“Say cheese!” Leaving dogs in the right light on command and photographing them from their best side is not so easy. How you can motivate your dog for a photo shoot and what professional tips you should take to heart for a successful photo, we tell you here. This article is about: 10 tips for perfect dog pictures.
Why are dog photos so popular?
Dogs have a permanent place in the life of their human owner. This also applies to the spot on the photo wall. After all, people like to capture our loved ones with the camera to keep a memory, enjoy it for a long time, and share it with friends and other family members.
No wonder dogs and cats are among the most favorite reasons for a photo after their own children. Dogs, just like small children, often find something more interesting than sitting still and hoping for a nice self-portrait.
And before the photographer can take the photo behind the lens, the dog is already done with it and the beautiful photo moment is gone.
What do I need to take beautiful dog pictures?
To make perfect dog pictures of your beloved four-legged friend you need patience. However, the patience of the most patient people can run out even if the dog continues to move, the photos are blurry, there is too little light, or if the printed photo only shows the dog’s tail.
In addition, the camera can fail at the moment supreme and the memory is full. But… before you leave the camera in the closet again, irritated, read the following 10 professional tips.
Because to make a perfect dog photo you don’t have to be a learned photographer, nor buy expensive photo material. If you know the following tips about the right preparation, the right camera settings, the right lighting conditions, and the best sizes and perspectives,
Tip 1: Good preparation
When we see how the dog hunts vigorously through the fields, his coat is majestically lighted by the sun or his typical, begging dog eyes put on, we prefer to capture these moments directly with the camera.
To ensure that this works in the future, it is important to prepare a little for your new ‘hobby’. Because those who first have to find out how the camera turns on at all or how the correct mode is set or how the exposure can be optimized will miss the best moments.
Whether you are shooting with an SLR, with a small compact camera or with your smartphone: it is important that you are familiar with the basic operations of your device. The most expensive and best cameras don’t add anything if the photographer can’t deal with them.
If you do not only want to photograph with the camera of your phone, but prefer to use a compact or SLR camera, you should at least know how to set the automatic camera settings, such as portrait mode, sports mode or burst function.
Those who want to go a little further should take a closer look at technical terms such as shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, and aperture. What sounds complicated at first is not that difficult after a little practice.
Even when you have a smartphone at your disposal, it pays to look a little more at the features of your phone’s integrated camera. If these are too limited in your opinion, there are now many apps that broaden the possibilities of photography.
Tip 2: Choice of location and situation
At least as important as the basic knowledge of the camera control is to see in advance how and where you would like to take your dog in the perfect dog pictures. If you want to improve your photography skills, you should also do planned photo shoots with your dog.
You can try out different perspectives and formats in peace. In the beginning, a closed place is best, where you and your dog are not disturbed by cars, motorbikes or other dogs and people. A large, quiet moor, a field in nature or the bank by a river are good for later photos.
Because, even if your dog is the center of attention as a model, ‘that which is behind it’ is decisive. A restless background with cars, people, an ugly building or high voltage cables can ruin every beautiful photo of your dog.
Those who prefer to photograph their dog at home should, if possible, into your own garden and photograph the dog in front of green bushes. Taking pictures of dogs in the house is often more difficult due to the amount of light and therefore requires a bit more practice.
Tip 3: Motivation help and the right time for your dog
You have found the perfect location for your first dog photo shoot, may have driven out of town for a few miles and then your dog will fail? That situation is not inconceivable, because which dog wants to have beautiful pictures taken of him?
It’s much more exciting to sniff around the area, run across the field or go after a hare. Anyone who has a dog that knows the basic commands such as sit, here, or place has, of course, an advantage.
However, the look of your dog betrays in the photos afterward that he would rather have done something different and listened to ‘sit’ against his will. To avoid that facial expression, you should pay attention to the following points:
- Let your dog do his needs before the shoot and allow him to breathe a bit (of course not too much, because he should not be panting in the picture), so that the basic need for movement is satisfied and he with the necessary concentration and curiosity can work with your project.
- Give your dog a break immediately after eating to be able to digest it in peace and sleep. Move the planned photo opportunity to a later time, if that’s more convenient.
- In general, if your dog is a physically and mentally busy owner and knows that you take his needs seriously and provide enough variety, he will be willing to work with you and behave.
- To ensure that your dog still enjoys the joint photo activity after the tenth photo, you can bring some treats or the favorite toys. If your dog realizes that he is being rewarded with treats or his favorite game if he cooperates properly, he will probably pose for the camera with even more enthusiasm.
- Stop the shoot as soon as you notice that your dog no longer likes it or is overloaded. Thoroughly reward him again and give him a treat because he worked so well up to that point. Then he will look forward to it again next time, as soon as you grab a camera.
Tip 4: Lots of light for beautiful dog pictures
The correct exposure is most important in photography. Many photos fail because there is too little light. For beginners, it is advisable to take the perfect dog pictures outside in the open air. This also has a more beautiful and natural effect on later photos than photos taken at home.
The sunlight outside not only gives color to nature, but it also lights up your dog’s coat. Usually, the photos are also sharper, even when your dog is moving, because the natural sunlight allows a fast shutter speed.
But be careful: try to avoid too much sunlight, for example in full sun in the afternoon in the summer. That is not only too hot for your furry four-legged friend but also too much for most cameras. The colors in the photos often become lifeless and the extreme light creates ugly shadows.
The best time to take a photo in the open light is therefore early in the morning or in the evening when the light softens and the proportion of red light creates warm colors and soft shadows.
Of course, photos with a cloudy sky, fog or storm clouds are also very interesting. The darker the sky or the surrounding area (including photos in a shady forest), the more light the camera should be able to pick up when shooting.
In this case, if you are shooting with a compact camera or an SLR, you should try to increase the slumber time (for example 1/320), increase the aperture (for example 2.8) or set the ISO value high. If you’re not sure, simply try different settings. With a little practice, you will quickly discover in which mode you take the best dog pictures.
Tip 5: Sharp eyes, blurred background
Dogs have an irresistible look and we would like to see them in the perfect dog pictures. That is why it is important for portraits that the eyes are sharp. The light reflection in the eyes must also be visible. The dog’s gaze can, therefore, best be focused on the light source.
For portrait photos, take the photo as close as possible and focus on the camera lens on the eyes of your dog. The beautiful head and look of your dog are even better when the background is blurred.
Professionals set the aperture to the lowest possible setting (mode A or AV). At a value between f2.8 or f3.2, the aperture is opened wide and the depth of field is therefore less. The background will then disappear, while your dog is sharp in the foreground.
For those who do not want to get started with manual photography, but want to take beautiful portrait photos of their dog, the portrait mode is recommended. It is easy to set on many digital cameras (usually the portrait mode is characterized by the symbol of a head).
Some smartphones can also handle portrait mode with a blurred background. If your smartphone does not have this function, you can download apps to blur the background. You can also blur the background with an editor or afterward with an app.
Tip 6: The animal at eye level
If you don’t have a Great Dane at home, you’re probably bigger than your four-legged friend. If you stand when you take a picture of your dog, you automatically have dog pictures from above, so from a bird’s eye view.
However, this perspective is not recommended for animal photos, because good animal photos require the perspective of the animal itself. After all, in the photo, it is about the dog and so you will have to be at the eye level of the dog. For this, you can sit, crouch or position the dog a little higher, for example by placing it on a tree stump.
Your dog’s proportions are hardly distorted if you fix it horizontally. With small dogs, such as a Chihuahua, you can of course also try frog perspective, where you lie on the floor with the camera and photograph your small dog from below. Then it looks bigger on photos.
Tip 7: Successful portrait dog pictures
Get up close, at eye level, and focus your dog’s gaze while blurring the background. These points described in tips 5 and 6 are very important in portrait photography.
A low depth of field through a wide-open aperture (= low aperture number) is a popular effect in portrait photography because it emphasizes what is modeled even more.
Corresponding manual settings (e.g. aperture number F1.8) or portrait mode contribute to this. In principle, the eyes, ears, and nose in dog photos should be sharp. Everything else may be out of focus.
The portrait photos in which the dog looks directly into the camera and the confidential view is received from the front are real eye-catchers. That is, of course, easier said than done, because the curious four-legged friends often look at everything except the camera.
But there are a few tricks that can get your dog’s attention. If your dog has a good basic education this can, of course, be done by commands, but it is also not always certain whether your dog will immediately sit or stay.
Snacks can help make your dog look into the camera, but many dogs like to run towards the camera and of course, you want to avoid that. Sounds that the dog does not yet know work better to attract attention.
This can be, for example, unknown animal sounds that you imitate or play via the smartphone. If your dog hears those sounds, it is likely to be looking where the sound is coming from. Then it is still important to take a photo at the right time.
But even if the dog does not look directly at the camera, you can take successful portrait photos. Especially the side of the dog’s head is a noble and interesting image.
However, you should make sure that there is a certain distance between your dog’s eyes and the edge of the photo. The area where the dog is looking to the brim should always be larger than on the other side of the eyes.
You should not place your dog exactly in the middle anyway. Photos are more interesting when the subject in the foreground is placed a little more to the side.
To do this, you can create nine equally large areas using two horizontal and two vertical lines (some cameras also indicate these lines on the display). In dog photos (portrait photos), the face should be somewhere where two lines meet.
Tip 8: Photograph your dog in action
Dog photos in which your dog runs or jumps are very dynamic. If you manage to take perfect dog pictures of your dog’s face walking towards you, you will discover your dog’s crazy pelvis that you would normally have missed.
However, photographing and focusing dogs in motion is not so easy, as we know. The contours are quickly out of focus, the photo is blurred or the decisive moment, like a jump photo in which the dog comes off the ground with all its legs, is already over.
To capture fast movements very precisely, it is important to keep the shutter speed as short as possible. Since the camera needs a moment in normal mode to catch the ambient light, focus and capture the image, it reacts immediately at a high aperture number (between f3.2 and f4.5).
It is a problem that there is therefore little time left to let light into the camera. To counter that problem, you probably have to adjust the ISO value of your camera. It sometimes takes some time and practice to find the correct aperture to ISO ratio and capture optimal moving images.
Fortunately, most digital cameras and smartphones today have shooting modes that make shooting moving images easier. For example, you can use the sports mode and burst.
When your dog runs or plays through a field or over a dog playground, you can simply keep your camera pointed at it. Even if it takes some time to sort out all the footage afterward, it pays off: if you have so many photos of your dog in action, there is probably one that worked out well.
Tip 9: The right styling for the dog model
We like to look good in perfect dog pictures and that also applies to our animal models. A dog whose coat hangs down unkempt and without shine, who has sleep in his eyes or with food residues in the coat, is not really a beautiful image.
Therefore, before you take a photo, get started with a brush. Clean your dog’s face, remove drool and dirt, and brush the coat. This ensures a special shine for long-haired four-legged friends, which you will see in perfect dog pictures.
Pay attention to the details and think in advance how you want to show your dog: in its natural beauty or perhaps decorated with beautiful accessories? Try out what you like the most and what best suits the dog’s character.
Tip 10: Practice makes perfect
Now you have some tips on how to take perfect dog pictures. However, it may, of course, be the case that it does not work in practice as is theoretically thought.
Don’t give up right away, though: Rome wasn’t built in one day, either. Depending on prior knowledge, talent, camera equipment, and the dog, it usually takes very little time before the desired image quality is achieved.
Do not put too much pressure on your dog or yourself. The most important thing when photographing is that you both enjoy it, you will see that later in the photos.
We hope you enjoy photographing your beloved four-legged friend!