Here’s the thing, though – if you’re going to inflict dog pictures on your friends, you should at least have the courtesy to make sure that they are good pictures. So how can you take really, really good pictures? Here are eight tips to help you get the most out of your dog’s photo session.
1. Look After the Lighting
Seriously. You might think that you have a beautiful setup, with your dog doing something incredibly cute, but it can all fail with the lighting. Usually, you should avoid artificial lighting. If you’re photographing your dog inside the house, open up the curtains so that you can get a lot of natural light. It softens shadows, and also eliminates the possibility of “bursts” of light that you might get if you use a flash.
If you’re photographing outdoors, choose an overcast day. This works best for creating even shadowing, and is better for dogs with dark coats. If you must shoot on a sunny day, then ideally, take your shots late in the evening or early in the morning when the sun is low.
No, seriously. If you want to motivate your dog to give you the shot you want, then offer treats, and be persistent, the same as you would during training. Eventually, your dog will get the idea of what you want him to do. Be persistent.
3. Look After the Angle
The worst mistake people make when photographing pets is to stand and shoot toward the pet. The trouble here is that you’re not on the same level, so all you’re going to get is a great shot of what looks like a long, long back, and a face looking up at you. You need to get down on your dog’s level, and try to see things the way your dog would.
4. Consider the Background
Everything that is behind your dog is going to show up in the photo. So if you have a bag full of cans to go back to the recycling depot, it’s there. If you have a dead tree in your yard, it’s there. If you have a beat up old vehicle – well, you get the idea. Think about what’s in the background, and if it’s not good, find another location for your photograph.
5. Look for Personality
What makes you go “Aww….” when you look at your dog? Is it his brilliant smile? The way he tucks his paws under his chest when he’s tired? That funny way he screws up his face when he’s bouncing toward his favorite toy? These are the things people want to see.
6. Consider Group Shots
Okay, group shots are hard. But if your dog has a lot of siblings, or buddies, then pics of them all together can really tug at the heartstrings. You could stage shots, with various handlers looking after various dogs, and in fact, that’s probably the easiest way to get a group shot. Otherwise, you’re going to have to wait, look for it, and be patient.
7. Carry Your Camera With You All the Time
You know all the cute things your dog does. So use those situations. If he rolls over and asks for a tummy rub at bedtime, have your camera with you. If he splashes in puddles when it rains, don’t go outside on rainy days without the camera. If he cocks his head to one side when you say certain words, say the words with camera in hand.
8. Look for Candid Shots and Snap Like Crazy
Have you ever seen a TV show where they show photo shoots of models? The photographer is snapping away like there’s no tomorrow. He’s getting everything, every single expression, and he knows that out of all those dozens of shots he’s taking, probably only a handful are going to be worth putting online or in a magazine. That’s what you have to do. Go out with your dog, and snap and snap and snap. It’s not like you have to worry about the cost of developing film, not with today’s digital cameras. If you continue snapping, eventually you are going to find something worth keeping.
And finally, have fun. That’s really what it’s all about, having fun with your dog. If you get great pics, bonus. If you don’t, try again.
Framing Your Pictures
You could, of course, buy a very expensive frame. Or make something yourself to honor your dog. Or go with those frames I really like from Kathy. It’s up to you. The main thing, I suppose, is that you have fun taking pictures of your dog, and then you have fun displaying them. That’s really all that matters. Love your dog, take pictures of your dog, and inflict them on all your Facebook friends, and of course display them in your home as well. It’s all good and it’s all fun, right?