Most pet owners love nothing more than capturing shots of our beloved furballs. No doubt that as you read this, your smartphones and camera SD cards are full of images of your dogs, but are they any good? Taking good quality images of your pets can be difficult, but here at Wagnificent, we have put together a Top 10 guide of tips for successfully capturing the character of your dog.
Possibly the most important aspect of photography is the lighting. Not all of us have the space for a home studio, but if you do it’s actually not that expensive to set up if photography is a hobby you are keen to pursue and develop. Amazon and other sites sell a range of starter packs which include lighting umbrellas, stands, backdrops and reflectors, such as this popular kit here:
If you do not have a space in your house or garage for a home studio, or are just looking to improve your photographs using a smartphone or entry level camera, then you are best off photographing outside on a bright day. It is notoriously difficult to get well lit images indoors, particularly of animals with brown or black coats.
2. SHARP IMAGES
The thing about pet photography is the subjects tend to always be moving! In order to ensure your images are sharp and you are not contributing to any movement in the shot, consider your body position. Either use a tripod, or try leaning against something, such as a tree or wall to ensure you and the camera do not move.
There are a range of small compact and very flexible tripods called Joby GorillaPod’s. There are fixings available for either smartphones or standard camera screw fittings. Not only can they be used as standard tripods, but they can also wrap around things to ensure a sharp shot.
3. DOG TRAINING
When you first start to take photographs of your pet, you will realise the importance of puppy training! Instilling a good ‘sit stay’ in your puppy, will make your life as a doting pet owner and photographer SO much easier. Remember to reward them for their patience whilst you try to catch the ultimate shot! All dogs need to be mentally stimulated as well as physically exercised, so investing your time and cash into some positive, reward based training will stand you in excellent stead and likely fill your social media streams with awesome pics!
4. BE CALM AND SHHHHHH!
In order to get your dogs undivided attention try finding a quiet place to photograph them, so they can clearly hear your commands and not get too distracted. Try to remain calm and relaxed. It can be frustrating when you are trying to get the ultimate shot and your four legged friend decides to move at exactly the wrong time! They will pick up on any an anxiety or frustration, so try to remain relaxed and if they are too busy checking out new sniffs to sit for a particular shot, be patient or consider trying some more natural shots of them.
5. BACKGROUNDS MATTER (AND FOREGROUNDS TOO!)
We all know our dogs are ridiculously cute and are the star of any photograph, but make sure you spend a moment to consider the background. Buying semi professional backdrops can be quite inexpensive. You would simply need a couple of stands and a roll of wipeable paper or vinyl backdrop such as this inexpensive set on Amazon.
So many amazing pet photographs are ruined by busy backgrounds, or indeed foregrounds. If you are looking to take quality photographs on a budget, whilst out on walks for example, try to ensure the background is clear and unmessy. Try to find clear backgrounds, free from people and objects.
6. CONSIDER ANGLES AND POSITIONING
Generally speaking dogs are quite low to the ground, so experiment with different angles. Most amateur photographs of pets, tend to be of the photographer aiming down at the dog, but mix it up a little and consider getting down on their level and see the world from their point of view.
If you have a large dog you may need to position your camera at stomach height, but for smaller dog such as a Terrier or Chihuahua, you may need to get your knees muddy to see things from their level. Be prepared and maybe carry a small foam gardening mat, or in case of emergency open out a doggy poo bag to save your clothes from a getting caked.
7. FOCUS AND COMPOSITION
Try to think not only of the background and foreground, but also of the composition of the shot. If your dog is in a sit position, or jumping up, would the image be better as a portrait image opposed to landscape? If your pet is in a ridiculously cute pose laying down then maybe try landscape instead. Try to adapt to the conditions your dog presents you with. Don’t be afraid to get up close and personal too and zoom in on expressive eyes or ears if need be. If you decide to shoot a little video footage on your smartphone, remember to ALWAYS video in landscape!
Portrait video’s look like this when they are played back:
In landscape you will get the full wide angle experience, without losing half the frame with the black side bars:
8. FLASH OFF!
Many of us tend to snap our pets on our telephones. Smartphone cameras have come on incredibly in the last couple of years and some of the high end gadgets can take some very nice images. When using a smartphone it is important to refer back to our number one tip, lighting!
Always try to turn your flash off when taking photographs on a smartphone. Though you risk having the occasional ‘blurry’ image as the shutter is open for longer to get enough light in, it would be well worth it because natural light is always preferable.
9. REWARD YOUR PETS PATIENCE
It is important to always look after the star of the show!
Make sure you reward your ‘model’ accordingly. A supply of good treats will be invaluable for negotiating co-operation with your four legged friend! Check out our range of Wagnificent recipes for some inspiration.
10. MAKE IT FUN!
Getting your pet used to the camera is of course important, but making it fun is vital! Try using their favourite toys as props, if you make it super fun for your pets you will reap the photographic rewards.
If you have found this article useful and manage to snap some photographs to be proud of, please share them with us on social media, we would love to see them and look out for our popular photo contests to see if you can win prizes for you and your pooch!
The Wagnificent Team
Photo Credit: Vicky Bright Photography