Behind the Scenes of Amazing Pet Portraits

If you own a pet, you've definitely taken a picture of him or her more than once. Belgian photographer Vincent Lagrange does just that for all sorts of animals as a big part of his career.Like so many of us, I was raised around animals; cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, even a chinchilla. I would always snap pictures of them on a disposable camera if I could find one and even today, the first thing I do when I receive a new piece of equipment is to test it on my cat, Effie. Well, Lagrange does engaging studio portraits of other people's pets and in this video you get to go behind the scenes.

I'd talk more about pet photography, but honestly, I'd rather just show you some more of his work!

Beautiful studio portraiture of furry friends. Share you favorite pet portrait in the comments.

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Jay Sullivan's picture

I photograph shelter dogs. It’s the most rewarding and satisfying work I’ve ever done.

Gion-Andri Derungs's picture

Love them! from left to right: The Shy, the curious, the I-don't-care puppy... ;)

Only problem I'd have with photographing shelter dogs is that I'd take them all home with me.

I photograph for local rescue groups. It’s so much fun, and I love seeing them go to new homes! This boy was an adoption return, but got adopted out again just a week later. He was awesome!

Jose Luis Cantabrana's picture

So one of the tips is using natural light as he doesn't use flash, but more than 60% of his portfolio is with artificial light. Lol

It's probably just an octabox shaped window in his ceiling. ;)

Paul Lindqvist's picture

Well, he did say he did not use flash, but I did not hear him say he said he used natural light only. So he's not against artificial light, but rather against flash for animals.

Jose Luis Cantabrana's picture

So he rather not using the flash for the animals but he uses it in most of his work? I wanna see that beautiful portrait of the cat, that I really really like, taken with natural light. You cannot promote yourself with that photo and make a behind the scenes saying to avoid flash.

Paul Lindqvist's picture

Why do you assume he uses flash for most of his work?

Could you please link to the segment where he specifies he uses natural light?

Some of you seem to be totally oblivious to the fact that there are more types of lights than strobes.. ever heard of HMI and Arri cans? Yes, you can use modifiers on them as well, shocker...

I recently tried photographing my cat with a flash, and he half blinked in every single photo. They must have sharper reactions than us mere humans. I suspect you're right Paul, that he's using a fixed artificial light rather than a strobe, and possibly for this reason.

Edit: Just read in one of the Instagram comments that he says he uses "profoto daylight". I'm presuming that's a Profoto ProDaylight Air, which can be used as a video light.

Paul Lindqvist's picture

Tom HM Yeah he uses Profoto as well as Arri. On the note of photographing cats/dogs with strobes, I think it's very individual as I 'v photographed cats with no issues at all. Also, know people who photograph dogs with strobes.

But in terms of not disturbing the animal as little as possible, constant light seems to the logic choice.

Agreed. The catchlights in the eyes definitely show an octa, but he may be using continuous lights and not strobes.

Lee Christiansen's picture

I was curious about his natural light comments too. Many of those images show strobe modifiers in the catchlights.

How do animals react with strobes? I might assume that confident animals like dogs / cats might just ignore them. And with animals that we can't teach how to stay perfectly still, would strobe not help us freeze any small movements to get the sharpness of fine hairs etc?

Something I thought might be fun to try - given how much some of my headshot clients drive me mad... surely dogs can't be any worse at a pose than some of my human clients. At least they won't try and pout at me... :)

Marc Perino's picture

I wondered about this too.
The only other explanation could be continous light. 🤷‍♂️

Deleted Account's picture

I had to once shoot 50odd dogs at a dog event. I used studio flash, Not one seemed bothered at all.
Ok, not the posed masterpieces we see here as a lot of time and quiet is given to each sitting.
I had the dogs come on, have a good sniff around and then they were told to sit by the owners and I made the shots.

Chris Holland's picture

I've used a speedlight bounced off of a wall with my cats, and they don't seem to care.

melinda brown's picture

This is just my experience, we can all find our own techniques... But in shooting horses- they are big strong flight response animals with round eyes. Most will stand as in the ring and jumping with no reaction. But I find it makes more sense to avoid the one animal that will react to a strobe they hate umbrellas ...and can seriously hurt your client who is most often on the other end of the lead line. Also, I go to their homes. the horse and dog gestures naturally with its neck and head I need to be able to move to capture their expression of elegance. A set light would not allow the best control of that and on camera flash- ugh forget the eyes.
Venture at barn- not weaned from the mare she is in a stall in back, this situation needs to be understood that the mare is in distress for her foal and the foal is completely untrained so you dont want to go far and you want your handler- the owner- to be safe and comfortable- also the foal = this foal is worth over 100k.
Sunlight comes over the peak of the barn and backlights.
Canon Mark III, 100mm fixed 2.8, f5.6, 400iso, 320 shutter

This is a beautiful image. I don’t have experience photographing horses, but I do know they spook easily.

melinda brown's picture

thanks for the video. I also believe in natural light, quiet and seeing what the animal will give back to you. It has always surprised me when some immediately recognize that I admire them. Some pose so much you have to laugh a little. ( mainly horses but all animals are welcome)

Gilad Koriski's picture

I have animal images I shot scattered through my site, here's one of the sweetest that I shot right after a professional portrait shoot, she brought her adorable dogie with her and after we were done I asked her to pose for a few clicks with him. Another favorite set of mine is on my blog

He's amazing. I agree with the comments that softboxes are used, the evidence in the eyes. It might be continuous lighting. I am a working dog portrait pro and 95% of my clients are unaffected by the strobe pops. Cats, on the other hand, seem to have a bad reaction for me and i have followed several cat photographers who seem to work with continuous lighting.

I photograph for local rescue groups, so I sometimes get to bring them to my studio space (AKA 1/2 of a spare bedroom) to photograph. I love getting images that can help them find new homes. This boy was an adoption return, but got adopted out again very quickly!

I have never seen such amazing and beautiful pet portraits before :)

Great work, I'll definitely make sure to take a look at your Etsy page (if you have one?).

Have a wonderful day, and make sure to let me know if you do!

I'm actually a pet portrait artist myself, but I'm nowhere near as good as you with a brush.

I only work in Photoshop. Just thought I'd let you know since you haven't gotten any comments to the post yet.

SketchGrowl Pet Portraits

Janny Collins's picture

Wow! It's so amazing!

Very love such photos of the pets!

It would be great if you will doing posts like this sometimes per month or week!

Janny Collins