"The journey of life is sweeter when traveled with a dog" - Unknown
As far as I’m concerned, you can never have too many pictures of your kids or your dog! I’ve recently had an influx of people bringing dogs to their portrait session and I’m simply loving it. Dogs are members of the family and photos of them hold precious memories of our time with them. I’ve learned some great tricks over the years to capture a dog’s personality and all the love and joy they bring to our lives.
Here are my best tips for photographing your dog and capturing all the things you love about with them.
- Get down to their level. Photographing your dog is not only an exercise in training but also good exercise for you. Move around to find the best angle to photograph them. Don’t just stand above your dog, get down to her eye level by sitting, kneeling, or lying on the floor. Capturing the world the way they see it (down low) is wonderful perspective. Don’t forget to include the feet, shoes, and legs of those standing nearby for added perspective and to show their size.
- Capture your dog doing what they naturally do alone or with your children or family. Does your son and dog love looking out the window together, sitting beside you in the car, chewing a bone by the fireplace? Find their happy place and take the photo there. Even better if you can effortlessly photograph them sleeping or snuggled up and resting in their a favorite spot.
- Make a high-pitched squeak noise or meow like a cat. Making different sounds will get your dog to do that precious head tilt to figure out what they are hearing. Don’t call them, they will come to you!
- Consider the individual parts of your dog that you love. Search for interesting angles of your dog’s details. Zoom in to capture just his wet nose, curly tail, or expressive eyes. Check your camera to see if there is a macro/micro setting that will allow your camera to focus when shooting this close to your dog. If your camera will not focus in as tight as you’d like, back up, get the shot, and crop the final image to have a memory of that favorite doggy detai
- Like all authentic and expressive photography, capturing the right moment also relies on timing. Pushing that camera button at the right second is critical. If your camera has a long delay, this can be a problem. You may be pressing the shutter at the right second, but the image captured will be after that perfect moment. Check your camera’s manual to see if the shutter speed can be set independently. If so, set it to the speed of 125th of a second or higher. Otherwise, set your camera to shoot in the sports mode, perfect for fast-moving objects (like your dog!).
- The most important advice is to always have fun! If you’re having a good time, your dog will too, and your pictures will capture that happiness.
I love when families can bring their dog to the session. They can add so much energy and loving memories to your portraits. So if you are wondering what I think, I say YES! Bring your pup. I know not every family shares the same relationship with their pet or has the patience to photograph their pet and kiddos at the same time, but if your dog is well disciplined and you know what you can expect from them, I say go for it. (That’s to also say it most likely depends on the temperament of both your family and your pet- you know them best)!
If you would like to include your dog in your family portrait session some helpful ways to prepare include:
- Bring treats- everyone likes to be rewarded for all their patience on photo day even the dogs.
- Wear them out first – exercise them before you arrive on picture day. A tired dog is a good dog.
- Practice some stay commands before picture day. Practice and persistence just like everything else works wonders.
- Don’t have expectations of a photo of everyone including your dog looking formally at the camera. Adding a pet is the same as adding another person. They are just as likely, or not, to corporate just like any younger child. I have the persistence to keep shooting but expect it may take a while longer or just being accepting of having a bit of that real life chaos in the final portraits.
- Plan on having each (adult) person continually photo ready and let me snap until I can get the dogs attention while you simply focus on yourself. (pssst… This is what I recommend when I’m photographing a crowd of people with young children too! Adults take care of themselves and I’ve got everything else. Just keep smiling and it’s all good.)
Hey, If you have a dog loving friend please pass the smarts and share this blog with them so they can have some great photos of their pup too.