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Dog photography can be a fun and challenging hobby, but it can also be frustrating if your photos never seem to turn out quite right.
Photo shooting is an art, and when it comes to capturing our pets, dogs are pretty much the perfect subject. They’re adorable, fun-loving, and can be photogenic with a little introduction.
The major hurdle in dog photography is our inability to tell them what we want and their rather unpredictable nature.
But with the right preparation, tools, and mindset, you can take the perfect ‘Pawtraits’ or action stills of your furry friend without breaking a sweat.
Here are some 10 tips for improving dog photography skills that will help you in taking better photos of your canine companion, and in becoming a self-taught dog photographer.
Dog Photography at A Glance
Dog photography is the art of capturing some of the beautiful moments of your dog’s life. It works well with all different kinds of breeds, sizes, and dogs of all ages.
Most dog photographers have a studio where they can control the illumination, props, and background. But some prefer to work outdoors which creates the perfect scenes for action photos.
To be a good dog photographer, you must be able to capture the unique personality of the dog and sometimes use creative techniques to bring out the best in your subjects.
What You Will Need
You will need to have a good camera, photography kit, and other accessories to get the most from this exercise. You can go for a DSLR, mirrorless, or action camera depending on what you want and your ideal type of shots.
If you are shooting outdoor photos or trying to capture images of your dog in motion, it is best to use a tripod stand. This will help to physically stabilize your camera and avoid blurry photographs.
Action photography can also be made better by using a fast shutter speed. This will help to freeze the movement and capture clear photographs of your active dog. If you’re shooting in dim light, consider using a high ISO setting to avoid blurry photos.
You should not get limited if you don’t have a DSLR or an action camera. The current smartphones are fitted with powerful lenses which can take really good photos on the go.
Put on the right clothing for the job as you might be required to kneel or even lie down on the ground to get the perfect shots. I recommend that you wear waterproof pants or an overall to make you more adventurous.
You can carry along some knee pads to help cushion your knees when taking the perfect shot of your dog.
Make sure to take plenty of treats and some toys with you, as these will come in handy for getting your dog’s attention during the snapshot.
10 Tips for Improving Dog Photography
The best way to improve your dog photography skills is by practicing regularly with your dog. Here are some helpful tips on how you can get better at your dog photography skills:
1. Know Your Dog
Your dog is the main subject of focus here and it is therefore important that you understand the persona you are dealing with.
If you have a highly energetic dog who loves being up and down, then you should prepare for an intensive photo session with high unpredictability.
If your pooch is calmed and relaxed, then you need to know what to avoid and the type of instructions they may be willing to obey to create a happy mood.
2. Know Your Camera
Read your camera’s manual to know the settings before introducing your dog into the shot. Find out the correct figures on exposure settings, focus settings, drive modes, and lighting techniques before taking the shots.
This will make you conversant with what you need to do in different lighting and exposure conditions.
3. Pick The Right Lens for Your Situation
Different focal lengths offer a different Depth of Field (DoF) at any given aperture, as well as compression and distortion effects that can change the look of your pup’s photos dramatically.
If you want sharper details, go for longer lenses but if you want wide-angle shots with more background, use shorter focal lengths.
The most common lenses for dog photography are the 70-200mm which are known for their reliable aperture (the opening that lets light in).
4. Get The Right Background
The background of your shot can be just as important as the subject itself. Look for interesting textures or patterns that will add some depth and interest to your shots.
Analyze the background of your shot and make sure that there aren’t any distractions that could take the focus away from your dog.
Go for a blank wall or other simple backdrops when shooting portraits. For action stills, you can consider going to a nearby park or field with minimal clutter in the background to get that perfect shot.
You can use appropriate and safe props to help convey your dog’s personality. If they love playing fetch, for example, bring along a ball or frisbee for some fun shots.
5. Find The Best Lights
We recommend that you use natural light whenever possible. Dog photography often turns out to be better when natural light is used over flash, as it creates softer images and can reduce harsh shadows on your pup’s face.
Natural light also allows you to switch up angles when taking action photos of your furry friend. If you need to supplement it, you can use diffused lighting such as reflectors or softboxes so that you don’t overwhelm your subject with too much brightness.
If you are planning to capture indoor photos of your dog, then you should go for a camera that has impressive low-light abilities with high but practical ISO ranges.
I would recommend that you avoid using flash in your photos since it can be scary to your dog and might make them frustrated during the shot.
6. Get Down to Their Level
Nothing will make you look at your dog in a whole new view like getting on their level and seeing the world through their eyes. You can kneel or lie flat to join your dog closer to the ground.
Not only will this help you get great shots, but it can also be an amazing opportunity to connect with your pet in a whole new way.
7. Capture Candid Moments and Change the Angles
Try to get shots that show your pup in their natural environment; inside, outside, or playing with the family, instead of making them pose for the camera.
Dog photography shouldn’t be just about taking portrait pictures from the same angle every time.
You should try testing out various angles and viewpoints to snap unique images. Consider shooting from above, below, or even using a fisheye lens for a fun shot. Let them play, explore, and be themselves, and you’ll be sure to capture some great moments.
Remember not to force your dog into a pose they don’t feel comfortable to be in. Doing this will only make the photo turn out to be boring.
8. Focus On Your Pup’s Eyes
Dog’s eyes are incredibly expressive and convey so much emotion which always makes all the difference in the pictures.
It is much easier to focus on the dog’s nose and miss the eyes especially if they are looking straight at you. This could result in an average photo without much to read.
Whether they are sparkling bright, teary, or sad this is the perfect place to write your dog’s emotions on a picture.
To achieve sharp focus, move the focus point on your camera from the dog’s nose toward the middle of their forehead as you take the shot.
9. Use Treats and Toys to Get Your Dog’s Attention
Find out what motivates your dog to focus and cooperate, is it treats, toys, or both? If your pooch is motivated by treats, you can have some in hand to make them attentive when they seem bored.
Take the treat and wave it close to your dog’s nose and let them inhale that yummy smell. Pull your hand away and your dog’s attention will shift to where it is taken. This will create a good moment that you can use to snap a great shot of your pup.
If your dog likes to get interactive with creaky toys, don’t forget to carry them along to the photography session.
10. Have Fun and Enjoy Yourself
Wearing that serious face when taking photos of your dog might transcend down to your dog’s moods. Make sure to enjoy the process and move at your dog’s pace during the entire time.
Once your pup sees that you are enjoying the photo sessions, they will most likely try to please you by getting calm, relaxed, and happy.
This will help in capturing their joyful moments and will make them always look forward to appearing for the upcoming photo sessions.
To Sum Up
Consider using some of these 10 tips for improving dog photography if you want to take your skills to a notch higher.
Not only will they help make the photos look better, but they’ll also help you capture the personality of your furry friend.
Have fun trying out these techniques and see the ones that work best for you and your pup. And if you have any questions or need more advice on how to take great pet photos, don’t hesitate to reach out.
If you still find it difficult to capture the perfect photos of your dog then don’t let them miss out on a great experience.
You can consider hiring a professional dog photographer to get the job done. Give me a call today and I will gladly help you out in capturing your pup’s moments within Dubai and its environs.
Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a pet expert with more than 20 years of experience working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.
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