Photography is another passion of mine, so I thought I would digress and mention a few sources that might be of interest to others.
I have a real passion for photography (not that I’m necessarily very talented at it) so I do have some semi-professional gear, but even if you don’t there are some simple things you can do to take better photos of you dog. I might post a more technical post at some point about what works for me, but I’m going to keep it pretty general here.
A few things I have found that work for me:
- Photograph outside – while I certainly do photograph my dog inside the house, the lighting outside generally makes for better photographs. This holds especially true if you do not have more professional/hobby enthusiast gear. If you are going to photograph inside, try shooting near a window and use the natural light from the window to your advantage. Indoor light often causes poor colour, grainy images, or motion blur. Below: a comparison of inside (left) to outside (right)
- Shoot low – to get a unique “dog’s view” of the world try shooting low, down at their level. Take the shot while sitting, kneeling, or laying on your stomach. Often I’ll put the camera on the ground and use the live screen to aim.
- Shoot fast – If your camera has the ability to set shutter speed use a speed above 1/1000th of a second if possible. If you don’t, try using a sport mode if your camera has one.
- Panning – If you can’t get a fast shutter speed try panning the camera and following your dog’s action while taking the photo. It can be tricky to perfect – expect a lot of out takes – but you can get some neat shots with focused body or head, and legs blurring from the motion. If you can adjust the shutter speed I’d start around 1/500th of a second and adjust from there. The shot below was a little too slow, causing too much motion blur in the head and body for my liking. The great benefit to this technique if you are using a point-and-shoot camera or smartphone is it can give you some great action shots even if you can’t get a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action. This can also work great at indoor events like agility or flyball.
- Details – Don’t forget to shoot the details! Your dog’s paw, tail, nose, eyes, and facial expressions – close ups of whatever makes your dog unique!
- Reward your Dog! – If you love taking photos of your dog and want a willing model, make sure you make it fun for them! This could be giving them treats occasionally during the session, giving them a new toy to play with while you take the shots, or just photograph while they are doing something they love.
I hope that gives you a few ideas to try when next photographing your dog. I’ve added a few photography links on my resource page; but if you are interested in learning more, or would like some more technical information here are some resources I have found very helpful:
For someone who would really like to pick up pet photography as a hobby I would highly recommend starting with Charlotte Reeves e-book Fetching Photos. This goes through camera settings, troubleshooting, how to run a photography session with a (your) dog, and some different ideas you can try. If you are more interested in some different shot ideas her book Dog Shots gives a tonne of excellent ideas and how to set them up.
Next I would highly recommend Kaylee Greer’s photography course The Secrets to Capturing The Best. Dog. Photos. Ever. Taken. at Kelbyone. Kelbyone has a free 10 day trial so you could watch this video for free and Kaylee’s other courses on Kelbyone. I would start with the Secrets course as it runs through the basics and gives you some suggestions for troubleshooting sessions. On top of all the excellent advice, it is nice to see a video of how it all works in real life; being able to see that the dog doesn’t have to act “perfect” to get great photos.
Many of the resources put out by these two are aimed more to professional pet photographers or hobbyists; but if you use a point-and-shoot camera or smartphone their information on setting up the session, different shot ideas, and information on angles to shoot from is very informative and I think you would find helpful. If you are shooting primarily from a smartphone Holly Montgomery of Brindleberry Pet Photography has this excellent post you might find helpful, including some “post-processing” editing advice.