Get on their level!
Whether you have a dachshund or a great dane, your dog’s perspective is totally different than yours. A new point of view can make a huge difference in your portraits! So, get on the ground – even try lying down – and see the world from your dog’s eyes.
Look for the light.
Have you ever tried to photograph your dog indoors, at nighttime? Good luck with that! The best place to photograph fast-moving subjects like dogs is outdoors, in large patches of sunlight or shade. If you need to stay inside, make sure all the windows and blinds are open. The more light, the better!
Make it fun for your dog!
Posing for photos can quickly become overwhelming and frustrating for your dog. So be sure to take breaks and have treats ready! You want your dog to associate the camera with positive emotions – that way the smiles and happy faces will come much more naturally. If you make it a fun, positive experience, he’ll get excited and give you his best smile every time you bring out the camera!
Tucker him out first!
Your dog will be much better at sitting still for a photo after he gets all the wiggles out! Take your dog for a walk before any photo session to get a bit of energy out first. Your dog will be much more willing to sit and smile for the camera!
Look for the details.
Does your dog have a unique spotted tail? Big paws? One lopsided ear? A cute butt? A beautiful portrait doesn’t have to include the dog’s whole body; get creative and look for the details that make your dog special. You can even zoom in and look for interesting patterns in your dog’s fur. Macro photography can produce beautiful results!
Know your camera.
Are you working with an iPhone or a DSLR? Knowing your camera’s strengths and limitations is absolutely fundamental, because the more manual controls you have, the more creative you can get. If you’re able, try experimenting with different shutter speeds and apertures; you’ll notice a big difference the more you play around!
Take plenty of photos.
There’s a saying in the action sports photography world: “Shoot 100 photos, and you’ll get 1 keeper.” It’s true for pets, too! Don’t get discouraged if your first few photos aren’t frame-worthy. Digital memory is cheap – so snap away!
Ask for help.
Will a family member help out? It’s handy to have a leash-holder, treat-dispenser and command-giver on your side. So grab a friend, and exchange photo sessions with each others’ pets!
Keep the background simple.
You want to show off your dog’s beauty and personality, right? Keep in mind that a busy, distracting background will take away from your dog being the focus of the photo. Plus, if you try to photograph him somewhere public like a local park, there’s a good chance other dogs and people will be around, not only cluttering your background, but also distracting your dog from focusing on you. Your backyard (however simple it may be) is a great place to get started!
Take your time.
It takes time for all the elements of light, composition and your dog’s position and expression to come together all at once. Expect to spend at least 10-15 minutes with your dog, playing and taking photos, if you want to walk away with a new favorite image. Plus, your dog can pick up on your stress level… so relax, slow down, and enjoy the time you’re spending together!
Tips provided by Allison Shamrell, Owner of Allison Shamrell Pet Photography
Allison is a professional pet photographer in San Diego, CA. She specializes exclusively in working with pets, especially dogs, and has been in business since 2010. Her style is natural, playful and soulful, and photo sessions are held all over San Diego County, as well as in her studio on Adams Avenue.
November 3, 2015 Pet Photography Lecture:
Allison will be speaking at San Diego Humane Society’s San Diego Campus on November 3 with San Diego Pets Magazine’s managing editor, Casey Dean, about “Beginners Pet Photography.” The lecture is free to attend, click here for more information and to RSVP.