Last week I dove into an interesting and whimsical topic – do dogs actually watch TV? This week I feel like I should keep that lighthearted tone going. It’s such a busy time of year and many people are stressed, especially pet parents. Why not liven up the mood in your home by taking some family selfies. Of course, it wouldn’t be a true family photo without your furry companion, but it can be so hard to get Fido to sit still for a picture. That’s why I want to take this opportunity to talk about how to take great photos of your dog.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably tried to photograph your dog hundreds of times. You’ll see a cute photo in a magazine or online and think, “Hey, I bet my Fido could do that!” But it never fails…each time you try, your picture looks nothing like the example you’re shooting for.
No worries. You’re not alone. Most parents struggle with the same problem. Of course, you do need to remember that most of the photos you see in print and online have been taken by a well-trained professional photographer with a state-of-the-art camera.
You probably don’t have any photography training, and you probably don’t have the best photography equipment available. That’s okay. You can still learn how to take great photos of your dog with the resources that you have. Following these tips and tricks will increase your chances of capturing the perfect shot of our canine companion.
How to Take Great Photos of Your Dog
Whether you’re trying to get a handsome portrait or a hilarious action shot, there are ways of taking photographs of your pet that will give you a flawless professional picture.
The quality of your photo will ultimately depend on the quality of your camera, but if you’re looking to reduce your chances of taking blurry pictures or pictures that make your dog’s eyes look like Christmas lights, I can help.
Timing is everything. Trying to get your dog to sit still for a family portrait probably isn’t a good idea first thing in the morning or just after he wakes up from a long nap. If you want your dog to be calm in a photograph, make sure you give him time to burn off any extra energy beforehand with a long walk or game of fetch.
Likewise, if you’re trying to get an action shot of your two dogs wrestling or you want to get a great picture of Fido playing tug-of-war, you need to attempt the photo shoot when he’s got plenty of energy to spare. It’s probably going to take you a few shots to get it right, so don’t try to make him play fetch when you’ve just returned home from the dog park.
Maybe your dog is spooked by the camera. Flashing lights and clicking noises may give your dog anxiety or cause him to become excited. Let your dog get used to the camera before you begin trying to take his photo. Allow him to sniff the camera until he is satisfied and then spend some time taking photos of the scenery around you. This will give your dog time to get used to the light and the noise before you point the camera at him.
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Most amateur photographers, like myself and probably most of you reading this, take better looking photos in natural sunlight. If it’s possible, take your pet outside for his photo shoot. It’ll be much easier to get a professional looking picture if you don’t have to try to get the lighting for your shot just right.
You’ll also want to pay special attention to the background of your photo. You don’t want to choose a background that is the same color or similar in color to your dog’s coat. He will blend in with the background and your photo will looked washed out.
Also, pay attention to what the background looks like around your pet. Is there a tree branch sticking out of his head that makes it look like he has horns? Is there anything in front of or next to him that makes the photo look awkward?
While you’re thinking about the background of the photo, there is one thing that I should also mention – take LOTS of pictures. It’s simple logic that the more pictures that you take, the more chances you have of getting a great shot. Maybe a branch looks funny in one picture but as you move around and shoot from different angles you end up with a perfect photograph.
Speaking of angles, make sure you take photos from many different angles. If you take all your photos from your own perspective (standing up and looking down at your pet) you probably aren’t going to get any spectacular shots. Your photos will look like every other photo that anyone takes of their pet.
Get down on your dog’s level. Try climbing a ladder or standing on a balcony. What if you lie on the ground and your dog looks down at you? Learning how to take a great photo of your dog is all about trial and error. Experiment with different angles and try to find a unique and creative approach to the photo that you want to take.
Simple props can add a lot of quality to your photos too. Grab some colorful blankets, a handful of dog toys or even some clothes and accessories if your pet will let you dress him up. Use the props to express your dog’s personality, style and preferences.
If your dog loves to play in the mud, let him get dirty. If he always sleeps with the same blanket, use it as a background. Years from now when you look back on these photos and the wonderful memories you have of your pet, you probably won’t be thinking about the perfect angel that sat so nicely for family photos.
You’ll be thinking about the mischievous canine that always had you laughing or your laid back mellow buddy that enjoyed wearing hats and sunglasses. The photos that you take of your pet should reflect his true personality, so that you can look back on them and smile years down the road.
My last tip may just be the one that is going to help you out the most. Enlist the help of a friend or family member. If you’ve got an active dog or a pet with a short attention span, it’s going to be a huge benefit to have a helper on standby. They can squeak a toy to get your dog’s attention when he looks away from the camera or simple help you wrangle an unruly dog.
Now it’s your turn
Do you have any tips and tricks to share? Any advice on how to take great photos of your dog? We’d love to hear them, so leave a comment below or find us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. We’d love to see your pictures as well, so feel free to share any great shots you’ve taken of your dogs!