Tips for Taking Great Photos of Your Dog
Photography, the art of forever capturing a moment in time to be admired and relived repeatedly.
Nearly everyone has a camera of some sort these days, and even the most novice photographer enjoys taking pictures to remember special moments. The picture taking possibilities are endless and thanks to our modern techie world, enhancements are a breeze you can create anything you choose.
How in today’s world can a person take great photography of their dog? That furry ball of joy that can’t wait to see you at the end of each day, jumping excitedly when you come home.
For most of us the idea of taking pictures of our dog seems delightful. The thought of capturing all those adorable moments on camera to share with friends, family and the world at large is exciting. After all who can ever get enough dog pictures right?
While taking photography of your dog might not seem all that complicated, anyone who has tried it will agree that it isn’t as easy as it would seem, unless of course your dog is snoozing!
So, where might someone begin when taking on this type of creative project? Lets take a look below.
Setting the Stage
Type of Photography Session
Prior to beginning your photography session, you will want to determine what type of photos you want to take. If you want to capture your dog in all his or her spontaneous enthusiasm for life, then that will take a certain type of atmosphere, which will need planning.
If you are looking to capture a portrait sitting, you will need to give your dog a good amount of exercise prior to the session to exhaust them a bit so they behave better. However, if it is lively excitement you wish to photograph than bringing the camera while you take your dog for that run, walk or swim will provide the opportunity for you to catch all the glorious happiness in motion.
Selecting the Location
Possibilities for the location where you will have your photography session is endless. If you have decided to do a portrait style session, you could set this up in the comfort of your own home and then use a variety of props to add color, contrast and interest to each photo. This type of session is great because your dog will feel more at ease in their own home.
Should you be looking to take photographs that bring to life the lively and sporty nature of your dog, you have a large variety of options such as the dog park, mountain trail, dog friendly beach or even your own backyard.
A good idea when selecting your locale is to consider the behavior, personality, appearance and style of your dog. If they love water, then what better place to take pictures of them than in a kiddie pool, big pool or at the beach! Does you dog enjoy wearing mini tiaras and tiny outfits, dress them up, they will shine all the brighter!
In all settings, have fun, be creative and think outside the box.
Equipment and Usage
While having an expensive camera with all the attachments is a plus for any type of photography you choose to do, it isn’t necessary in order to produce amazing photography of your dog.
Before You Begin
Practice Makes Perfect
As with any type of task a dog does, they perform better when they can practice. Remember all those sessions of trying to get your dog to sit for a treat, lay down and the most fun, stay? None of us, including our furry friends learned to do anything without practice, lots of practice.
If you have decided to do a portrait session, practicing sitting for longer than normal periods of time are a good idea. Whatever position you desire them in, clothing props you will use, you will want to make sure that they are used during your practice session or sessions.
If the photography you are going to take is more active adventure, this requires less practice and may be a better idea for a dog that has trouble sitting or holding still. It is better to acknowledge the dog’s capabilities before you begin and work with them instead of against.
Remembering to be realistic with your expectations about a photography session of your furry best friend is the best idea you could follow. Expecting your dog to sit for long times during a portrait session would be unrealistic for your high energy Weimaraner but all together acceptable for your refined Toy Poodle.
Selecting the Props and Scenery
The type of photography session you want will help determine which props you will use for the pictures. Props are necessary in almost every photo that is taken of a person or pet. They create unique and inspiring photographs. If selected properly and tied into the overall theme you have chosen, they have the potential to invoke emotions in those who view them. Think of the cute little chihuahua who absolutely loves to be outside, she watches the rain fall, sitting quietly by the window, staring intently with just a touch of sadness thinking, "I wish I could go outside."
The props we select can be tied into the scene we are creating and the personality of your dog. By using fabric, toys, leaves, hats, clothing, boxes, flowers, chairs, paint brushes and an easel, or anything else you imagine, you can create a work of art with the focal point being your beautiful dog.
Keeping your props to a minimum is sometimes best, there can be a creative fine line between too little and too much with regards to the stage. One of the most important tidbits to remember is to not put your dog in an uncomfortable situation for the photography. If they can’t stand playing dress up, avoid doing that. If they don’t like to play with Tennis Balls, keep those out of the session.
Scenery can be simple, if indoors, that comfortable recliner, the steps to the second floor or sitting at the dining room table. Outdoors, an open, grassy field, the front porch, sitting in the car or at the dog park. Whatever scenario you choose the photography is bound to be amazing because it is of your outstandingly handsome dog. Remember you are not seeking perfection, actually sometimes the less perfect photo the more perfect the moment can be.
Exercise Your Best Friend
Prior to beginning any photography session of your dog, you will want to exercise them. Take them for a walk through your neighborhood, a jog through town or maybe a long hike through the woods behind your house. Whatever you do, the key is to exercise your furry friend for a decent amount of time that won’t tire them out but get the sometimes out of control behaviors under control so your session can go smoother.
We all need exercise to clear the mind and stimulate the body, our furry friend included. For a session where they will be laying or sitting a bit more exercise might be required. If exercise is on the agenda for your photography session perhaps a mini fitness session will serve to keep them from wandering off to chase a squirrel or check out a tree.
Set the Stage Casually
Before the creative work begins you should allow your dog to check out the equipment you will be using, perhaps you could get down on their level and allow them to check out the cameras and any special equipment you may be using such as lighting, props and so forth. Let them sniff and study the objects while you take some casual pictures of this staging session. This will allow you to also uncover how your best friend will react to the equipment. Sometimes you may find your dog will be nervous or jumpy, this can offer you the opportunity to repeat this process as many times as it takes to get you dog comfortable with what you are doing. Occasionally your dogs’ temperament may change how you do the photography session.
Who knows, you might take some great practice photos that may end up in your photography album or on the holiday cards you send family and friends! When everyone is relaxed, the most extraordinary things tend to happen, have fun practicing.
When your photography session does finally begin there are a few things to keep in mind and do to make this adventurous task exciting in a casual way, so your dog doesn’t pickup on any negative emotions that might come up, like frustration.
Treats, Treats and More Treats
Dog treats, a dog training tool without compare. What dog won’t behave or stop what they are doing for a favorite treat?
When taking photos of your furry best friend having those wonderful treats at the ready can make the photo session more enjoyable for everyone. While they are thinking about their stomach, they aren’t thinking of ripping that new toy you just gave them to play with or making that blanket you have them sitting on into a nest.
While we all know that too many treats for anyone isn’t a good idea, a few extra treats in one day isn’t going to cause your dog to explode, so treat them to a few extra nibbles for all the hard work they are doing! All that posing, running, jumping or sitting still takes work, lots of it.
Many Helping Hands
When undertaking a photography session of your dog it is a good idea on the day of your session to have a helping hand. A person that your dog loves and is familiar with, if not a family member than a trusted friend who can give treats, adjust props, state commands and just all around distract your dog.
This can work two ways; this person can help your dog get through the session but also, they can assist you in making the photography session go a little bit smoother and quicker. This can leave you more free time to spend with your dog after the session reconnecting and praising for all that hard work they had to do for you.
Have fun with the session, set up the stage for what you would like to accomplish and then let it go. Let your dog be a dog and just do what dogs do, dig, rip, nip, sneeze, jump, bark and just be playful all the way around.
These moments of spontaneous excitement can not only make you laugh but make outstanding memories with your best friend. They offer moments of potentiality where something completely amazing happens and you manage to capture it on camera to always enjoy, you, your family and friends.
The Senses Have It
Use whatever you have at your disposal when trying to take amazing photographs of your dog. It doesn’t matter what gets the job done so long as the stress and negativity are kept to a minimum. Your dog may not fully understand what is going on, they will however enjoy every bit of extra attention you and their family and friends can bring into the photography.
Share those treats whenever necessary, make silly noises, talk to your dog in that voice that conveys praise and love. Keep the environment interesting and light hearted with a variety of toys that entertain and delight your dog. The more you are at ease and have fun the more they will enjoy this moment. What the lens of a camera picks up is the essence of the overall thoughts and feelings of the person or animal. If you want great pictures you need to start with a great environment that promotes the right feeling in your dog. Playfulness, toys, treats, singing, dancing around and excitement will be captured in your photos. For portrait or sitting still photography of your dog, lots of treats, soothing tones of kind words that show praise and love will work wonders on any reluctant dog.
Patience is Everything
Through the steps above you should have already know the temperament of your dog and how they will react to the situation you are creating.
If you enter your photo session with your dog fully armed with the tools to succeed and relax and enjoy the moment, irrelevant of the outcome you will find that everyone including yourself will have an amazing time.
If you find you or your dog struggling with the photography, put the camera down and take a break. Throw the ball for your dog if your outside, run around and play with them, have something to eat or drink both you and your dog. Share a cuddle with them. Possibly just take a moment to soak up the situation and re-access your dog, the photography session and yourself. Sometimes a session may not work out, keeping that in mind and postponing it if necessary, can give you time to take a break and figure out another way to take some photos of your beautiful dog.
Equipment and the Finishing Touches
Extravagant photography equipment is not a necessity to take great photographs of your dog. Natural lighting within your home or outside can bring out the best in your dogs’ appearance and the result of the photographs. It is important to note the location of the light source with relation to your subject, try different positions and see what looks best. Is the light shining through a window to one side of your dog? Trying position your fur baby so she is sitting in front of the window. Sometimes adding prop to help reflect or defuse light will also add some new effect.
Choosing the right room with regards to color of the walls and brightness of the room, and the right time of day can help make your photos more stunning.
The Speed Matters
Shutter speed, a feature on most cameras controls what amount of time the shutter stays open allowing more light to the sensor. Depending on your equipment it may be something you can adjust, possibly not. You certainly don’t need to go out and purchase new equipment, but it can be a nice feature to have access to if you do have it.
Dogs enjoy moving, this can make it hard to capture the best shots of your dog in action. For outdoor photography where your dog will be moving around a lot having a camera set with a faster shutter speed can be helpful, this however means that there will be less light that ends up being captured by the camera. You will need to figure out how to balance using shutter speed out depending on the lighting that you have. If you are taking your photographs outside this will make for some amazingly beautiful pictures but if they are primarily inside pictures you may be looking at so-so photographs due to the lower light.
This is a more advanced photography tool that can be used by those who have access to it but isn’t a necessity in taking great photos of your dog. It can definitely enhance your picture taking abilities, taking them to the next level.
On the Level, Taking a Different Perspective
When taking photographs it is best to move around, sometimes looking away from the camera and looking around at what or who you are photographing to get a better. Moving yourself by changing positions and levels allows you to change the view your camera receives.
Having your dog as the subject puts them on a different level than you, lower to the floor. Even on a chair or other furniture they may still be at a different level. Changing how you photograph them, getting down on their level changes the way you view the image. By changing positions, it gives you the capability to capture many different perspectives of the same environment.
It also works two-fold by putting yourself down on your dogs’ level you are inviting and friendly. You may find that being on their level brings out a different side to your dogs’ personality. Recall all those moments when you lay or sit on the floor with your dog and their personality changes because now you are in their zone.
Changing the perspective also relates to how you photograph your dog, depending on how creative and unique you want your photos to be will determine how far you take this. You can change your positioning to get really close to the dog, zeroing in on a body part, like their nose, or half their face. Turning sideways to capture that lopsided grin from another angle, photographing from behind or under your dog, the possibilities are endless. Your dog will probably love all the extra attention and this fun game you have set up with him or her as the star!
Before you begin to edit the photos you have taken, study them closely, take a hard look at the beauty you and your dog have created together. All those special moments captured by your camera, the elegance, strength or sass of your dog that is captured forever.
Sometimes because we have the technology to create perfection, we strive for it, almost with expectation. If for a moment, we can take a step back and view the image without that in mind we can truly see the stunning uniqueness of each photograph we have taken.
If after you have done this to your photographs you believe some or all still need editing, then do so.
You may find that your photos need to be edited before they are completely done. The use of software to accomplish this can be an exciting way to delve deeper into photography and there are numerous apps and software to choose from that can provide you with what you are looking for.
If you use Lightroom or a similar program, there are many preset packs, both free and paid, on the market that can make you job a lot easier and faster. When you use a preset you can still edit to make any finer adjustments.
Depending on the season or indoor location you choose, it may be necessary to play with the exposure or brightness of the photos. You are striving for a natural feel and look to the photos, you can level out any differences you may find in the any photo between light and dark. This can give the feeling to the viewer that they are there with your dog.
If you are looking at a dull picture you can increase the saturation to provide that much desired natural look. This won’t be a problem with dogs who are primarily black or white.
The sharpness of your photos may need to be changed to create a clearer image of your dog. It is possible to take the sharpening effect a bit over the edge creating graininess. This is something you can mess around with to get the effect you desire, with careful judgement you can create an even more amazing photograph than you started with.
Deciding to photograph your dog can be exciting and exhausting. All the planning and tips may appear to take away from the enjoyment of just taking pictures of your dog.
In the end there isn’t a right way or a wrong way to take pictures of your beloved furry best friend. So long as you both enjoy the moment and that is conveyed in your pictures than you have succeed in accomplishing what you set out to do.
While you sit on your couch with your dog by your side going through the photos together, they won’t complain about how their hair was a bit ruffled, or how you caught their bad side. Their love for you and the time you invest in showing them how much you love them will be the only thing that really matters.
In the end, when family and friends finally get a look at your photos, their appreciation for how you captured the essence of your furry best friends’ persona will be validation enough. These are the reasons you took the photos to begin with, to share pictures of that wonderful furry ball of life you call your best friend, your dog.
You have succeeded in capturing the beauty, strength, sass and playfulness of your furry best friend, what more could a person or dog ask for! Please let us know if you have any extra tips to share in the comments below.