Dogs are a lot of things to a lot of people, everything from a hunting buddy to a best friend and playmate. Here’s a quick guide to give you a few tips on how to get ten must have everyday shots that show the personality and character of your dog.
As with a lot of animal shots the key is in the preparation. Dogs have no table manners and many eat as though the challenge is to get rid of the food as fast as possible. With very little time to work you need to be in position and with your camera set ready to go. Take a few test shots if you can, use a similar sized toy so you can look for areas that will be shaded as they eat etc. then let your dog (or dogs) in and shoot on burst mode to make sure you miss nothing.
I chose a cheap plastic table cloth to give a bold colored backdrop for my mostly white dog model. I then took a few test shots without Nora dog first to make sure I was ready.
Tip: Get down low to bowl level. To take this shot I was lying on the floor.
Nobody wants a shot of a sad looking dog and the best way to avoid that is to give them one of their favorite toys and let them play. You know your dog and what they like.
Tip: Never assume you know what someone else’s dog likes best so if you’re shooting for someone else ask them for as much detail as possible and get them to bring along a few favorite toys.
3.Catch them napping
Getting a dog to pretend to be asleep takes a huge amount of training. It’s possible but you’re best option is to let it happen naturally.
Either wear them out with a long, long walk so they’ll sleep anywhere or be patient and keep your camera in your hand as you go about the house. A zoom lens can help but really the best way is to creep around the house or keep your camera beside you as you both settle down for an evening in front of the TV.
Tip: A little planning in advance to stage your dogs’ chosen sleeping area makes for a less cluttered shot. Think about a colored blanket or moving the clutter before your dog naps.
Getting out to the park is an exciting time for a dog. Hang back and take some shots as your model and their owner walk down the street. Then take some time for a relaxed yet posed photo in the park of dog and owner
Tip: Take the photo at the end of the dogs walk to get a less wiggly model with a panting smiley looking expression.
A good time to be getting shots that are all about fun and love without posing are when you’re giving the dog treats or rewards.
Tip: Don’t worry about the background, depth of field or exposure, just catch a candid shot of your dog at its happiest enjoying the reward of a favorite treat.
6.Dog’s eye view
A dog is going to see the world differently to how you do simply because their eyes are lower to the ground. Take some of your shots from that same viewpoint, include either them or one of their playmates.
Tip: The dogs and your safety and comfort come first. Only shoot from between your dogs ears if they are comfortable and confident around you and the camera. If there is any doubt use a long zoom and crop later.
It’s important that you end up with shots that show your dog doing the things they enjoy. For action shots always use burst mode and record in jpg so you miss nothing. Pre focus on where you want to take your shot then start shooting as they reach that point and keep going until they pass it. The middle shot in the group you took should be in focus.
Tip: Raise the ISO if necessary, slow shutter speeds can cause motion blur and ruin a great shot.
8.Get up close
When you want a shot of your dog being still patience is the key. In the beginning they’ll be interested in your camera but after a few hours you’ll be able to get as close as you want. The shot below took well over an hour, thankfully the dog got bored first but it was a close thing.
Tip: A UV filter will protect your camera lens from licks and wet noses if your model gets too interested.
9.Unusual habits or personality
Remember, the idea is to let the dog’s personality show through, this isn’t fine art so if things turn out differently to your plans then keep shooting. You never know, accidents can lead to great shots.
Muppet dog had plenty of odd habits and this shot shows just one of them, she liked her veggies. This dog ate sweetcorn cobs and got terribly over excited when we harvested the carrots in the veggie plot.
Tip: Keep your camera with you so you don’t disturb your pet as you go to get it. A small point and shoot or phone camera in your pocket allows you to grab the shot and then if time allows you can use your main camera.
Dog’s are full of personality and quirky habits and these should be photographed but it’s also a great idea to take a more formal posed shot of your dog. One that shows their features and markings and all their beauty. Now formal needn’t mean continuous backdrops and studio lights.
I took this shot of Muppet dog as she came out to supervise some gardening. She posed herself well and all I needed was make sure I got a sharp shot.
If you dog competes at dog shows it’s the perfect time to catch them looking their best. Use a moderately long lens and don’t get in the way of either them or the judges.
Does your dog have a favorite chair to curl up on? If so why not sit in wait with your camera.
Tip: Mobile phones make handy tools for dog photography. Use them to play strange noises that will keep their attention for long enough to get that interested expression and pricked up ears.
Dogs are loving loyal companions and deserve to be photographed. Stop and think about your dog model and his or her habits and personality then grab your camera and start shooting.