Betta Photography: Tips & Tricks From A Pro

One things for certain when it comes to betta fish: they photograph beautifully.

But whilst they are undoubtedly among the most photo-friendly of fish, it’s far easier said than done when it comes to capturing that perfect shot.

We’ve long been in awe of those pristine-looking shots you see of a stunning betta on an all white or all black background, and we wanted to know how such a photograph is achieved.

We therefore interviewed professional photographer Ashleigh Cadet to find out how she has mastered the art of stunning betta photos. Below you can see her answers, as well as tips and tricks for taking great betta photos with your phone.

All of the photos included in this post (including the header image) are Ashleigh’s. You can see more of her work on her website.

(Editor’s note: to ensure the page doesn’t take too long to load, we’ve scaled down the photos. To see them in their full glory, click a thumbnail in the gallery at the end.)

Hi Ashleigh, welcome to Bettaboxx! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your interest in bettas?

Thanks for your interest in my photos. It’s always a pleasure to share shots of these amazing fish.

Photography is my job – though I tend to specialise in food photography and product photography, betta fish are my addiction! I have been asked to produce an exhibition later this year in the UK and also will be selling a range of betta merchandise.

Betta are the ultimate fish in my opinion. They are intelligent, feisty, friendly, and totally dependant on us to take care of them correctly. I just adore them!

How do you take photos through the aquarium glass without getting any flash-back?

It’s all dependent on the angle of the lighting. If you’re going to use artificial light, it will take a little experimenting and playing with the light. Have patience. When you see these amazing shots of betta fish, 99.9% will have been put through some kind of editing process to make them look sharper, cleaner, brighter etc. So, keep trying and do not beat yourself up if you don’t produce a shot worthy of Apple sticking it on the new iPhone box! Those shots had a lot of help!

Professional betta photo by ashleigh cadet

How did you get such still clear images whilst the betta was moving?

A fast shutter speed. If you are using a phone then light. The lighter the object, the quicker and sharper your image will be.

When is the best moment to take a shot?

That’s entirely up to you. It’s nice to get a full on flaring shot, it’s also nice to get a more relaxed view. It’s all a personal preference.

Is there a best angle to take the shot from?

Not really, though try to keep the focus on the eye of the fish if you want a nice clean image of the face of the fish.

What kind of aquarium was the shot taken in? Was it a special aquarium?

A very clean, non-scratched , oblong, glass tank. Avoid a tank that is going to distort your fish!

How did you achieve a clean white background on the photos?

Ensuring that you tank of scratch free, water clean, and lighting in the best place, a white background is easily achievable.

Did you use a camera with special specs/special settings?

No. A mid range Nikon. On manual setting. It’s not really about the camera though, it’s about the preparation before hand.

Was there any extra lighting used for the photographs?

Yes. 3 flashes. That’s because I like flash. I also like just using the LED light that comes with most tanks. Different lights produce different colours, don’t forget this. So often betta are bought via a photo, so always keep in mind that the fish could be a totally different hue when it arrives.

Was there any extra equipment used for the photography?

3 flashes and a tripod. Again, these are my preference and not totally necessary. A tripod just enables a little more security when taking a shot and helps avoid blur.

Do you know how someone could achieve the best image on an iPhone / smartphone?

The most important thing when using an iPhone to take a shot is to keep the object well lit and organised.

Any other advice or tips you would like to mention?

I’m a big believer that anyone can take quality photos whether it’s using a top of the range camera through to an iPhone as long as…….and this is the important bit, you have a little understanding of how a camera works. And I’m not talking very technical stuff here, I’m talking about making sure you realise that a camera likes light. The lighter it is, the quicker the shot so capturing a fish darting around is much easier if you put the tank outside on a warm, sunny day, plenty of light. Let the fish get used to the surroundings and relax, you’ll get much better shots.

In short, play, experiment with light. You don’t need expensive gear, just time and imagination.

Thanks, Ashleigh!

If you’d like to see more of Ashleigh’s work or get in touch with her, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

To see Ashleigh’s photos full size, click one of the thumbnails below.

13big red 4big red 11469a8

Do you love betta fish as much as we do? Sign up for our monthly newsletter below – the ultimate email for betta fans!