Pets can be difficult to photograph. Once, someone quoted me $US1000 for a pet portrait! The NYTimes has a long interview with Li Ward on how to do it best.
Ward is a photographer of pets for Fat Orange Cat Studios. The photos are ok. But she's got some good advice over there:
I also almost always shoot in burst mode, usually in slow burst at 2 to 3 frames per second.
I end up doing a lot of gymnastics during a shoot. I'm crouching, kneeling, on my back, on my side, waking up sore the next morning.
I sort of treat my still camera as a video camera. Even if I'm not actively shooting, and even if the subject is not doing something "capture-worthy," I continue tracking through the viewfinder and recomposing. Because soon enough they will do something capture-worthy, and I'll be ready to press the shutter the second it happens.
Treats, ham, roast beef, squeaky toys, patience. With dogs, I like making meowing sounds. Seems to get their attention every time, and as a bonus, they give the quizzical head tilt. It's a little trickier with cats because if you make an attention-making noise more than even once, they will ignore you thereafter.
I am reminded, reading all of this, of how insane pet owners are, and how a the professional pet photographer is an unsung hero of portraiture. Their subjects are only somewhat less difficult than what Annie Leibovitz has to deal with when photographing rock and movie stars.
There is the greater question of why people don't just buy nice DSLRs and take photos of their own pets. But I suppose all the tricks and tips in here—far greater in number and substance than you'd assume a list could be for mere humans—are the answer. [NYT]