Dog Photography Tips
Dog portrait photography tips
Dogs are the perfect subjects for all kinds of photographs. Their energy, unpredictability, and overall joyfulness can be turned into eye-catching dog photography, utter chaos, or both.
You can avoid that unnecessary chaos by familiarising yourself with a few dog photography tips.
Top 5 Dog Photography Tips and Techniques
The pros make it look easy, but anyone who has ever tried to photograph an unpredictable creature like a dog knows it is anything but. Here are some pet photography tips that the pros use to help you ‘get the perfect shot’ .
This is a tutorial on dog photography
I love photographing all animals, but dogs would have to be my favourite subjects. They’re our best friends and our loyal companions, always pleased to see us and happy for each day they get to spend with us.
During a photo session I take between 100-200 images, of which I show 10-15 to my client at a later date. I like to capture more than I need to ensure I haven’t missed any of the poses I’m after.
The sessions have a similar intensity to a dog training session and require the same sort of mental focus from a dog, and they’ll often have a nap when they get home.
I will start with this tip first because it’s the most important of them all. Nothing is worth doing if it’s not fun. Whether you are photographing indoors or outside, the simple key to relaxed animal portraits is to create an environment where your subject is happy.
Don’t rely on your camera to do all the work. It is just a tool and the photographer is the storyteller. Do you want to do a close-up? Full body shot? Have lots of background in the picture?
First advice on dog photography
1. Relax 😉
Animals are like little emotional sponges, and if you are stressed and anxious, they will sense it and become stressed and anxious too. A stressed animal will give you ‘ears flattened’, ‘concerned eyes’ looks, which don’t translate well ‘on film’. Take a deep breath and remember to have fun with it!
2. Use Natural Light
You don’t necessarily have to worry about flashes and complicated lighting setups when taking photos of dogs. The best option is to use natural, continuous light that won’t frighten them or cause red-eye in your images. Whether you’re using ambient or studio lights, the general rule is to go for bright, diffused light that will help create more flattering portraits.
3. Get on Their Level
A cute pet portrait of a dog buried on autumn leaves.
Though there’s nothing wrong with taking photos of dogs from unusual angles, it’s important to get on their level sometimes.
This will not only make them feel more comfortable, but also encourage you to experiment with new angles.
To take this tip to the next level, photograph your dog as it plays, runs, and rests. You’ll end up with unique photos that you and your clients will love!
2. Use Fast Shutter Speeds
Now here’s one reason why it can be very difficult to capture photos of pets. More often than not, you’ll need to use a camera that offers fast shutter speeds to freeze action. This means you’ll also need to know how to configure camera settings in manual mode.
Some digital cameras offer a programmed Pet Mode, but it’s usually not enough to capture well-exposed, tack-sharp images—so your best bet is to use a DSLR, mirrorless camera, or at least a special app that allows you to adjust manual camera settings. 1/500th sec at f/5.6 ISO 500
1. Focus on the eyes
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, and this is no different for animals. One of the ways animals express emotion and character is through their eyes.
Sparkly bright eyes, sad, droopy eyes, blinks, side glances, looking upwards—each different eye movement reflects their feelings at that moment in time.
Engaging portraits come from ensuring your subject’s eyes are captured in your shot.
Aside from camera gear and photography know-how, another important thing that dog photography requires is patience—and a lot of it. Pets obviously can’t follow specific instructions unless they’re trained by a professional. At the same time, they’re known to absorb human energy, so if you end up getting stressed out or frustrated, they’ll sense it and will begin to mirror your feelings.
The worst thing you can do is to raise your voice and repeatedly command them to do certain things, as this will only confuse or freak out your pet. If they ever do stay still, you’ll get photos of them with flat ears and concerned eyes that don’t look good on camera. Remember, they can sense what you’re feeling, so the more relaxed you are, the higher the chances of you getting a decent shot.
Even if you’re not planning to becoming a pro, you can still use these tips to take the best possible photos of your beloved dog.