A FEW THINGS WE HAVE LEARNT ...
If you, like us, have ever tried to take a good picture of your dog, you’ll know it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do. If you’re trying to capture a lovely portrait of them, they inevitably look away at the critical moment, or if they are on the move, the go past in a blur before you have had a chance even to click. We’re not experts in photography by any means, but we do take hundreds of photos and videos of dogs so we can let their owners know they are OK, some of these turn out great – many of them not. Here are a few of the things we have learnt along the way:
KNOW YOUR DOG
Think about the kind of image you are trying to capture – you want something that shows off the individual personality of your dog so you can have the picture as a treasured memory. Is your dog lazy and likes to nap on the couch or is he more likely to be found paddling in a stream or barking at a tree trying to get a squirrel? It’s good to know the kind of image you’re looking for so you can plan your shoot in advance. Also, think about your dog’s psychical attributes, do they have big brown eyes, floppy ears or a particularly fluffy tail? And which of those do you want to capture?
PLAN YOUR SHOTS
Once you have the details above you can make a list of the types of shots you’re hoping to capture. If your dog loves playing with a Kong, then you might want a photo of him with one in his mouth, or for an older, lazy dog, maybe him upside down fast asleep in his bed is more appropriate. Think about the location, if your dog is happiest plodding through a stream think about the most straightforward and most accessible place to make that happen – and get your wellies on! Or indoors, you can still get some fantastic shots, mainly as your pet is likely to be relaxed but the lighting conditions may not be as favourable as they are outside. You don’t need to be too detailed, but you do want to be able to try and set up the scene slightly so you can have the right settings on your phone or camera ready to capture the moment. You will have to be a little flexible as our canine companions can be somewhat unpredictable!
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
Wherever you choose as the location for your pet photo session, try and think about lighting, it really is the most important element of any photography. It’s easier for pretty much any shot to have natural lighting. Natural light tends to give much sharper and clearer images. It is therefore usually easier to get better shots if you’re outside, especially if you are using the camera on your phone so you’re not able to change many of the settings (although there is an app called camera+ that's free, it allows you to adjust settings like shutter speed which helps to stop photos looking so blurred, particularly with movement, like dogs!) Outside doesn’t have to mean a public place, it’s better to be wherever your dog feels most comfortable so they can be themselves and you can capture it on camera. On a lovely bright day at any time of year, you can get some beautiful snaps of your dog in your garden. Things to think about, try to avoid direct sunlight, it’s a pain any way you try to deal with it. It’s the same for any extreme weather conditions that will either cause you and your dog to get soaked or blown over. If you’re taking photos indoors, try and stay near a source of natural light, so near windows or doors and choose a time of day when there will be the most light. As much as possible try and avoid relying on artificial light, although you can capture a good moment, the quality of the overall result will not be as good. You can get great shots any time of year, the Winter snow always looks fresh, Summer scenes usually involve the pups playing in the water, and you can’t beat the warm colours of Autumn or the bluebells of Spring. CAPTURING THE SHOT
The ideal way to capture your dog is to get down to their eye level, that means, if you’re the proud owner of a Yorkshire Terrier, you ideally need to be lying on the ground! If you’re looking for a portrait type shot, make sure you have taught your dog a couple of cue’s before you head out. The most obvious ones are “sit” and/or “wait” – if you’re combining this with more of an action shot it will be useful if your dog also has good recall, so you can call them over when you’re ready or send them away if you’re trying to capture a horizon type image. Some of our favourite shots are the ones where you see life more through the eyes of your dog. To unsuspecting people, this may look like a photo of your dog’s bottom, but to us dog people, it is clearly showing the world from their perspective! To make any of this happen, make sure you have plenty of treats at your disposal – models don’t work for free you know!
And it may seem obvious, but wear old, comfortable clothes (you may end up lying in the grass, wading through a stream or knee-deep in mud to get the ideal shot!) but most of all, have fun. Every moment with your dog should be fun for both you and them, capturing photos is no different and let’s be honest, even a bad picture of your dog is better than no photo at all!