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Allow me to introduce you to our subject of the day. Meet Nigel. He is a 16-week-old fawn Great Dane puppy and has spent quite a bit of time in front of my lens lately. We’ll be showcasing photos of him using the Crimson Seamless Paper with the Worn Planks Floor Drop and discussing pet photography tips to make your life easier.

Photo by Ryan Walsh, Featuring Crimson Seamless Paper

I’ve had a few colleagues ask me lately about shooting pets in studio and asking about my experience with backdrop options. While I typically shoot pets outdoors more often than studio, sometimes weather and natural light simply don’t cooperate in our Phoenix summers with triple digit heat and harsh direct sunlight.

My goal with these photos was to create something with a softer appeal that looked less studio but still simple and clean and using materials that would hold up to the abuse of a puppy that will not hold still!

Photo by Ryan Walsh, Featuring Worn Planks Floor Drop

Here we paired the Worn Planks Floor Drop with the Crimson paper.  I chose this pair because the floor drop has nice warm brown tones with high contrast and a linear pattern that helps composition, and the Crimson is a deep red tone with just enough vibrancy to create nice color contrast against the wood and the blonde-like fur of our subject. I adjusted the red hue in Lightroom to fine tune color to warm it up just a little as Crimson has a little bit of a pinkish red than warm orange red. The use of the floor drop over the seamless paper was to help durability with an active puppy and also add a little personality to feel more like a real setting. I pulled the paper down and taped the edges with gaffers tape and laid the floor drop over it and taped the edges of that too- it kept things flat and in place while we worked with him.

Photo by Ryan Walsh

Pets respond well to the floor drops because they are soft and non-slippery, plus they won’t rip and tear like paper will if they move a lot on it. While taking photos of Nigel, my calico kitty, Piper, decided she wanted to join in too – they really love the floor drops. Vinyl backdrops are also a great durable alternative to seamless paper for when you need more traditional studio results without floor drops. White vinyl especially helps because you can wipe it off if it gets dirty.

Lighting Tips for Pets:

1. I highly recommend a single light setup along with a large reflector for fill – simple to setup and easy to modify for different effects.  This also takes up less space so you can move around as needed when your subject moves. If you don’t have studio lights you can use a hot shoe flash and bounce off the ceiling or wall for softer light.

Photo by Ryan Walsh

2. If shooting with strobe, always make sure you have sufficient ambient light in the studio when you shoot or make sure your modeling lamp is turned on so that your subjects pupils don’t enlarge and make it more difficult for animal “red eye.” 

3. Paramount/ Butterfly lighting pattern works well because it will look good regardless of how the subjects turns or moves. 

4. Split or Rembrandt style lighting works well if your subject is lying down or at least sitting still where you have more time and you know they won’t quickly move or turn too far away from your key light.

Photo by Ryan Walsh


Ryan Walsh

Ryan holds a Bachelors in Marketing from Grand Canyon University, graduating on the dean's list. He has been providing professional photography services starting in 2003 and internet marketing services starting in 2007. His experience in specific industries provides him with unique insight for practical application of photography as it applies to modern advertising mediums and business needs. Check out his website and follow Ryan on social media!

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