The art of taking good pet pictures

Whether they are of my family’s pets or others, I love dog and cat photos.

Like most pet owners, I can’t remember seeing a bad pet photo. I remember bad photos of my husband, Ed, and myself, but not of Teddy, our Lab, or Pip, our domestic short hair cat.

Over the years, from taking photos of my family’s pets or having professional photographers do it, I’ve learned two things: A good pet photo depends on camera expertise and a photographer who has worked with pets beyond taking their pictures.

One such photographer is Kali Giesecke of Pawz to Pose Pet Photography in Fairborn. I discovered Kali in Doster Magazine’s “Top Dog” featured reader section.

She describes herself as a professional dog trainer who advocates for all dogs to have the best lives possible. She writes on, “I love that I get to spend most of my time helping dogs have a better life with their family. I am passionate about canine enrichment and couldn’t imagine not working with dogs. I love to learn about dogs, their behaviors, their mind, and their potential.”

She described how her favorite photos to take are of dogs taking part in sports, particularly the American Kennel Club’s Fast cat and dock diving. The former is a timed 100‑yard dash where dogs run one at a time, chasing a lure. “It’s over before you know it,” the AKC describes it, “and it’s nothing short of awe‑inspiring to watch your dog run at top speed, ears back, eyes focused, legs strong.”

Janelle Leeson at explains dock diving “as a combination of sprinting, leaping and swimming. Dogs zoom down a platform before jumping into water to retrieve a high‑reward toy. The pup that launches itself the longest distance or the highest before making a splash wins the competition.”

Kali travels to 15 to 20 of these events each year. She primarily stays in the Midwest but has driven as far as North Carolina to photograph these activities.

I like that she doesn’t limit her photo shoots to just sporting events. She takes private family photos. Organizations hire her for their parties and fundraising activities.

She doesn’t limit her photo shoots to canines either, having photographed cats, goats and quail.

I have always wanted to take photos of Teddy running after a ball. Our backyard is long and narrow with lots of trees on one side. It’s the perfect setup for the perfect photo. But as much as I’ve tried, I just can’t get the shot.

With fingers crossed, I asked Kali.

I watched her first play with Teddy. Giving him the occasional treat, letting him get used to her. This is one of the reasons she doesn’t limit the time she spends in a photo session.

She explained that dogs need to feel comfortable with you and the environment or you won’t get a good shot.

Each time she showed Teddy the camera, she gave him a treat. Kali never put the camera over his head, a dominant move that could have made the pooch nervous.

Ed threw Teddy’s favorite ball multiple times down our yard, and as Teddy ran after it, Kali snapped multiple photos. The sky was ablaze in golden hues from the colored leaves and the slowly setting sun. I had my fingers crossed for that perfect picture.

I did not need to. I not only got my perfect picture, but multiple ones.

Karin Spicer is a member of The Dog Writers Association of America. She is lives with her family and two furry pets who inspire her. She can be reached at

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