We all think we have the most beautiful and photogenic dogs in the world. And, we are right. In our world, they are exactly as described. Photos help us capture the moments we treasure with our furry friends, so here are a few tips for taking great photos of your dog.
Capturing a fabulous photo of your dog is rewarding. It often takes some effort to get the shot you want but it is more than worth it.
No one ever thinks their dog lives long enough nor that they have too many photos of them, especially once they have crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Besides, it is fun sharing great photos of our furry best friends with other dog lovers.
It is too bad that our dogs do not always choose to cooperate with us when we are trying to capture them on film (or disc, as the case may be).
These tips for taking great photos of your dog will help you improve the chances of getting the shots you desire.
Photos of Your Dog Can Be Improved By
- The photo is taken from their level rather than from above or below.
- Your dog is engaged in an activity or focused on an object. Props can be very useful.
- The focus of your lens is on the dog’s eyes. You nearly always want to include eye contact in a photo of your dog.
- Capturing an effected expression on your dog is especially desirable.
- Highlighting the texture and color of their fur with effective lighting.
- Backlighting rarely provides the best photo of your dog. Should you be interested in trying to use backlighting, do a silhouette of your dog.
- If your dog has dark eyes, use a highlight in the eyes. This technique opens their eyes and helps create an effected expression. One method for creating a highlight in the eyes is by how you position the light source relative to your dog. If outside, use a very low powered electronic flash Or, if you prefer a more low tech approach, create a cardboard and tinfoil bounce-card that you position in front of the dog’s face
- Indirect lighting is most often the best choice. If you are not using any additional lighting, the best place for indoor photos of your dog is near a doorway or window. However, it is best to avoid the sun shining directly through either the window or the door.
The Use of A Home-Made Reflector Can Save A Photo
A simple reflector strategically placed can greatly improve a photo by bringing up the exposure level on the shadow side. If your dog’s fur is black (or very dark brown), it is easy for shadows to blur the edges of your dog’s body. The use of a reflector can prevent the shadows from doing so.
How To Make An Effective Yet Inexpensive Reflector Board
Making a reflector is not hard nor does it cost a lot of money. You will need to obtain a piece of either foam board or sturdy cardboard.
It needs to be about 3 feet x 4 feet. Glue aluminum foil on one side of the board and make the other side flat white in color. The foil side is for producing a much brighter light.
It can be quite spectacular if used correctly. The white side of the board will reflect more even and much softer light for the photo.
How Do You Know Which Side of The Reflector Board to Use?
While this depends upon the source of your light and the color of your dog’s fur, there are some generalities. Use the white side for light fur and the aluminum foil side for darker fur.
Tips For Taking Great Photos of Your Dog Outside
- It is best to photograph your dog in the shade and without direct sunlight. The shade needs to be consistent. Any dappling of light breaking through the shaded area creates problems with exposure.
- Slightly overcast days are best. Having a thin veil of clouds is ideal. If there is a heavy covering of clouds, your exposure will be reduced and problems with White Balance can occur.
- Try to take your photos during what is called the Golden Hour in photography. This either right before sunrise or after sunset when the lighting of the sun is less intense and softer. Observe whether the color of the light is soft or harsh. If the red, orange or yellow colors are bright and harsh, place the dog in front of the sun. By the way, this is also true when photographing humans as well.
- Puppy in a box
Wiggles Make For Giggles But Not For Great Photos
While you may have lots of fun playing with your pup and find his antics hilarious, your photos are unlikely to capture those memories very clearly.
If you play long enough to expend much of his energy, you may have a better chance of getting him to focus long enough for you to get some great photos.
It is best to avoid accidentally clipping off ears, tails or paws, or tail at the frame’s edge.
Not all dogs have the personality or patience for remaining still while you find the perfect pose. Your patience will need to make up for their lack of it.
You do not want them exhausted but it is best if their energy level has been drained a little bit, at least. Then it will be easier for you to creatively entertain them and to keep them where you need them to stay.
Sit and Stay Does Not Come Natural To A Dog
Try to contain your dog by the chosen location. Effectively block off three sides of escape if it is possible.
Also, do your best to identify and remove all potentially disruptive and unnecessary objects from the area where you will be photographing.
ANOTHER TIP: Toys and treats are useful for directing your dog’s attention in your direction but they can also help contain them in the area as well. For the best effect, be sure to hold the toy or the treat close to the camera lens.
A Bonus Tip: Dogs and Humans Belong Together
Not only does including a human member of the family in the photo add a personal touch, it helps to contain the dog as well. Try your best to show the faces of both the human and the dog if possible.
If they have a close bond it often shows through and makes the photo especially moving. Photos that evoke emotion will help you recall memories for decades after the moment is gone. These will be your best photos.
Tips For Taking Great Photos of Your Dog While On The Move
We all want to capture our dog’s captivating personality. Successfully doing so, especially if he is in perpetual motion, is going to be a significant challenge.
Rarely do our dogs display what we are hoping to photograph under the perfect conditions for doing so.
We are not restricted to using a mirrorless or a DSLR camera for all photographs of our dogs. If you have not yet tried to use your cell phone camera, you may be pleasantly surprised.
I have been shocked at the quality of photographs I have taken on my cell phone camera! I love my DSLR but the convenience of my cell phone camera cannot be denied. If you need to take a quick shot, especially indoors, you really should try it.
But, When Only A DSLR Will Do
There are situations in which a mirrorless camera or a DSLR camera is the best choice. Here are a few settings you may wish to try as a starting place.
- Set the shutter priority to fit the anticipated activity level.
- Select ISO to automatic and set it to the camera’s maximum ISO allowed (1200 is recommended).
- Choose the camera’s setting for RAW file.
- Use the Auto WB setting.
- If you have a preference for either a center cluster or focus point.
- Select either auto or continuous focus mode if available on your camera.
- While not a setting, a zoom lens add to your creative options and is desirable.
After the fact tip
There is an inexpensive yet powerful tool for removing unwanted objects in a photo. If you are interested in a stand-alone app for editing your photos on Android, IOS, Mac-OS, or Windows, check out TouchRetouch. This app is very easy to use.
One Last Thought On Taking Great Photos of Your Dog
We have all heard that the windows to the soul are through the eyes. This is especially true when you are talking about the eyes of your dog. This is probably the reason that the most critical element of taking your dog’s photo is the focus on his eyes.
MAJOR TIP: If your dog has eyes of an exotic color, do not give in to the temptation to over-saturate or brighten their color. The photo should be about the dog and not just the color of his eyes. His eye color may enhance him as an individual but should not be what defines him.
Summary of Tips For Taking Great Photos of Your Dog
- You can take great photos of your dog with any camera, even the one on your smart-phone.
- Having a camera set and ready to use at all times increases your chances of getting that “once in a lifetime shot”.
- If using a mirrorless or DSLR camera, use a Zoom lens for the ability to speedily recompose your shots.
- Try to avoid an electronic flash, especially when taking photos inside.
- When shooting indoors, window light is best. If outdoors and there is no consistently shaded area and the day is not slightly overcast, take advantage of the Golden Hour.
A few questions to ask yourself before snapping the photo.
- Is my camera at my dog’s eye level?
- Does the background add to the mood or add a sense of place without distracting from the overall shot?
- Have I placed the main focus on my dog’s eyes?
- Does my dog have an alert and happy expression?
- Is the lighting set to a highlight my dog’s eyes (if they are dark) and to accentuate his fur?
If you want to know more about how to photograph your dog, here is a link to a real expert in this field. While I have taken photos of dogs for years and still enjoy doing so, I defer to the true expertise demonstrated by the professional photographers who specialize in this area.
Photos Courtesy of Pixabay (other than the Rottweiler in the grass which is courtesy of Jack and Jane Snedden)
Info Is based on concepts taken from the “The Photography Action Cards “. if you want further training, you can check it out here. https://photzy.com/ld/actioncards/?utm_source=affiliate&utm_medium=picturecorrect&utm_campaign=affiliate&utm_content=actioncards&sc_ref=073584