Part of any photographer’s instinct is to capture everything that they find beautiful and are close to their hearts, including their beloved pets. Dogs, for one, make some of the cutest, funniest, and most vibrant photography subjects. As pet owners, we’ve all wished we could capture the best of our dogs with a brilliant photograph. Whether they’re long- or short-haired, big or small, energetic or laid-back, there’s no better way to capture brilliant memories than with a photo. But taking the perfect portrait of your dog can be a challenge. Just as it is when photographing young children, it can be very difficult to capture really good shots due to their unpredictability.
Here are a few practical and helpful tips to make your pictorial as easy and convenient as possible for you and your pet. Read on to discover more about dog portraits.
Trick them with Treats and Toys
The trickiest part of animal photography is that pets don’t understand posing instructions like other subject matter. A few treats and favorite toys can go a long way in getting pets to stay put or look in a certain direction. A dog that’s been trained to sit and stay, in particular, will be much easier to work with when he’s eager to listen for that treat. Food bribes can work with other critters too since even untrained dogs will often look towards the smell of that treat.
Dogs don’t have to be sitting still to get great shots, however — and that’s where a favorite toy comes in. Using some of the same camera settings you’d use for sports photography, you can freeze a game of fetch or the attack on that stuffed mouse.
Use the Right Light
Light is crucial to good photography. Cameras cannot operate without light. Outdoor photography can be challenging as you cannot control outdoor lighting conditions. It could be sunny one minute, overcast the next.
Dogs' fur can shine and reflect in full fun, so even light is best, like a shaded area. Overcast days with a light sky are favorable outdoor shooting conditions. Planning not only where to shoot in good light, but also what time of the day provides the best light, will greatly assist with the exposure of your subject.
Focus on the Eyes
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, and this is no different for dogs. One of the ways dogs express emotion and character is through their eyes. Sparkly bright eyes, sad, droopy eyes, blinks, side glances, looking upwards—each different eye movement reflects their feelings at that moment in time. Engaging portraits come from ensuring your dog’s eyes are captured in your shot.
Patience was the first thing I had to learn when I started photographing animals and it’s a crucial factor when taking portraits of your dog. Repeating movements and words calmly and gently creates a chilled atmosphere for your dog.
Patience in pet photography is a three-step process:
- Calmly wait until your subject does what you want
- Take a burst of images to get “the shot”
- If you miss the moment, go back to step 1 and repeat.
Taking your time when you work leads to a relaxed subject that is more likely to do the poses and expressions their owners know and love. You can’t force animals or rush them to do what you want.
Be bold and experimental
If you seem to always be getting the same kind of photos, be creative. Try crouching down for close-up shots, shooting out of a window and zooming in while your pet looks up at you, perhaps even lying on the floor while they excitedly make a fuss over you! Put them in interesting places (so long as they are happy to be there) and keep snapping away.
Get on their Level
Though there’s nothing wrong with taking photos of dogs from unusual angles, it’s important to get on their level sometimes. This will not only make them feel more comfortable, but also encourage you to experiment with new angles. To take this tip to the next level, photograph your dog as it plays, runs, and rests.
Capture Their Character
Even better than a cute close-up of your pet is a photo of them that conveys their character. If your dog is the playful type, you should definitely add a picture of him in action in your proposed shot list. If the dog loves lounging around, take a snap of him yawning while lying in his favorite bed. Those precious photos will definitely be for keeps!
If you wish to make them hold still, try this simple trick: let them play quietly and, once you’re ready with the camera aimed and your finger on the shutter, call for your dog’s attention. Click the shutter the second they look in your direction and you’ll be able to capture them with their full attention on you and your camera.
Once you have their attention, you may be able to capture a couple of easy shots of them sitting still. Be careful not to make any sudden movements as this will most likely make them jump up and follow you. Move slowly and avoid making eye contact as you change positions or reach out for a prop.
Pay your Dog
Don’t forget to pay your model! Throughout the shoot, offer him something that he really likes to keep him motivated and to encourage him to cooperate. Treats can even serve as bait, props, or tools that can help warm up your dog for the camera. Use rewards to make the shoot more fun and enjoyable, as it should be!
So you feel you’ve taken the perfect dog portrait? Then why not have it made into a beautiful painting that will stand as a treasured lasting tribute to the special relationship you have with your dog? Log in to getpetportrait.com to know more about pet portraits.