I'm sure many of you have tried to photograph your dog only to be disappointed with the results. There are some simple tips and tricks you can employ to improve the quality of the images you take, whether you have a point-and-shoot camera or a digital SLR camera. Experiment with these and hopefully, you'll create many wonderful portraits of your canine companion and several memories as well.
Dog Photography Tips
- Schedule your dog photography sessions for a time when your dog is in the proper mood. If you want to capture your dog playing or sleeping, wait until they're doing just that. Trying to force them to do a behavior is much harder than capturing it candidly and it can stress your dog.
- Be patient. Allow your dog to become relaxed with you holding the camera. Wait for the proper moment and then snap away. If you show frustration at not getting the right image, your dog will sense it, and it will be much harder to set the right mood. Definitely do not push it if your dog seems very uncomfortable or stressed at the situation. Those won't make for good photographs either.
- Get down to your dog's level. It makes for a much more compelling photo to see things from your dog's perspective instead of hovering over them. Get on your knees, or even your belly if need be, and take your pictures of them eye-to-eye, slightly above, or even from below.
- Use natural light, no flash. Using a flash will just create the dreaded red-eye effect and possibly frighten your dog. Glowing dog eyes can ruin an otherwise great looking photo. Natural light looks better anyway, so choose to photograph your dog outside or in a room with a large window that provides a good amount of natural light. If natural light is scarce and you must use the flash, don't take the photo while your dog is looking directly at you. Either shoot from the side or wait until your dog is looking slightly away from you. You'll avoid red-eye that way.
- Capture their character. If your dog is naturally lazy, capture him snoozing in a patch of sunlight or yawning. If your dog is active, capture them at play or running. This is how they are, this is how you'll want to remember them.
- Shoot close-ups. Take photos of your dog's face that fill the frame. Keep their eyes, the “windows to the soul”, in sharp focus. A detailed close-up of your dog's face can be a beautiful thing.
- If you're having trouble keeping your dog's attention, try offering treats or toys. Be careful with offering too many treats, however, as your dog may get excited about the food and be too animated to take photographs of or show unsightly drool. Toys make great props for your photos as well.
- Surprise them! Wait til they're quiet and then have someone call them. You'll get a few seconds to take a picture of them alert and looking in a particular direction. Be prepared to take multiple photos then.
- Experiment. Take time to try different angles, compositions, and approaches. Try compositions that are slightly off-center. Zoom in on the elements that define your dog. If you have a point-and-shoot camera, try using the manual settings to see what kind of results you get in different situations.
- Take a lot of pictures. During your session, just shoot pictures. You can take a look later and see what the results are. You might miss something amazing if you're busy looking at pictures instead of shooting them.
Let us know how your photos turn out. Feel free to share them with us and we'll put them in our gallery. If you'd like more detailed information on dog photography, check out our list of dog photography books. Happy picture taking!