I know that clients love receiving pictures of their dogs, and I know that I love taking them. I also know that I am no dog photography expert. So, for this blog, I called in the big guns, award-winning, nationally recognized, expert dog photographers for their help!
I am so grateful to everyone I asked, not only for providing us with some fantastic tips, but also for the willingness to share their time, knowledge, and expertise. I personally learned a lot reading through their tips and I sincerely hope you do as well.
One sentiment that was echoed across the board, and that I really appreciate, was how committed they all are to making their photography sessions a positive experience for your dog. It’s all about letting your dog have fun, and showing their true personality.
The tips provided can be utilized inside and out and I have categorized their answers to help you digest the material.
Once you’re done reading, don’t hesitate to head into the world with your dog and try out some of their tips! Tag any of them on Instagram, and let me know how your new photography adventures go!
1. Get Low
Pictures will be more successful if you get into your pet’s world for their photo, rather than take a shot of them living in yours. This means you either want to get eye level with your pet (so, think, lay on your stomach on the floor, so you’re eye to eye.) or you can put them up on something like a chair, or the arm of the couch, etc. to help elevate them closer to where you are. The kind of intimacy that a proper, eye-level photo creates is far more soulful and impactful than an ordinary shot of you looking down on them. – Kaylee Greer, Dog Breath Photography, Boston MA
Get down on their level! People rarely see the world from a dog’s perspective. It makes the photo much more interesting and allows you to capture that real connection with your pet! - Courtney Blatch, Barking Mad Photography, Calgary, AB
The most compelling photos of your dog, large or small, can be achieved by getting down low, like, really low, to make that emotional eye-contact with your furry friend. A very small dog can be placed up higher on a rock or other object so you can be on the same level (with someone guarding so your pup doesn’t fall!) - Jacqui Jensen-Roy, Soul Puppy Pet Photography, Toronto ON
2. Don’t Forget to Zoom In
Capture the individual parts of your dog that you love. Search for interesting angles of your dog’s details. Zoom in to capture just his wet nose, curly tail, or expressive eyes. Check your camera to see if there is a macro/micro setting that will allow your camera to focus when shooting this close to your dog. If your camera will not focus in as tight as you’d like, back up, get the shot, and crop the final image. – Shaina Fishman, Shaina Fishman Photography, New York, NY
3. Think About What’s In Your Shot
Always be aware of the whole picture. What’s in there that distracts from your subject? Most often images can be improved simply by getting closer (or zooming in). Context is often essential, but most often surrounding details only detract from your image. - Mark McQueen, Phodography, New York, NY
1. Get Out of the Sun
If you’re photographing your dog on a bright sunny day, find some shade instead of photographing him in the bright sun. Place your dog in the shade, just on the edge with his face pointing out towards the sun or sky. You want to try and get “catch lights” in his eyes to give them life but you want to avoid harsh shadows that you’ll get in the bright sunshine. Kim Hollis, Barkography, Charlotte NC
2. Experiment to find the right light
Photography isn’t about location, expensive equipment or perfect poses. It is really all about lighting. Beautiful photographs of your dog can be created anywhere, indoors or out. Because the most important element in either setting is finding the right light. When photographing your dog inside, open all blinds and curtains so natural light will filter into your home. This way, you can avoid using the flash on your camera. A flash creates a harsh light that won’t look as nice as natural light. If you must use the camera’s flash, affix a piece of wax paper over it to soften the hard shadows it creates. Overcast days are the best for photographing your pet outside. The light on these days is even, creating soft shadows. This light is particularly ideal for photographing dogs with very dark coats, which are typically difficult to photograph because dark fur doesn’t reflect the light well. Bright, sunny days create harsh shadows and will cast unflattering light on your pet. The exception to this is shooting early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is low and casts a beautiful warm light. If you are taking pictures on a sunny day, find a shaded area with no direct sunlight to position your dog for photographs. Shaina Fishman, Shaina Fishman Photography, New York, NY
Your Dog’s Experience
1. Make it Fun
It’s best to photograph your pets when they are in a calm and relaxed state, as the process of taking a photo should be a fun and positive one for them. The most common mistake that I see pet owners make when trying to grab a snap of their pet is that they immediately (and typically, unknowingly) make it a negative experience for them. Yelling your pet’s name over and over again to get them to look towards the camera or excessively squeaking a toy or getting stressed out yourself causes and urgency and anxiety that your pets can immediately feel and are affected by. Instead, try remaining calm with a soft voice, and if your pet has had enough, give them a break. Never force the situation or you will inadvertently cause a negative associated to be made by your pet with the camera. – Kaylee Greer, Dog Breath Photography, Boston MA
2. Get His Attention
My secret to getting a dog's attention and getting that adorable head tilt, is weird noises! When I'm taking photos at the park, people think I'm a crazy person. Whether I'm whining like a dog or making crazy cat noises, it works every time! I also have an elk call (like the kind that hunters use) and it makes such a strange noise! It never fails to make dogs and humans tilt their head! - Courtney Blatch, Barking Mad Photography, Calgary, AB
3. Respect Your Dog’s Space
One more tidbit of specific advice for photographing dogs: In canine body language, staring directly at one another is a signal of aggression, and is usually the last interaction that happens before a fight erupts between two dogs. Because of this, be aware that your camera (especially with a big, round lens on it) is reminiscent of a giant eye, and if you haphazardly point it too close to a dog’s face without proper introduction it can be very scary and overwhelming for that dog to interpret. When one’s face disappears behind the giant eye, it gets even scarier to the subject of the image. I get most of my best shots by ‘shooting blind’ or pointing the camera towards the dog while keeping my face unobscured by the camera, so I can still interact with and talk to the dog while I’m working with him. I get my best and most impactful images this way, as it allows the dog’s personality to connect with the viewer, since they are effectively, connecting with me in real-life. – Kaylee Greer, Dog Breath Photography, Boston MA
4. He might be Camera Shy
Begin by taking pictures with your camera at waist level and not looking in his direction. Once he stops turning away from the camera at this level, raise the camera, in increments, closer to your eye level.” - Shaina Fishman, Shaina Fishman Photography, New York, NY
Tag us in your new photography adventures! @leashandlearn @dogbreathphotography @barkography @barking_mad_photography @soulpuppyphoto @phodography @shainafishman
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