How to take great dog photos
As a professional photographer and someone who is obsessed with my dog Yeti, you'd think that taking great photos of Yeti would be easy, well its not. Yeti is amazingly photogenic but he doesn't love to have his picture taken, not even a little bit. I can't tell you how many times, what I thought was a great photo, turns out to have a tongue sticking out, eyes closed, or the blurred motion of my dog turning his photogenic head away from the camera. Sound familiar, well you are not alone, dog photography is hard but it is rewarding and will a few simple rules you can be taking great photos of your dog in no time.
The hook for dog photography and me was a perfect but lucky photo, yes I said it, lucky photo. It was amazing, I got so many likes on instagram that I started to crave the attention of another awesome dog photo. Unfortunately getting consistent great photos of your dog is harder then it should be. Sure you may be blessed with that adorable photogenic dog that loves to sit in front of the camera, but for the rest of us, it takes work. And by work I mean lots of practice and a lot of photos. After years of practice I've developed a system that works for me and I thought I'd share it with the you as we all need more amazing dog photos in our lives.
Rule #1 take a lot of photos, I learned this with toddler photography, which is another subject that never stops moving. You can never take to many photos. True the vast majority of the photos that you take,will never make it off your camera, into social media or onto a printed canvas but there will be that 1% that does. For every 10-20 photos that I take only 1 or 2 are worth keeping. Editing is an important skill as a photographer.
Rule #2 get down to the dogs level, Seriously this is a game changer. Shooting down on your dog, will almost always be awkward and distorted. By getting down to your dogs level you move closer to your dog and the photo perspective will be more natural. Although squatting and kneeling may be the quickest way to get down to your dogs level, I’ve found a few techniques that will save your knees from the hard ground. Photographing your dog on a hill, or on a rock, stairs, bench, chair or any pedestal that will put your dog closer to your eye level will immediately create a better perspective then shooting down at your dogs back or head.
Rule #3 Get some help, Dog photography is difficult to do solo. Enrolling the help of a friend, husband, wife, sister, to help out, can be a huge benefit to your dog photography. When I don’t have an assistant, my go to trick are treats. Treats are the quickest way to get a dogs attention and are a huge source of help for me. My dogs are extremely food motivated and will make eye contact or at least look at a treat. I often combined the treat motivation and personal assistance together, as having someone get their dogs attention with a treat can change a dogs body language from bored to excited, leaving you to concentrate on composing a great photo. (see my blog on composing great dog photos)
Rule #4 Keep trying, ok so this rule is very similar to the 1st rule but that just shows you how important persistence really is. When I set out to take great photos of my dogs I never put my camera away. Even after I’ve taken great photos, I’m always impressed with how often my last few photos are the best of the day. This isn’t always the case but I never know what amazing moment I will capture of my dog that I don’t want to miss. I have also found that as I continue to shoot photos on our walks, both my dogs and myself begin to relax, we act more natural and enjoy the time spent together and for me, relaxed natural and happy dog photos are the best photos I can take.