Taking Better Dog Photos

Dog owners love to take pictures of their dogs, but it’s not easy to get their cooperation.

One studio photographer says he has to work lightning fast before the dog gets tired. Setting the pet against a solid black or white background, he takes about 300 photos from close up, using special lenses and filters, to capture the pet’s personality. Be patient and anticipate the shot, he says. Here are some tips from experts on how to take better photos of your dog at home.

Some animals are wary of a camera being pointed at them, or of you concealing your face with it. They are definitely afraid of the flash, which should never be used on animals because it can hurt their eyes. Show your camera to your dog. Let her sniff it and get accustomed to it. It may be helpful to reward her with a treat for taking her picture, but certainly praise her for her cooperation. 

It helps if she knows commands to sit and stay. But be sensitive to signs of fatigue. 

A great mobile phone camera will have all kinds of photo enhancers. Find out what your phone does and how you can use it to your advantage. Perhaps get a selfie stick so you can take photos of the two of you together.  

Choose your background carefully, whether it’s an uncluttered area of the home, a pretty quilt for puppies, or a gorgeous outdoor setting, and try to avoid distractions like food and noise.

Think about your lighting. Sunlight, even filtering inside the house through a window, is always best. Stand between her and the sun to get the best outdoor lighting on her. Early morning or an overcast day are good photo times because the sunlight will not be too harsh then.

Types of Photos

  • For a close-up, concentrate on her eyes and her expression for the best shots. Her eyes should be in the very center of the photo to draw the most attention.
  • Or set up pictures that tell a story. There is always good material for story photos on trips and neighborhood walks, or at special events. One example may show your dog in A Halloween costume, sitting beside the pumpkin with the kids. A wide shot includes everyone. A closeup reveals the excitement in your dog’s eyes. A candid shot may catch her sleeping in the scarecrow’s lap because it’s wearing dad’s clothes.
  • Candid shots capture her personality during daily life. Many times that means you have to be prepared to get down on the ground to see things from her point of view, or from around the corner, catching her in the act. Just think of yourself as paparazzi and catch the moments of her life that are special to her. 
  • Action shots are where taking a video works better. Suggestions are: playing fetch, roaming on a hiking trail, romping at the ocean. Look how high she can jump! You can always copy some frames of the video to…well…frame.
  • Try a dramatic silhouette of your dog against the background of a blazing sunset, or a misty morning sunrise photo that suggests all the possibilities of a new day.
  • The American Kennel Club suggests also taking close-ups of your pet’s cute, curly tail or other features that are especially endearing to you about your lovable dog. 

Always take at least two shots of the same situation, and many more if possible. A slight tilt of the head or a twinkle in the eyes can make the difference between a good shot and a great one.

But most importantly, the best shots say ‘Fun!’ and that starts with you setting a happy playtime mood for photographing your dear friend. Enjoy!