I’m sharing 7 tips for better dog photos today. Mom is never 100% happy with our photos, but so many people are amazed by how my sisters and I model for the camera. I think we must be doing things right, no matter what Mom says. I’m not a real photographer, just a hobby photographer, but let me share some tips to help you improve your own dog photos. We learn by doing, and it has worked pretty well so far.
7 Tips For Better Dog Photos
1. What are your goals?
What are your goals in photographing your dog. Are you doing it for fun, for social media, do you want others to admire your photos, are you interested in photo quality? By determining your goals, it will help you decide how much money and time you should invest on photography. If you aren’t picky and don’t want to invest in a camera, then you will have to be happy with what your phone can do. For us, phone photos simply lack the quality we prefer, but we do snap phone photos now and then.
2. Get the right equipment!
My photographer has loved taking photos of pets since she was a little girl. The invention of digital cameras has been a life changer for her since there is no film, and no developing. Photography is a real hobby, and a big part of my blogging empire, which is why we elected to ditch the point and shoot camera, and purchase a DSLR in 2011. In 2015, we upgraded to an even better DSLR because for us, it is a good investment. My photographer also has several lenses she can use for different types of photos. It is important for us to have good photos for not only our friends and fans, but brands we work with. No brand wants to work with a dog who has lousy photos of their product!
3. Learn to use your camera!
When we purchased our first DSLR, it came with three free classes. My photographer had never even heard of manual mode, so these three classes were a necessity! If you have no desire to learn to use manual mode, why bother spending money on a DSLR? A point and shoot will give you about the same results as a fancy camera in automatic. Because manual mode is tough in the beginning, my photographer started out taking baby steps. She started using some of the settings which allowed her to only set the shutter speed, aperture, or ISO and let the camera do the rest.
With practice, she started to take shots in full manual, but was often disappointed. It took about two years before we were using manual mode exclusively. Some people might figure it out faster, but that was our progression. Now we don’t even know how to turn on automatic mode on our camera. Trust me! If you really want to be a good photographer, you need a nice DSLR, and you need to use manual mode.
Don’t forget to purchase some lenses to help you achieve your photography goals! Learning to use different lenses is a lot of fun, and can really make for some super photos you wouldn’t get from a basic lens.
4. Make sure you have lots of patience!
I’m sure some talented folks out there will get the hang of the camera, and have perfect pets, creating great photos almost immediately, but most of us need lots of practice and patience. In the beginning you may have 90% blurry, lousy, shots, but the percentage will improve with practice. Remember your dog(s) also need to learn to be models and you need to have patience with them as well.
5. Start with one dog!
Most dogs are like young children with ants in their pants. Dogs don’t sit perfectly still and say cheese, they are usually on the move. Save yourself the frustration, and start working on photographing one dog. Once you find your settings, and your dog is starting to understand what is expected, add in a second, then a third, and so on.
I think one of the biggest complaints I hear from people trying to take dog photos is blurry action shots. If you learn to use your camera in manual mode, you will be able to capture clear, crisp action shots without a problem!
6. Forget the flash!
I can’t remember the last time we saw the camera flash! Flash is often a perfect way to ruin a good photo. Yes, for some photos it is a must, but then you need to learn to use a flash properly, which would be a whole separate post. We work with natural light as much as possible. Even taking photographs inside works well with natural light, or enough lights on in the house, if you have the right settings. Say good bye to the red eyes, shadows, and other problems associated with using a flash.
7. Most important – make it fun!
At our house, if we hear photo shoot, we come running. Madison is obsessed! If Mom picks up the camera, Madison follows her around waiting to model. We know it is work, but it is fun, and we are rewarded. Get your dog excited to sit for you. Praise them like crazy when they do a good job. Use treats to direct their focus, and to reward after a good photo session. Modeling is another form of obedience or trick, and is treated as such at our house. We have also learned if we do it right, we are done faster, and get our reward faster too!
Create some commands for your shoots to help your dog. “Hold”is one of our best commands, and we only use it with photos. Our photographer positions us, and gives the “hold” command which means don’t move. We hold position until released. If attention is lacking, she might blurt out “SQUIRREL” to get us to look, but we know not to get up and move, only look.
Cats are a bit more difficult to photograph than dogs, but cat bro Bert does a good job modeling, most of the time in exchange for catnip or treats.
There are so many pieces that go into great dog photos! These seven tips are just the tip of the iceberg, but they will get you thinking, and on the right track.
Good luck, and happy shooting!