Pet Photography - Theme Catch lights

January 26, 2018  •  16 Comments

This week's theme for Pet Photography is "Catch lights".  For those of you that might not be familiar with this term, that's the reflection of light in the eyes of your subject.  In much of my photography, the catch lights are provided by the sky as this is the primary source when outside and shooting on location.  I have used a small LED panel to provide additional light on my subjects as well as a catch light in the animal's eye.  This is especially helpful in providing some 'life' into the eyes of the subject.

If the animal has very dark eyes, they may appear as 'black holes' with no life.  This does not provide a connection between you as the viewer and the dog (or subject).  It's always best to have some 'life' in the eyes.  The eyes are the window to the soul - how many times have you heard this phrase? 

The eyes of your subject, regardless of whether it is a person or animal, are what we look at first if they are in the photograph.  They need to be in focus if shown in the photograph.  If they aren't then the primary subject you are photographing needs to be in focus and hopefully the eyes are very soft - if not, the photograph may prove to be frustrating for the viewer.

Here's a closeup of the eyes.  The lighted areas of the dog's eyes from the sky (this is an outdoor portrait on location) is the catchlights that provide life to the dog's eyes.

Here's the entire photograph. Notice how the dog's eyes are lit up from the sky outdoors - no special lighting was used, just the outdoor sun and open sky (the photograph was taken in full shade).

Catch lights will look different in the dog's eyes depending on the type of light used to create the catch light.  Some of my portraits use a small LED panel to create a constant light - the purpose is to create a catch light in the eyes. The small rectangle in the dog's eyes are the LED panel held by an assistant (since the dogs move around a bit when photographing on location).  This photograph was captured close to dusk and the sun was no longer providing catch lights.

Here's the entire photograph.

This is a photograph of 'Cord' who is currently in foster care with his brother - Cord and his brother Nic, are available for adoption as a bonded pair (they are brothers and the rescue would like to keep these border collie mixes together).  If you're interested, please contact Maxx and Me at  Just in case you're curious, this is the two boys together.

Nic (on left) has a blue speck on his right eye (that is not a catch light).

For more 'catch lights' pet photographs head over to visit Elayne Massaini Pet Photographer, serving Sao Paulo, Brazil and then head around the rest of the blog circle.

If you would like to book a custom pet portrait session, send an email to [email protected] or give us a call at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).



The first pup is our Brinley :) Your photos really spoke to us and we adopted her in October. We love her so and her eyes are super special. Thank you for capturing her so beautifully in the photos.
Sam adele(non-registered)
Lovely dogs! I like the close ups then the full images!
What happy, beautiful pups! Their eyes just light up!
That little blue spot on Nic’s eye is special. Hope he and his brother find a good home together soon. Nice images.
Enjoyed reading. What an interesting blue speck that pup has.
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