Maria's Pet Photography Tips: Part 3 - Dogs

Hello, dog lovers! You thought we forgot about you? Cats may rule the internet for now, but we all know that dogs are still man’s best friend and will continue to be that until we learn how to tame more intelligent and aesthetically pleasing creatures.

Photo courtesy of Winnie Au

SOME GENERAL FACTS ABOUT DOGS

Good news! Dogs are wonderful subjects to shoot, indoors and outdoors. They have strong personalities and a deep understanding of human nature, especially when it comes to their owners. They’re active and playful, so you’ll get plenty of action shots, but they can also stand still if you tell them to (all dogs answer basic commands, and if you’re working with a fully trained dog consider yourself extra lucky). Besides, dogs are so cheerful they’ll automatically boost your mood!

WHERE DO WE START?

As I keep saying, get to know the pet. Learn about their personality by talking to the owner and spending some time with the dog. If you’re shooting outside the dog’s home, ask the owner to bring the pet’s favorite toys and some treats as rewards for good behavior.
I recommend going to a park or someplace the dog can run freely. However, if the pet is rather shy and indoorsy, it is better to stay at their home or go someplace familiar where they feel safe.

 Photo courtesy of Mark Sanders

Photo courtesy of Winnie Au

WHAT ARE YOU SHOOTING FOR?

 Remember our talk about cat photography? The rules are still standing. The final purpose of the picture fully influences your shooting style. If the owner just wants some nice photos of their dog, you're free to be as creative as you wish (well, of course, assuming you respect the owner's ideas), but if you're working with a show dog, then you've got to follow a few rules.

Show dogs have been specifically trained and groomed to answer specific commands and have a certain look. Photographs of show dogs should be clean, minimalistic, with all the attention focused on the dog. You will need to take full body shots and more detailed portraits that focus on various parts of their body (tail, legs, ears). Always make sure the eyes are sharp and luminous and pay special attention in the post-processing stage in order to clean up the pet's fur and remove any distractions.

A regular dog photo may look like this:

Photo courtesy of Virginia Bailey

But when it comes to show dogs, your pictures should look more like these:

Photo courtesy of Charlie the Cheeky Monkey Photo courtesy of Devilstar

Photo courtesy of Charlie the Cheeky Monkey

Catch The Emotion & Be creative!

Ultimately, it all comes down to being great at capturing the dog's personality, as playful or as lazy as it is. And if your dog isn't feeling very expressive at that moment, talk to them! You'll instantly grab their attention and you can even influence their reactions by changing your tone. 

Photo courtesy of Li Ward Photo courtesy of Zoo Studio Photo courtesy of Carli Davidson Photo courtesy of Traer Scott Photo courtesy of Virginia Bailey