• Photo: Drew Glaser

    Photo: Drew Glaser

It may sound like an easy job — go through photos of adorable pooches and cuddly kittens to determine which ones are the best. But narrowing down the amazing submissions in our Your Pets in Focus Photo Contest to the top five was extremely difficult.

Making their way through the furry and fun images were photographers Liz Bradley and Sarah O'Neill, as well as Canadian Geographic's graphic designer Jenny Chew. Here, the judges outline why they made their winning selections.

Pets with Personality

Winner of Pets with Personality category. (Photo: Connie Sanders)

Liz Bradley: I love the expression and attention the dog is giving the camera in this one, and it is lit quite well. I love that the background clearly shows a home environment, but its clutter doesn't interfere with the image because the depth of field in the image really brings the focus to the subject, which adds to the story of the image.

Sarah O'Neill: You can't help but smile when you see this dog's expression. With just a slice of the table in the composition, you can feel the curiosity and hunger of the eyes. Nice exposure and use of depth of field draws the viewer in for the dinner time begging.

Jenny Chew: The depth of field really makes the dog pop from the background. The eye contact and paws up easily tell a story, which gives a sense of personality and emotion.

Pets and People

Winner of Pets and People category. (Photo: Patricia Hart Grondin)

Liz Bradley: I am a sucker for a beautiful sunset silhouette. It is really tricky to get a perfect one with a dog because the dog has to be facing the correct way in order for the viewer to recognize the features that make it a dog. This photo does it very well. The colours are beautiful and the pose of the person in relation to the dog is also done well.

Sarah O'Neill: Great example of a silhouette that captures the human/pet bond. The shape of our subjects create an outline of the environment and the activity they were sharing. Meanwhile, the sky is providing a beautiful background. You can feel the companionship in this image, which is why it was such a strong choice.

Jenny Chew: This is a peaceful shot with the clouds giving a sense of motion. The photo fits “man's best friend” perfectly.

Pet Buddies

Winner of the Pet Buddies category. (Photo: Fallyn Oxley)

Liz Bradley: This image is all about the photographer being patient and waiting for this moment to happen. It's perfectly timed and creates a sense of kinship between the two animals. It is also lit very well and the depth of field really brings the focus right to the two subjects.

Sarah O'Neill: Gentle noses touching. A special moment between these two different species. Their eyes are locking ... as are yours!

Jenny Chew: This photo was taken at the perfect time. I love how the dog's nose is pushed up a bit and the way they’re looking at each other.

Pets in Motion

Winner of Pets in Motion category. (Photo: Drew Glaser)

Liz Bradley: This is such a unique and engaging photo and was a favourite of all of the judges. The juxtaposition of the person and the dog is perfect, as are the rays of light coming in from the sun through the water. I love how it's a headless shot of both the dog and the person, and the colours are great.

Sarah O'Neill: This is a stunner. Great colour, exposure and composition. You get the feeling that you are actually under the water with the dog.

Jenny Chew: Unique perspective. Probably the only time where a photo missing the head actually works.

Pet Portraits

Winner of the Pet Portraits category. (Photo: Andreas Rutkauskas)

Liz Bradley: The light in this portrait is beautiful. It is sometimes difficult to photograph black animals, but this was done perfectly. By juxtaposing the cat on the white chair, it doesn't get lost in the background of the image. Well done.

Sarah O'Neill: Great natural light for this shot with strong shadows. With help from a chic white Herman Miller chair, your eye focuses on the beautiful black cat. Often difficult to photograph black fur, this entry does it perfectly and shows the shine from the window light and what many cats do best - lounging.

Jenny Chew: The eyes really stand out, making this a good portrait. I love the contrast between the white chair and the black cat.

To see the photos selected as runners-up and honourable mentions, visit the Your Pets in Focus Photo Contest website.