General Dog

Photographing your Dog – Taking Great Pictures of Your Dog

So you have been staring at your new 12 Months of Beagles calendar and you’ve come to the conclusion that you’re beagle is much cuter, but you don’t really know how to go about photographing a dog. Getting the perfect shot of your little pooch takes a little know how and lot of a patience but it can be done. Many people have professional photographers take pictures of their pets to be framed and hung in places of honor. You can often get these same shots yourself without having to pay professional photographer fees. Location, camera settings, photo editing software, and most of all, patience will help you get a photo worth hanging on your wall.

Location

Location is very important when considering the reactions of a dog and how those reactions will affect your ability to get a sharp photo. Taking an animal to a place that it has never been before can cause the dog to act in undesirable ways. The dog may become hyper or agitated and make it more difficult for you to get the dog to do what you want.

The best place to go for photographing a dog is outside in your own yard. The dog will be happy to be in a place it is comfortable and will be more likely to follow your commands. Also, the dogs’ own yard is a great way to get shots of the dog doing things it loves such as playing catch with your kids, running around the yard, or even digging up your favorite flowers. Allowing the dog to do what it normally does will make for even better photos and may allow you to get a unique candid image. The type of day should also be considered. The best day for outdoor photography would be days that are overcast. Bright and sunny days can make for harsh shadows which could make your subject unexpectedly dark.

You may also want to take photos of your dog in your home.Shooting inside comes with its own set of problems that must be addressed. Often, the lighting in a home is not bright enough which means you have to use flash. This can be difficult to get around and the red eye produced by flash is much more pronounced with a dog than with a human. You could just keep snapping pictures in the hopes that your photo editing software will take care of it or you could reduce the amount of touch-ups you have to do later by not taking photos with your dog staring directly at the camera.

Have a friend help you by waving toys or using treats to keep the dogs attention on something other than you. This can help reduce red eye but may also let you get in closer and get a focused shot of your pet. A picture of a puppy paw or ear can be very endearing. If you do not have someone to help you, or your puppy won’t calm down for you to get a close up shot, then wait until the puppy falls asleep. One of the best times for photographing a dog is when they are sleeping. Keep your camera handy so you can take as many pictures as you can before the dog wakes up. You never know when the perfect shot will appear in front of you and you don’t want it ruined because you wake the puppy up by rummaging in your bag for your camera. This trick works very well on puppies which are over active when awake yet dead to the world when they are sleeping.

Camera Settings

Camera settings can make or break the pictures you take of your dog. Blurry photos won’t look good framed on your desk and too dark images are frustrating. To reduce the chances of blurry photos use the sports mode on your digital camera. This will allow you to get better shots of your active dog. Some of your favorite shots may be of your dog running around the yard with your children and using the sports mode on your camera will help you get crisp shots.

Using your flash can be essential to getting a good shot. Flash can be crucial, even outside. If you are taking pictures during a sunny day then flash can be your best friend. It will help fill in the dark shadows that the bright sun is causing and reduce the chance that the dog will be in deep shadow while the items around him are clear.

Zoom in on your pet. Filling the viewfinder with your pet can give a personal and intimate touch to a photo of your pet. Get in close on different parts of your dog. Focus just on their face or a part of their face. Props can help make a shot so zoom in on your dog and its favorite stuffed toy.

Photo Editing Software

Photo editing software, while not a cure-all, can help save some of the photos that you may not have thought would be worth it. It is common for an ok image to turn into your favorite photo by the tweaks you can give it. Red eye is a common edit and is a common factor when taking photos of your pet, especially photos taken indoors. Although editing software can get rid of red eye it can sometimes make the eyes look odd which can throw off the whole picture. It is best to try to not have to deal with red eye in the first place.

One of the best ways to turn your dull photograph into framed art is by using the crop tool. A so-so picture of your dog standing in front of a bush can go from dull and ordinary to remarkable and extraordinary by cropping out all of the extra scenery and only focusing on the dog.

These are some basic edits that can be done but other more advanced edits can really add to your photos and you can spend time experimenting with what you think looks best.

Patience

Perhaps the most important trick to photographing a dog is having patience. It could take over one hundred shots before you get the perfect shot and you have to be willing to wait for it. Dogs do not always do what we tell them to do so you have to be prepared that the shot you are looking for just may not happen the day you want it to and you may have to wait for another day.

Dogs can sometimes be frightened of a camera because of the flash and the sounds the camera makes. To help make your dog stay calm when you pull your camera out then let it sniff the camera. If your dog seems overly frightened of the camera it may also help to fire the flash a couple of times in the room with the dog but not directly at it so that the dog gets used to the flash and the noises of the camera. After this you could then use the flash to take photos of your dog from across the room and slowly make your way closer.

Dogs love interaction with their owners. By getting down on the dogs level you can capture this interaction. Lay on the floor or ground to get pictures of your pet. If the dog is on the couch or looking out the window then crouch down. These shots will be much more personal.

Touches like these as well as using your own yard or living room can help you capture a personal portrait of your dog that you may not receive from a professional who does not know your dog. Photographing a dog does not have to be frustrating if you try to follow these simple tips. You may be surprised at the wonderful portrait you create to hang in a place of honor in your home.

Article Supplied By:
M. Kaye Hash, Co-owner and photographer of the nature photography and Eco-friendly gifts website. She is a contributing editor and co-webmaster at www.mccallsfloormart.com. Melissa has a degree in Art History from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has been writing and taking pictures since she was young. Melissa is also an avid animal lover and she raises four dogs of her own.

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