As a dog owner, you love to fill your phone with photos of your furbaby. Today’s technology makes it simple for you to photograph everything and anything they do. Although capturing these everyday moments that make your heart melt is sometimes easier said than done. Here are eight practical pet photography tips to help you take your photos from good to great!
1. Get on their level
The most engaging photos are taken when we view the world from your dog’s eye level. Their personality will shine through when they don’t have to look straight up at the camera. If crouching down is physically demanding, place your pet on an elevated surface like a bench or table. Take a look at how changing my viewpoint changes the feeling in each photo of Camber:
2. Look for the light
The time of day and lighting conditions have a big impact on the look of your photo. In most cases, you would want to avoid using flash or ceiling fixtures as your main source of light. Instead look for soft, even lighting both outside and indoors:
- Seek out big shady areas or shoot during golden hour (the few hours after sunrise or before sunset).
- Watch out for full sun in the middle of the day as you’ll get undesirable, harsh shadows and squinty eyes.
- Fluffy dogs such as Pomeranians, Huskies, and Shiba Inus will look great with some backlight. This is achieved by shooting into the sun to create a rim light around your dog. Just make sure there is enough light in the back of you to illuminate the front of their body.
- If you are indoors, position your dog facing any large source of natural light such as a big window, sliding glass door, or under a covered patio.
3. Feed the model
Control your dog’s attention by holding a treat near your camera’s lens. If they need a little more motivation, consider using high-value treats (something they don’t often get to eat) like cheese, chicken, or peanut butter. Break them up into small pieces and reward them every so often. This will help condition them to look toward the camera! Every dog is different and sometimes a favorite toy, sticks, or unusual sounds work better to capture their attention.
4. Use a fast shutter speed
Be ready to photograph any quick movement with a fast shutter speed. A blurry dog detracts from the overall photo even when you managed to capture a cute expression. As a rule of thumb, I always try to use a shutter speed of at least 1/250 when shooting portraits and 1/1250 when freezing action. If you are using a smartphone, using your burst mode setting will help in getting a sharp photo.
5. Focus on their eyes
The eyes are the window to the soul and definitely my favorite feature of a dog. Since so much emotion and personality is conveyed through their eyes, I make sure to get them tack sharp in my photos. Manually place your focus point over their eye if your camera has that option. Sometimes if you let it choose for you, their nose or other features will end up in focus.
6. Remove distractions
Be mindful of what is in your surroundings before taking a photo. At home, spending a few minutes cleaning up some background clutter can make a huge difference. Outside, avoid shooting in front of large signs, trash cans, and crowds of people. This can be an eyesore and take the focus away from the star of the photo, your dog!
7. Get creative.
If you typically photograph your dog at home or at their favorite park, there are several things you can try to create variety:
- Change up the scenery with a new location
- Capture a silhouette at sunset
- Look at your pet from different angles to get dynamic shots
- Enhance your photo by using subtle props. Flowers or colorful leaves can easily add a pop of color to your image
- Look for bold colors and unique backgrounds
8. Have fun!
Always make photo time a positive experience. Capturing dogs at play will get you some fun shots. Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t getting the shot, your dog can pick up on your energy! If you notice any signs of stress or anxiety – whimpering, ears pinned back, tail tucked, excessive yawning – just take a break. Go for a walk together, throw some toys around, and try again later. You are much more likely to get a great photo if you both are genuinely having fun! Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect, some of the best photos are the candid “in between” shots you don’t plan for.