Back in the winter I donated a pet portrait session to the Humane Society of Carroll County's auction, and Kathy and her gorgeous pup Cleo were the lucky winners! We wanted to wait until spring to do Cleo's session, and I'm so glad we did! Codorus was the PERFECT location for this shoot, and Cleo got to finish all her hard modeling work with a quick wade in the lake.
To dog-lovers like me, our pups are basically our children, and doesn’t everyone want to document every little part of their child’s life?! Since beginning photographing dogs for the Humane Society of Carroll County, I’ve learned that, like children, dogs are some of the most difficult subjects to photograph. With these tips, you can take better photos of your dog no matter if you have an iPhone or a DSLR.
1. Use what they love
If you’re like me and take a million photos of your dog, your pup might look away as soon as the camera comes out. Or, if you have a high energy dog who is easily distracted, it can feel impossible to get a good photo of them actually looking at the camera. The easiest way to grab their attention for a picture is to find out what they love the most, like a certain kind of treat or a specific toy, and use it to draw their eyes toward the camera, even if its only for a second. Squeaky toys tend to work wonders for dogs who like toys and you’ll get the cutest expression out of them!
2. Let them be themselves
Sometimes the photos we love and cherish the most of our pets are the ones where they are simply being themselves. Instead of trying to get your dog to sit or lay down in an exact spot in a certain way looking at the camera and posed all perfectly, follow your dog around until he settles down and capture him relaxing on the couch, or out in the yard playing with a toy. Working WITH your dog instead of against them will get you a great photo WAY more often.
3. Have an extra hand
If you aren’t lucky enough to have a fenced in area or a dog who can be trusted to not go off exploring on his own, having someone who can hold your dog on the leash so you can get a photo makes things SO much easier. When I’m photographing the dogs at the Humane Society, its nearly impossible to hold the dog AND photograph them at the same time because as soon as I back up to take it, they immediately follow me before I can get any shot at all, let alone a good one!
4. Get creative
If your dog is almost never still and always running, playing, or exploring, sometimes you have to get creative to get that photo! One of my favorite tricks is to have someone throw a ball right past me from across the yard so I can get photos of the dog running right towards me. This usually results in some pretty funny action shots!
5. Make no plans
Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned from photographing shelter dogs is to not make any plans when setting out to take a dog’s photo! If you’re not going with the dog’s flow and you’re getting all frustrated because you can’t get the shot you planned on taking, the dog is going to sense your negative energy and they’re just going to get less and less cooperative. Pretty much every time I have a specific photo in my head that I want to get of my pup, he reminds me that he has different plans :)