If you own a dog, then you’ve probably tried to photograph your dog. Heck, even if you don’t own a dog, you’ve probably tried to photograph someone else’s. However, though every dog is a good dog, not every picture of a dog is a good picture of a dog. So, if you want to take canine portraiture to the next level, then check out our tips below.
As humans, we’re accustomed to looking down at dogs from above. For photographers, this creates too much distance between the lens and your subject. Get closer! Kneeling down can also help earn trust, especially if the dog you’re photographing isn’t your own. According to dog whisperer Cesar Millan, the best way to approach a dog is to “kneel down next to the dog, facing the same direction. You’re now in the dog’s personal space, but in a non-confrontational way.”
Wide angle lenses are great for capturing doggos in sweeping action shots, but try a macro lens for details. Curly tails and big, expressive eyes deserve their moment to shine! Shooting up close also forces you to find new and interesting angles to explore. If your dog isn’t crazy about camera closeness, then don’t force it. Pull back and crop later.
Whether it’s more humans or more pooches, adding other subjects to the shot can help coax some character out of those sweet doggos. Shooting with people adds context – especially if you include a loving owner. However, adding more dogs is often the most fun (as long as they all get along). You’ll need to find a team of humans to help corral all that joy. Also consider stocking up on memory cards, as photographing a pack of dogs requires a bit of the ‘spray and pray’ approach.
No, it’s not cheating. We’re not all professional dog trainers. If it creates order and joy in an otherwise chaotic dog shoot, then bust out the milk bones. You can even use the Christian Vieler approach and try to snap a shot or two of your pup in mid catch! Or, use peanut butter and get a few quiet snapshots while your dog is licking his chops.
You guys, they’re dogs. If you can’t get a perfect picture of your guy looking regal and still, then don’t go that route! Instead, increase your shutter speed and embrace the action shot. The best advice we can give you is to enjoy yourself. Because chances are, if you’re not having fun, then neither is your pup – and happy dogs make the best portraits.
Taking pictures of dogs should be fun. If it isn’t, then add treats, toys, friends and a little patience. And let them be themselves! If your give dog space to evolve as a subject, you’ll be amazed by the results.