Beautiful Pictures Of A Black Dog With iPhone

3. Take the photos during the day and outside.

We know you can’t always explore these days with your pet like you used to. However, if you want to take the best pet photos on iPhone, nature and natural light are still your best friends. If you work at home and have a yard, it’s always the best option for you to take your photo there—instead of a room with natural light. 

On the other hand, if you live in an apartment with no greenery or common yard, find a quiet place nearby. Look for a spot with just the right amount of foliage and you can take photos there. Just make sure you scan the area first without your pet, so you can make sure it’s safe for them. 

Don’t forget your gear, too. Bring a flexible iPhone tripod if you’re going to explore an area with lots of trees or bushes. A flexible tripod can help you take photos from interesting angles because it can wrap itself around a tree branch or a door handle. Of course, you can also opt for a tripod with straight legs, but the flexible tripod is just handier. 

Meanwhile, if you’re planning to explore watery areas like lakes, rivers, or seashores, invest in an IP68 waterproof case. Wouldn’t it be precious to take photos of your doggo splashing and running around the white sand shores? To take the best pet photos on iPhone with confidence, make sure your phone is protected with a great waterproof case.

Related: iPhone Photos in Low Light: Practical Tips and Brilliant Hacks

4. Set up a DIY studio in your home. 

pug on photo studio - pet photos on iPhone

While we believe that outside is the best place for taking photos of your pets, it’s not just convenient for everyone. For example, some of you might live in small apartments or condos with no yard. Plus you can’t go outside and expect bright sunshine all the time. 

Don’t worry because there’s a better alternative—where you can control the lighting and still take the best pet photos on iPhone. You can always set up a DIY photo studio for your pet at home! 

Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • A flexible iPhone tripod or an iPhone tripod and selfie stick in one. These are both handy for taking pet photos on iPhone at your apartment or house. It will also help if you can buy a mat for your tripod so that it won’t slip. Tripods have anti-skid legs, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
  • Selfie light with a stand or a clip-on selfie ring light. A selfie light with a stand also comes with a phone adapter, so it can serve as a tripod for your iPhone as well. A clip-on selfie ring light is handier since you can easily bring it anywhere. 
  • A sturdy table. If you have a small dog, cat, or mouse, you will need a sturdy, anti-skid table on which they can sit and pose. You can also drape any cloth or fur blanket on it, spread their favorite toys, and take photos.  
  • The bribes or their favorite treats. To save time, you must plan their poses ahead. You can even make a storyboard. But to make them follow those poses, you will need to bribe them with their favorite treats. So, grab a bag or two when you’re shopping for supplies!
  • Backdrop stand/crossbar. Have the budget and extra space? You can invest in a backdrop stand. You can easily find a kit on Amazon, which includes a sandbag and a carry bag. Check out this backdrop kit from Emart
  • Muslin backdrop. Planning to get a backdrop stand? Complete it with a muslin backdrop. The most common colors you will find online are black, white, and green. We mentioned above that you should choose solid or pastel colors for your backdrops. However, if you can’t find any, you can choose a green muslin backdrop and just edit it using a chroma key effect on a photo editing app. You can add fun backgrounds like space, offices, gardens, etc. 
  • Extra light sources. Ambient light, sunshine, and selfie ring lights will be more than enough for taking photos inside a house. However, you can always opt for extra lighting for more creativity. You can add colorful LED strip lights. Just make sure to secure them from a distance to keep curious furbabies at bay. 

Using those gears and gadgets, you can take the best pet photos on iPhone. Of course, you have to be open to sloppy firsts. But these gears will give you a great headstart!

Related: 12 best selfie lights for iPhone – 2019 review

5. Work with the latest focus and exposure controls. 

If you have Portrait Mode on your iPhone, you will find learning about focus a bit unnecessary. That is because Portrait Mode lets you capture depth in photos easily since it detects subjects in the foreground and blurs the background for you. 

However, if you have an older iPhone model, you can make your pet photos on iPhone more eye-catching by learning how to work with focus and exposure. By doing this, you’ll improve the sharpness and exposure of your pet photos. You won’t even need to post-process the clarity or brightness of your photos if you master these controls on your iPhone camera. 

Meanwhile, if you own iPhones XS, XS Max, XR, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, and SE 2nd generation, you can also take advantage of the latest iOS 14 camera updates. One of them is locking the focus and the exposure separately. 

Apple made this possible by adding an exposure compensation value (ECV), which you can adjust using the exposure compensation control (ECC). You can now adjust and lock this value for an entire photo-taking session. That means it won’t budge even if you change the focus or take a new photo, as opposed to what happens in the previous iPhone cameras. 

You can now also change the shutter speed and f-stop with the iOS 14! Having a faster shutter speed will help if your pet moves a lot. It will help you capture a lot of action without them looking like a ghost. 

Here are some steps on how to control focus and exposure:

How to control focus on your iPhone camera 

  1. Open your camera app. 
  2. On your iPhone camera’s viewfinder, tap the screen where your pet is located and hold for a few seconds. The subject 
  3. Next, a yellow box indicating “AE/AF lock” will appear on your subject. That means your focus is now locked, but you can still control the exposure without messing it up. 

How to adjust exposure on your iPhone camera 

  1. When you press an area in your viewfinder for a few seconds, a yellow box with an exposure slider will appear. This will lock the area of focus, but you can still adjust the exposure. 
  2. Drag the sun icon up or down to make the whole photo brighter or darker. 
  3. Now, to lock the exposure compensation value, tap the arrow that points upward on your viewfinder. 
  4. Next, tap the plus and minus button. Move the slider to adjust your photo’s exposure. 
  5. This will lock the exposure even in your future photo-taking sessions. Meanwhile, you can also preserve the settings of your exposure control via going to Settings > Camera > Preserve Settings > Toggle Exposure Adjustment.


Complete guide to capturing depth in iPhone photography
How to Take Amazing Macro Photos with an iPhone
Complete Guide to Close Up iPhone Photography: A Must-Read

6. Use third-party manual camera apps. 

dog and cat

Your iSight camera, the native camera app on your iPhone, sure has improved in recent years. However, a couple of third-party camera apps feature more manual controls than your iSight camera. 

Manual camera apps are better for taking pet photos because some animals have darker coats like dogs, cats, or crows. Thus, they are harder to shoot, especially in areas with limited lighting. However, by using a manual camera app on your iPhone, you can control more elements such as the white balance values. As a result, you won’t feel limited during post-processing. You can take more photos as many as you want, wherever you want. 

So, even if you like using your iSight camera, you will be missing out on a lot of great shots if you don’t try other camera apps. If you’re still on the fence about using third-party cameras, you can even make two albums for the raw photos you took with your iSight camera and the third-party app. This way, you can compare their differences and decide which camera app can provide your needs in taking photos better.

Here are some third-party manual camera apps we can recommend: 

  1. Halide Camera. Besides having powerful manual controls like ISO, white balance, and exposure, Halide also supports pet portrait mode in later iPhone models. 
  2. Lightroom Mobile. It has a solid built-in camera and editing controls that allow you to adjust many elements in your photos. You can shoot in RAW using the Lightroom camera. 
  3. ProCamera 7. This app also features many manual controls than your iSight camera. You can adjust the white balance values, shutter speed, ISO, exposure, and focus.
  4. Camera+ 2. Like the ProCamera apps, Camera+ 2 is a powerful shooting and editing app for RAW photos. If you have a dual-camera iPhone, you will also have more control with your cameras if you use this app. 
  5. Manual. This app has manual control like others and more to offer. Manual allows you to shoot in RAW or save your photos in HEIF. You can also use fill flash and focus zoom, and view the histogram and level.

Related: How to Change Shutter Speed on iPhone

7. Post-process your raw shots!

We covered pretty much everything from setting up your DIY home studio to using manual camera apps. Of course, this list of great hacks wouldn’t be complete without editing tips. If you take great shots using your iSight camera or manual camera app, editing won’t be necessary. However, you can still post-process if you have a certain look in mind that you can’t achieve during the photo-taking process.

For editing your raw or original photos of your pets on your iPhone, follow these tips:

  • Have a theme in mind. If you want a series of photos to look uniform, you have to set a theme. It can range from vintage to space or morning in the garden. Remember to use one filter to make them coherent. Photoshop Express, VSCO, and Snapseed have some great presets for iOS photos. Meanwhile, the exposure on your camera can also be uniform throughout your photos, thanks to iOS 14. 
  • Don’t be scared of imperfections. The best doesn’t always mean perfect. So, don’t be scared of applying blurs, feathers, light flares, and adding a grainy filter. Use Lightroom Mobile’s Selection Tools to apply brightness, clarity, or overlay filters on selective areas in your photos. 
  • Edit RAW photos with Darkroom. We suggested some third-party camera apps for shooting RAW photos. Now, it’s time to edit them with powerful, comprehensive photo-editing apps like Darkroom. It has a mobile version on the App store and a desktop version, so you will have nothing to worry about if you’re cross-platform editing. 
  • Add more elements using design apps. If you want to add more eye-catching elements such as text and static or animated stickers, we suggest using Canva. It also has plenty of templates if you want to make a greeting card or an invitation card with your adorable pets as the background. The design app has mobile and desktop versions.


Your complete guide to iPhone camera filters
20 Of The Best Photo Editing Apps For Mobile Devices
Top 10 apps similar to Vintage Camera – Dazz App


Taking the best pet photos on iPhone will require preparation, a set of gears, manual camera apps, and RAW editing software. Of course, having patience and knowledge about your pet’s behavior will bring you success in your photo shoots. Good luck!

Related questions

Is there a Pet Portrait Mode on iPhone SE?

No, the iPhone SE doesn’t have a Pet Portrait Mode. It’s available on iPhone X, XS, 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max.

Where is the Pet Portrait Mode on iPhone 11? 

The Pet Portrait Mode can be found on the Portrait Mode of your camera.