For many people, dogs are like members of the family. And while that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea to take the family dog out to eat at a restaurant, neither does mean people shouldn’t occasionally splurge on their pets. One great expense that can provide a lifetime of pet memories is having the animal professionally photographed.
Pet photography is a growing industry, but it isn’t merely about setting up a camera in front of a dog and snapping photos indiscriminately. There is a very subtle art to taking great-quality pet photos, and it is based in locating the true personality of the animal and coaxing it out. So for those photographers who want to build up their portfolios, here are some quick tips to taking amazing animal photos – dogs, specifically.
GET TO KNOW THE SUBJECT
This is of paramount importance in pet photography, especially when it comes to dogs. Just as the standard portrait photographer needs to get a sense of who his or her human subject is, so too does the dog photographer. That’s why it’s vital to ask as many questions of the owner as possible. What makes the dog unique? What are its favorite things to do? Where does it like to be scratched? These are all relevant questions, and they will help the photographer get to know the animal. Armed with this information the photographer may then be able to get the dog to perform actions specific to its unique personality, which will be perfect for pictures.
BEFRIEND THE DOG
It’s not enough to get relevant facts about the animal, the photographer should befriend his subject as well. This may prove difficult with the limited time a photo session provides but it’s not impossible. Spending a few minutes tossing a ball or stick around with the dog is a great way to establish an initial trust that will make the photographer’s job that much easier when it comes time to snap the pictures.
GRADUALLY INTRODUCE THE EQUIPMENT
After establishing a certain level of trust, it’s time to show the dog the camera. Some dogs may find the camera intimidating, so it’s important to show it to the dog and let him get used to it, even if that means sniffing around the camera. A good amount of dogs get nervous when the photographer raises the camera to their face before shooting. If the dog can’t get past a camera near the photographer’s face, then one option is using a longer lens in order to shoot the subject from farther away. Another options is to set an aperture and get down to the dog’s level and take some photos. Shooting at a dog’s eye level will likely make the animal more comfortable and there are some unique and great shots that can be had from that particular angle.
SHOOT IN A COMFORTABLE ENVIRONMENT
Finding out the type of environment where the dog is most comfortable should be done during the initial process of getting to know the animal and finding out info from the owner. Maybe the dog is happiest at the beach? Perhaps it can’t get enough of the park? Either way, putting the dog in its favorite locale will bring out the best in the subject.
KNOW HOW TO GET THE ANIMAL’S ATTENTION
This is easier said than done, but if the photographer can get a dog’s attention it will make the whole process that much easier. After all, there’s nothing worse than chasing a scatterbrained animal around with a camera, trying to get them to stay still and concentrate. The owner can provide information regarding various trigger words the animal responds to, but one trick involves making unusual noises, such as tongue-clicking or snapping sounds. The dog will likely find these sounds curious and give the photographer its undivided attention – for a second or two at least.
These are just a few tips to taking great photographs of dogs. By adhering to these methods, the photographer increases the chances of truly capturing the dog’s individual personality in the photos. And this is something the dog’s owner can cherish for a lifetime.
Ken McDonald is a photography enthusiast who loves everything about cameras. In his spare time he reviews different digital video cameras and blogs about photography.