From dogs and cats to rabbits and guinea pigs, documenting the foibles of your pets is both a fun activity for you and a great way to brighten someone else’s day. While buying Instagram likes is a million dollar business, with thousands of people resorting to the tactic on a daily basis, why buy likes when you can get them for free with your talent?

While you spend time fiddling with your camera or phone, your furry beloved has moved on to bigger and better things, like napping in the sink, or something else equally cute. Your dreams of immortalizing your pet on Instagram have been dashed again, but we have some tips for helping you get the best photos of your pets.

1. Keep It Natural

Don’t wait for your furry friend to pose for the camera. Capture your pet’s everyday activities—after all, that’s what you love about them, right? Catch your cat sleeping in sunbeams or your dog chewing on the remote. Their charm and quirkiness can feel hard to capture, but photographing them in their everyday activities is a great way to share a window with your Instagram followers into what makes your relationship with your pets so special.

2. Know Your Camera

Sometimes photo-worthy moments pass by quickly, so it’s important to know how your camera operates and how you can access what you need quickly. There can be a lot of settings, features, and filters, whether it’s a traditional point-and-shoot camera or a smartphone camera. Get to know your camera settings and practice, practice, practice. Even the “not good” photos may turn out to be your favorites. 

3. Use the Sport Setting

Some cameras have a setting that is designed for taking action shots. The camera takes a series of photos quickly, which is great if you have a frisky pet in motion. You’re more likely to get at least one good shot out of it, as opposed to a series of blurry images. 

4. Keep Your Pet Happy

This may seem obvious, but your pet should always be happy and comfortable. Sure, that taco costume looks cute, but if Missy doesn’t go for it, don’t force it. Also, beware of anything dangling that could prove to be a tempting choking hazard. For dogs, you may have some success with bribery. The promise of treats will make an even partially well-behaved dog sit still for a few seconds, and cats might pay attention to treats or toys.

5. Try Different Angles

Don’t just take pictures looking down at your pets. You’re a lot taller than them, you know? Get on their level, get up close, or try shooting from a different angle altogether. Experimenting sometimes brings the best results, so take time to explore and just play. It’s a great way to bond further with your pets.

6. Lighting

Lighting is key in any kind of photography. Morning and late afternoon are great times to shoot. Don’t forget to turn your flash off. Humans don’t particularly like dozens of flashes going off in their faces, so we’re assuming your pets don’t either. If you’re looking for a posed photograph, try placing your pet near a large window or an open door.

In short, be patient, take lots of pictures, and have fun!

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