As humans, we are constantly amazed by the visual beauty of the world around us. Images have the power to move us, but often it is very difficult to catch the essence of the subject you are photographing. This is especially true for our four-legged friends, who are now challenging babies as the most difficult family member to photograph. Luckily, professionals are getting better at taking pictures of dogs and they offer some great advice for all aspiring pet photographers, the most important being – have patience and lots of it.
Timing is everything in photography. Even if you maintain your poker face and keep your cool, a good dog portrait will surely take time. Each dog is different, has unique fears, rhythms and pet peeves and each one will take different amounts of time to relax enough in front of the camera. This is especially true when you’re taking pictures of puppies. It is up to you to maintain focus through the boring moments in order to catch the perfect image. Often times a dog will at first sense that you are up to something, but after awhile they will go back to their normal selves and give you a chance to take some cute dog pictures of them looking their best.
All those who were lucky enough to own a dog know how well adapted they are to reading and mimicking human emotions. Some of us would go as far as calling our dogs cunning, sneaky or guilty! Even though dogs are cannot feel these complex emotions, they can understand if you are tense and uncomfortable and will be anxious, too. Taking deep breaths and staying calm throughout what will surely be many blurry shots is the key (don’t be afraid to experiment with exposure and shutter speed settings). Keep reassuring your dog that there is nothing alarming going on so they can relax and show their natural selves to the camera!
It may cross your mind to try and use squeaky toys, ropes or food to direct your dog’s sight and get some phenomenal dog pictures. And you would not be wrong! If your dog is famous for giving you “the puppy eyes”, keep a tasty snack above the camera. Let your dog play with his favorite toy to get a good shot, but be careful, if he gets too tired you won’t be able to get anything but funny panting photos. And don’t be afraid to think outside of the box – putting the dog on the sofa may relax an especially feisty or young puppy. This also allows you to get closer and perhaps capture a more intimate shot of your favorite guy.
There are countless beautiful animal portraits, but what makes some of them stand out from the rest? Another sound piece of advice is to make your surroundings work for and not against you. Natural surroundings such as parks and beaches can definitely add something to the image when it comes to taking pictures of dogs, but only if you have the right camera and if you and your doggo can find a nice solitary spot where you will not be disturbed. Studio spaces can provide amazing lighting conditions and are often terrifying for all but the bravest pups. Sometimes playing it safe pays off. Where else would a dog feel safest than in his own home, surrounded by the toys and the people he knows best?
You may have heard that putting some peanut butter on the shower wall works for encouraging some scared dogs to take a bath once in a while, by keeping them occupied during a stressful time. Once again, peanut butter saves the day. Its irresistible taste and sticky texture will give you a good shot at keeping your dog’s attention. You can get some fantastic cute puppy pictures this way. Give your pet a taste and take some continuous shots, the hidden trick being to get a piece of it stuck to the top of their mouth, so that they’ll need some time to gulp down all of it!
Like the peanut butter, this one is more like a cheat than a tip – but it works every time! It basically combines stuffed animals and resilient cameras to make a useful prop. Plush cameras gained their popularity through making some lovely toddler photos but have found another use with other cute family members, too. They will enable you to catch the dog’s reaction to the colorful toy, their curiosity, and desire for it. And if all else fails; they have squeakers built inside them!
Hopefully, some bits of our experience and advice will help you take a perfect portrait of your dog, something that every owner will value throughout their lives. Just be careful to take into consideration the safety of your dog if it has some health issues or if you are planning on choosing an especially adventurous setting for your shoot. Stay safe and make some unforgettable memories together!
For more than eight years now, PhotographyTalk has been helping both amateur and professional photographers in improving their skills and learning new and interesting things about their craft. With posts published on large platforms such as Forbes and even the Huffington Post, they relentlessly continue their mission of helping people make better photos every day.