There’s nothing quite like a good pet photo. Here’s how twelve pro photographers capture the personality and charm of the funniest animals in our lives.

In a digital world, funny animal photos are a fact of life. Maybe you see them while scrolling through Facebook, or perhaps they pop up every time check Instagram. While these kinds of images are often cast simply as silly, wholesome entertainment, the truth is they can be pretty powerful. According to ​research​, photographs of cute animals can actually make us happier and more positive. If there’s an element of surprise in the image—for example, a dog makes an unexpected facial expression—that’s even better.

Shutterstock is filled to the brim with high-quality, dynamic, and unexpected photographs of pets—images that elicit emotions and encourage us to think outside the box. Their diverse collection offers a treasure trove of inspiration for individuals and brands alike, and over the past 15 years, their contributors have shown us time and again that Shutterstock is so much more than stock.

Funny pet photos affect our moods and emotions, and since we consume so many images in this day and age, perhaps they’re more important than ever. Yes, political posts serve a purpose, but so does that adorable cat photo your grandma shares on Facebook. Instead of scrolling past it, consider taking a closer look. It could make you feel better about your day. We interviewed twelve photographers from around the world to see how they create hilarious images of pets. We dare you not to smile at their stories.

1. “Variables such as body language, energy level, age, background, and breed all need to be factored into your plan.”

Annmarie Young

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Work with the Animal's Needs

Image by Annmarie Young. Gear: Nikon D810 camera, 85mm 1.8 lens. Settings: Exposure 1/100 sec; f5.0; ISO 200.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

I love all of the dogs I photograph, but this dog is named Flip Flop, and each year, her mom arranges a special birthday shoot, so it’s become a tradition that I really look forward to.

Flip Flop truly enjoys photos and even seems to switch up her facial expressions based on the look we are going for. I joke that she’s the Kate Moss of dog models. This photo always makes me laugh because of her little awkward toothy smile and her ambivalent expression. Don’t we all feel like that on our birthdays sometimes?

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Build Rapport

Image by Annmarie Young

Pro Tip

To me, photographing an animal is no different than photographing a person. Just like you have to build a rapport with a human subject, it’s important to spend a few minutes with an animal before your session to get to know their personality.

Variables such as body language, energy level, age, background, and breed all need to be factored into your plan. For example, if I get a very shy or uncertain dog in the studio, it’s important to keep the noise down, speak quietly, and not move too quickly. This is especially important for shelter dogs and rescue dogs.

No photo is worth scaring an animal. Keeping the session short, if necessary, and knowing when an animal has had enough are very important to me.

On the other hand, if a dog is super happy and friendly, lots of praise and energy during a shoot can really bring out a dog’s true personality. A prop can be a really funny element in a pet photo, but it’s easy to go overboard. My rule for using props is that you want to see the dog first, the prop second. It should enhance the photo, not overpower it.

Getting an animal to look into the camera is the goal for most shots. You want the ears up and eyes forward. I keep a box with many different squeaky toys and noisemakers to accomplish this, and I’m not above barking or making animal noises myself. You can also have animal noises ready on your phone. Animals are smart, though, and they may catch on to your game pretty quickly, so be ready to switch up noises quickly.

Sometimes I will squeak a toy and then immediately move it towards the lens. A lot of the time, an animal will follow the motion and look straight into the lens. Treats are also a great way to encourage an animal and “pay” them after each shot. Treats can really make a shoot fun for an animal.

Instagram ​| Website​

2. “The most important tip for capturing funny photos of dogs and their emotions is not to push their limits.”

Nadezhda V. Kulagina

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Respect Your Models

Image by Nadezhda V. Kulagina. Gear: Nikon D800 camera, Nikkor 16-35mm lens. Settings: Focal length 22mm; exposure 1/320 sec; f11.0; ISO 100.

What’s the story behind this photo?

One day, I asked a friend of mine to bring her dogs over to my studio. The idea was to photograph two of them together catching treats. It was really cute to see how, at first, both of the dogs were motionless and didn’t know what to do when I was throwing hotdog slices over to them. Several slices later, the older one decided to go for it, but the only parts of her that were actually moving were her eyes—locked on that flying slice. After a while, they both started actively catching the treats. That whole photo shoot was a lot of fun—the dogs really enjoyed the hotdogs, and we had a great laugh!

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Have Fun with It

Image by Nadezhda V. Kulagina

Pro Tip

The most important tip for capturing funny photos of dogs and their emotions is not to push their limits. Let them be themselves. With food lovers, you can easily use treats, although you have to be careful in choosing the right ones—some dogs will be happy to work for a piece of carrot, while others will set a higher price and will only accept expensive smoked venison sausage with cheese. Other tricks include squeaky toys, flying objects, unusual sounds—anything to grab the model’s attention. But whatever trick you use, remember that every model is unique and requires a different approach.

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter ​​| Website

3. “Most dogs are bound to make a funny facial expression if you toss them a treat.”

SikorskiFotografie

 The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now— Let Your Model Express Themselves

Image by SikorskiFotografie. Gear: Canon EOS 7D camera, Walimex Pro 14mm 2.8 lens. Settings: Exposure 1/160 sec; f14; ISO 640.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

In this picture, we have a Labrador named Mila. By nature, Labradors are very interested in food, so it was no problem to work with treats in the studio and get some great faces from her. She had a lot of fun catching them!

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Try a Toss

Image by SikorskiFotografie

Pro Tip

​Most dogs are bound to make a funny facial expression if you toss them a treat. The camera and the flash will freeze these priceless moments that are too fast for the human eye to register. It just takes a bit of patience and repetition to capture the perfect moment. I use a wide-angle lens for these photos.

Instagram | Website

4. “The basic rules for photographing pets are to show them love and patience.”

malamooshi

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Love and Patience

Image by malamooshi. Gear: Nikon D700 camera, Nikkor FX 50mm 1.4f D lens. Settings: Focal length 50mm; exposure 1/160 sec; f5.6; ISO 200.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

My malamute Zidane and I took part in a 365-day challenge one year on Instagram, so I had to post a fresh, interesting photo every day, and I did them all with Zi. I captured this one on day 102.

Zidane loves bread, so holding a French baguette on his head was a real challenge for him. He was drooling a lot, and, for some time, he could not understand why he would ever want to keep bread on his head rather than in his mouth.

I had to teach him that if he sat for a little bit with the baguette on his head, he would get something even better—a treat!—from my hands. It worked, as always, and when we were done, he got to eat some of the bread as a reward for his patience.

Pictured: [1] malamooshi [2] malamooshi [3] malamooshi

Pro Tip

​In my eleven years of practice, every dog I’ve photographed has been different from the last. There are natural models, and there are also those who see a camera and ran away in horror. These animals need time to get used to the photographer, the camera, and their new surroundings. That’s why I always give them time to study the location, whether it’s a street, a room, or a studio. I also give them time to get to know me and sniff the camera.

Sometimes, if a dog is concerned about the camera, I flick the shutter and give him or her something tasty to eat at that exact moment. That way, the animal gets used to the sound and starts associating it with something good. The same method works with dogs who are scared of flashes. Take it step-by-step and allow timid dogs to warm up to you and enjoy the process.

Before any shoot, I always ask the owner to bring something their dog really loves: a toy, food, her favorite half-eaten slippers, etc. These items help when taking photos of the dogs practicing their tricks or commands.

Also, one of the basic rules of pet photography—and pet ownership, for that matter— is to let the dog be a dog. Giving them the freedom to express themselves will result in the funniest photos. The basic rules for photographing pets are to show them love and patience. Observe them, communicate with them, and learn their behavior.

Instagram | Facebook

5. “It’s much easier to “negotiate” with adult dogs, they understand commands and are willing to work for treats.”

Mila Atkovska

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Use Willing Models

Image by Mila Atkovska. Gear: Canon EOS 400D camera, Sigma 17-70 f2.8 lens. Settings: Focal length 36mm; exposure 1/100 sec; f8; ISO 100.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

This was part of the routine shoots I used to do with my dog Nera, back in her modeling days (a decade ago). She is now almost sixteen and enjoying her retirement. Like most mixed breeds in my country, she was dumped in front of someone’s doorstep as a puppy. We took her in, and she was my first dog (I now have two more, also former strays).

Nera turned out to be an extremely fast learner and acted more like a human than an animal, so taking photos of her in human clothing and jewelry came naturally. Whenever I bought some new accessories for myself, she would be the first one to wear them for a photo shoot. Most of my pics of her were taken just for fun in my home studio, and the funniest thing about them is that they end up as magazine or book covers—or, even funnier, on dog show flyers for purebreds.

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Work with Trained Adults

Image by Mila Atkovska

Pro Tip

First of all, you have to be prepared for chaos. You need to be absolutely okay with being peed on, being barked at, having your equipment chewed on, and cleaning up dog drool and hair. That being said, almost every photo shoot is going to be one of your fondest memories, and you will remember these dogs forever.

I usually bake some homemade dog biscuits—my special sardine-based recipe that gets their attention every time—and I also use squeaky toys that will look good in the photos. It’s much easier to “negotiate” with adult dogs, they understand commands and are willing to work for treats.

Puppies, on the other hand, will run around and try to climb on you until they get too tired and pass out. Somewhere between the running and the passing out, you’ll have a five-minute window to get a funny photo of a puppy with an object. Right after that comes the one-hour nap, or what I like to call the “melted cheese” phase, during which your models will look like melted cheese no matter what you do.

Also, the fewer people at the shoot, the better. Dogs are easily confused and distracted, especially if a lot of different people are making noise and giving them different directions at the same time.

As far as cats go, just let them play with whatever they like, and take the photos as stealthily as you can. Your best chance to take a good photo of a cat is if they forget you are there.

InstagramFacebook | Website​​

6. “Bags of treats are essential. They’ll cause the dogs to lick their faces, which produces lots of great results.”

Foonia

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Keep it Cozy

Image by Foonia. Gear: Canon 5D Mark IV camera, Canon EF 24-105 1:4 L lens. Settings: Focal length 67mm; exposure 1/160 sec; f11; ISO 100.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

I came up with the idea to photograph neighborhood dogs, and I posted an ad on a local Facebook page offering a free pet photo shoot. Hundreds of West London dog owners replied that day.

I would let my models explore the studio freely for a while and then ask their owners to stand back while I tried to get a cute expression. In the case of Jehst, featured on this photograph, all I had to do is wait. Jehst is about 14 years old and happiest when idle. At the same time, he loves being snug and dressing up.

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Be Generous with Treats

Image by Foonia

Pro Tip

Bags of treats are essential. They’ll cause the dogs to lick their faces, which produces lots of great results. Some of the best faces, I’ve found, are also the result of me coming up with surprising noises. During these shoots, I’ve found myself quacking and meowing whilst laying flat on the floor with my camera.

Instagram | Facebook

7. “Unlike dogs, cats cannot be bribed with treats.”

Dora Zett (Judith Dzierzawa)

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Treats and Toys

Image by Dora Zett (Judith Dzierzawa). Gear: Nikon D800 camera, Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 ED VR II lens. Settings: Focal length 135mm; exposure 1/250 sec; f8.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

For more than twenty years, I have been passionately photographing domestic animals. In this case, I was working with my best friend’s daughter’s young Maine Coon mix. Dobby the tomcat is just beautiful. He came to the studio along with his snow-white brother Crunchy. They were both approximately half a year old, and they both felt comfortable in the studio and weren’t afraid of anything.

Pictured: [1] Dora Zett (Judith Dzierzawa) [2] Dora Zett (Judith Dzierzawa)

Pro Tip

Unlike dogs, cats cannot be bribed with treats. Additionally, noises that might be helpful when working with dogs often tend to frighten cats. Cat toys with feathers or crackling ribbons can help, but keep in mind that you’ll need assistance from another person. In Dobby’s case, he was very interested in this violet toilet paper.

Instagram | Website | Facebook

8. “If you keep the energy around the animals positive and light, they feel free to let their whimsical personalities shine.”

Susan Schmitz

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Shoot Your Concepts

Image by Susan Schmitz. Gear: Canon 5D Mark III camera, Canon 25-105 f4/L lens. Settings: Focal length 55mm; exposure 1/250 sec; f8; ISO 100.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

I run a rescue group photo program which provides complimentary images of homeless pets for adoption ads and social media postings. During these photo sessions, shelter staff and volunteers have fun playing with the animals while I try to capture their unique personalities on camera. The pets in this photo are from ​Lost Our Home Pet Rescue​ in Tempe, AZ.

When I go through images after a shoot, I pluck out the ones that make me bust out laughing. I then look through my image archives for others that may work well with it to tell a funny story.

The kitten and puppy in this image were photographed separately on different days and brought together in Photoshop using lots of layers, masks, and special effect brushes (I explain this process in great detail in my ​online course​). The result tells a story of the kitten holding the puppy’s nose, perhaps because there is a bad smell in the air. It has been used by pet companies to advertise products such as digestive aids and odor eliminators.

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Don't Fear Photoshop

Image by Susan Schmitz

Pro Tip

If you keep the energy around the animals positive and light, they feel free to let their whimsical personalities shine. I personally will no longer photograph pets with their owners in the room because they tend to get upset if they feel that Fido is misbehaving. Their negative energy is picked up by the animal, and it shows up in the images. If everyone involved in the shoot is having fun, including the animals, you are bound to get some great images.

Website | Instagram | Instagram

9. “Chihuahuas seem to be the best at giving me multiple expressions, emotions, and looks throughout the session—I have no idea why!”

Tom Harper Photography

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Seek Strong Personalities

Image by Tom Harper PhotographyGear: Canon EOS 6D camera, Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD SP lens. Settings: Focal length 49mm; exposure 1/160 sec; f7.1; ISO 100.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

This is Frank the Chihuahua. He came to visit me at one of my first “Pop-up Studio” events in South Wales and brought along his two sisters, Autumn and Delilah. He sat there and worked it like a pro, giving me everything from “Rockstar” to “Mugshot,” “Smug” to “Aloof,” and even “Abercrombie.”

He was actually fairly easy to work with and didn’t mind looking straight down the lens towards me. Dogs sometimes freak out when there’s a giant reflective eye staring at them, but Frank just didn’t care—he knew he was in charge!

That’s what made this shot a favorite. The side-eye smugness and power just pour out of him. I’ve photographed many Chihuahuas since then, and they all have something special to give, but none have quite come close to matching Frank’s confidence!

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Make Funny Noises

Image by Tom Harper Photography

Pro Tip

It’s important to remember that all pups, like people, have different personalities. I’ve learned two things by capturing funny photos of pups (I refer to all “dogs” as “pups,” regardless of age). Firstly, puppies and younger pups will almost always give you head tilts and funny looks when you make a silly noise. Secondly, Chihuahuas seem to be the best at giving me multiple expressions, emotions, and looks throughout the session—I have no idea why!

I use my voice to make high pitched squeals, I bark and howl, and I do that weird “bbrrrrrr” noise by blowing out air to vibrate my lips. Combine these with a duck call whistle, a crow whistle, and squeakers from toys, and you’ve got yourself a good bag of tricks to pick from. It’s always handy to have some super tasty treats like cocktail sausages with you, along with a jar of peanut butter so that you can boop it on their nose for some licky good times.

I always greet the dogs and spend some time allowing them to get used to me, and I make a point to set my camera down near them and allow them to sniff around it. Their happiness, comfort, and fun are always my top priority.

Twitter | Website ​​| Instagram​​

10. “In the photo with the flower and also with this picture below, I used a tasty paste that is safe for cats to eat.”

Seregraff

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Treats Work for Cats, Too

Image by Seregraff. Gear: Canon 5D IV camera, Canon 100mm L 2.8 fixed lens. Settings: Exposure 1/160 sec; f18; ISO 100.

What’s the story behind this photo?

This photo is based on a true story. Years ago, I had a legendary cat named after Jackson Pollock, and once, when I was in my basement art studio, he came in through my window unexpectedly. Because I was focused on painting, I only saw him out of the corner of my eye, barely noticing there was something in his mouth.

He stood two feet in front of me, dropped what was in his mouth, and meowed loudly, demanding my attention. When I finally looked at him, I saw that he had brought me a fallen flower from a tree. It did not stop there. For the next two and a half years, he brought me well over 100 flowers. This photo is dedicated to the memory of Jackson Pollock.

Pro Tip

In the photo with the flower and also with this picture below, I used a tasty paste that is safe for cats to eat. In one case, I smeared it on the flower stem, and in the other, I smeared it on a pane of glass and photographed from the other side. Not all cats will be content to lick like this one, but when it happens, it’s sure to inspire some laughter on set:

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Think Creatively

Image by Seregraff

With these photos, I also did a lot of work in Photoshop to create something original and fun.

Instagram | Website

11. “Some energetic and active dogs have to be tired out a bit by playing before they start working.”

alexei_tm

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Get Some Energy Out

Image by alexei_tm. Gear: Nikon D750 camera, Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 lens. Settings: Exposure 1/1600 sec; f5.6; ISO 800.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

Our dog could play with a ball all day long, so he was more than happy to jump in on our mini football game. Shooting action like this is almost impossible without an assistant, so I asked my five-year-old son to kick the ball.

At the end of the day, it was a really fun game, and we got a lot of amusing photos. Unfortunately, the ball was destroyed in ten minutes, but that happens frequently with props and dogs, so we had a replacement ready to go. These days, I often buy two similar toys when I’m at the store: one to play with and another to use for photos when the dog is ready.

Pictured: [1] alexei_tm [2] alexei_tm

Pro Tip

It’s easy to take a funny pet photo if the dog or cat is comfortable; however, it is almost impossible if he or she is afraid. I can promise you that any tension or fear will be visible in a photo.

I have three rules for working with dogs. The first is to prepare the set, props, and lighting before your model arrives because waiting makes many dogs nervous. Secondly, I try to play with the dog as long as I need to help them feel safe and relaxed. Some energetic and active dogs have to be tired out a bit by playing before they start working.

And the third rule is to do what your pet likes! For my dog personally, an interesting and fun game works better than treats, but for other dogs, it could easily be vice versa.

Instagram

12. “Pugs are usually super lazy, so in order to work with them, I either have to give them some food or wait for them to go to sleep.”

simona pilolla 2

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Know Breed Types

Image by simona pilolla 2. Gear: FUJIFILM X-T1 camera. Settings: Exposure 1/320 sec; f1.4; ISO 400.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

I have two funny pugs, and this one is named Banana. I just waited until she was tired, and then I picked her up and placed her this colored blanket. She was tired, as always. It took just two minutes for her to find the perfect, most comfortable position, and that’s when I took the photo.

The Most Hilarious Images of Pets on the Internet Right Now — Work with Their Personalities

Image by simona pilolla 2

Pro Tip

Pugs are usually super lazy, so in order to work with them, I either have to give them some food or wait for them to go to sleep. Usually, thirty seconds is sufficient.

Top Image by simona pilolla 2