Dog Photography Tips: the sun’s out (at last) and Easter weekend most of us are going to be out and about with our dogs somewhere, even if it’s only the local park.
And it’s that time of year when we’re tempted to dig out the camera and start trying to get the dogs to pose long enough for a decent shot. (One that doesn’t involved an awful lot of grass and a disappearing tail!)
By no means exhaustive, but here are my top ten dog photography tips to help you get the best possible pictures of your furry friends.
1. Show your dog the camera first! It may sound daft but a lot of dogs can feel quite threatened by a camera – especially if you’ve got a big SLR which they’ve never seen before! Or they come bounding over to investigate and you get big smeary drool marks over your lens. Let them have a sniff and realise you are still there and before long they will be ignoring you completely.
2. Watch the background. Your dog might be looking gorgeous, but if he’s got an electricity pylon growing out of his head, it’s not going to be a photo worth putting on canvas. Unless the background tells a story, or you can throw it out of focus, make sure it is as uncluttered as possible, so the focus is on the dog, and not the overflowing dustbin behind him!
4. Focus on the eyes. Unless you are going for some sort of special effect, and as long as the dog is still. The eyes are the main feature, so make sure they are in focus.
5. Watch the ears. You might be focusing on the eyes, but dod have a look at what the ears are doing! If they are back, the dog may look uncomfortable or worried. The best pose is when they are pricked up and forward. They may not stay long like this so you need to be ready to click quick when you’ve got your dog’s attention.
6. Make funny noises. Yes. You feel an idiot sometimes, but you can’t call a dog’s name to get her attention: she’ll come bounding over to you. A strange squeak or mew or elephant impression should cause her to look straight at you, prick her ears and possibly put her hear to one side. You should be focused before you start squawking, so click immediately and you should hopefully get a nice shot
7. Usually you want the sun behind you, so the dog is coming toward the sun. Be careful with that one though. If it’s too bright you will get a squinty dog. It is especially important with a black dog, or you can tend to lose their features and not pick out the eyes very easily.
8. If you’re photographing puppies, wear them out a bit first! When I started I would regularly go into a litter of puppies, spend an hour chasing them around and get some excellent shots of tails disappearing then stop to play for a while, and as they calm down, get some really nice pictures. Much better to play with them first, have fun then get the camera out when they’re a bit more tired and calmer.
9. Be careful of leads etc. If your dog is well trained and can be put in a stay off the lead then your photo will be better without a lead. If you need to take the picture with the lead on, get someone to hold it up out of the way so it doesn’t distract from the dog. Or better still if you have access to some editing software you can airbrush it out afterwards.
10. Get down to eye level with the dog. It’s amazing how many dog photos are taken from a standing position, looking down on the dog. Much, much better to crouch down at her level for that magic shot. You don’t have to sit in the mud (although I often end up doing just that) but try getting down as far as you can to your dog’s level (or even lower, for an interesting effect) and you will be amazed at the difference in the quality of your photos.
Above all, have fun photographing your dogs. The wonderful thing about digital photography is that it doesn’t matter how many shots go horribly wrong – you just delete and carry on. So keep trying for that excellent shot and try not to get frustrated at how fast they move!!
And if you’ve found our dog photography tips helpful, why not share them with a friend?!