Do you ever wish you could capture Pinterest worthy photographs of your dog? Wish no more! We interviewed 4 leading pet photographers to help you create the doggie photoshoot of your dreams! Follow the tips and tricks below to take your photography skills from so-so to so good!
Website: Gooseberry Studios & Pawsh Magazine
Instagram: @gooseberrystudios & @pawsh_magazine
Meet Laura, the creative director and founder of Gooseberry Studios. Laura considers herself a photographer, writer and dreamer; who shoots commercial photography, product photography, dog photography and much more! Her works have appeared in VOGUE UK, Style at Home, The Everygirl and Optimyz Magazine. Laura’s photography style is best described as vibrant, lively and genuine.
Tip 1: Don’t Over Pose your Dog for a Photo
As humans, we tend to get sucked into the myth that a photograph has to be “picture perfect” to be worthy – I’m here to tell you that that isn’t true. Photographs that are too fussed over, too primped and too posed end up (in my humble opinion) looking stiff and less emotionally compelling. I recommend maintaining a natural approach, especially when photographing your dog because they are (as we all know) naturally wonderful already. Don’t worry about getting them groomed – they look adorable all scruffy. Don’t worry about using complicated props – dogs really don’t need them. Don’t worry about getting them into a super-specific pose – a simple “sit” and short “stay” is more than enough to capture a sweet moment or two.
When it comes to dog photography, less is always more. And as a bonus, if you aren’t preoccupied worrying about props, poses or primping, your stress levels will come down too. Since dogs react to our energy levels, the calmer you are, the calmer they will be, which also helps to create genuine and beautiful pup portraits and a smoother photography experience.
Tip 2: Keep Backgrounds Uncluttered
Whether shooting with a big, beefy DSLR or snapping a darling moment with your phone, keeping backgrounds uncluttered while photographing your dog will make all the difference in the final portrait. For example, if you want to work with your dog to get a photo of them on the couch, tidy up a bit first. Move excess throw pillows and blankets, make sure there aren’t coffee cups or remotes lurking behind the couch on a table etc. Make the shooting environment minimalist and calm and as a result, your pup will pop in the frame and the image will instantly look more artful.
Tip 3: Always Keep it Positive
Being “on camera” for a dog isn’t natural for them, which means it is the photographer’s responsibility to make the experience as natural, as comfortable and as enjoyable as possible. Remember that it takes a huge amount of focus and mental energy for a dog to be on camera; so if they move too quickly, are hyper or won’t give you a “stay” for the shot you’re looking for, don’t get frustrated. In fact, as a general rule, the moment you feel yourself getting frustrated put the camera away and take a break. Too many ‘nos’ with a camera in hand and a dog will begin to associate the camera as no fun, which won’t boost their cooperation in future.
Instead, place your pup where you’d like them, ask for a “sit” and a “stay” (if they don’t know sit and stay work on these commands separately), reiterate the stay command in an upbeat tone, snap a few frames and then release them with a big “Yes!” a cuddle and a treat, in that order. Celebrate their success, so they see it all as a big, exciting game and then repeat so you can shoot again.
Danica Oliva Pet Photography
Website: Danica Oliva Photography
Meet Danica, owner of Danica Oliva Pet Photography. Danica is a Toronto-based pet and wedding photographer who has been specializing in dog photography for the last two years. As a former dog walker, being around dogs has always been Danica’s "happy place" and led her passion for photography and videography. Alongside Danica’s extensive film and post-production education, she is a rescue dog advocate and storyteller.
Tip 1: Pick a Comfortable Location
My number one priority is your dog's safety and comfortability. Most dogs thrive in a location that they already love, this may mean you have to work with what you have available around you. Don't think that you have to have a grand backdrop or amazing location to make a beautiful photo work. On the other hand, if you have a dog that loves to explore new locations and thrives in a new environment then go exploring!
Tip 2: Get Low
Yup, you heard that right! Put on clothes that you don't mind getting dirty, and maybe some knee pads if you have trouble on hard surfaces. I learned this the hard way, but it's the best way to get up and personal with your close-ups. The lower you can go, the more level you are with your dog's height, which is where your angles and perspectives will be best.
Tip 3: Keep it Simple
Remember that your dog doesn't understand what a photoshoot is. For most dogs listening to directions and having patience is a lot to ask for a long duration of time. When you're going about your shots and getting in all your angles be sure to keep them walking around, giving them treat incentives (if they're food motivated), and don't overcomplicate things. I always suggest that if you want to give your dog an "outfit change" make it something simple like a bandana or another coloured leash. If you make your dog change into difficult garments it will make them fussy and not happy to be there (in my experience).
Posh Pets Photography
Website: Posh Pets Photography
Meet Karen Weiler of Posh Pets® Photography, an award-winning pet photographer who spends her days and nights photographing adorable dogs and cats in Toronto, the GTA and beyond. Her passion for dog photography started with four photographs and has been on-going ever since! She shares her home with her husband and two cats.
Tip 1. Seek out Good Light
The single, most important part of photography is light – after all the origin of the word literally means ‘drawing with light’. If you are using a cell phone or do not want to fuss with flash photography, natural light will be your friend. Take some time to observe where the softest natural light falls in your home, (hint: it’s probably near a window when the sun is not shining directly in). Also, take note of the time of day it occurs. The sun moves throughout the day, so the best spot in your home will change. Once you have figured out where your pup needs to be, encourage them to spend time in the spot by introducing a bed, blankets, favourite toys or treats.
Tip 2: Spend Time Observing Where your Pet Spends Time and Declutter that Area
Notice I didn’t say you have to clean your whole house - just the area where you will be taking lots of photos. This can be where your pup naturally spends time or a spot that you have introduced to them based on my first tip. The difference between a photo of your pup with a clean background and one full of distracting elements is huge. Try looking at professional photos and you will see that the background is often simple, allowing the viewer to focus entirely on the subject, your pet.
Tip 3: Try a New Angle
Did you know that most people take photos of their dogs from a standing position, looking down at their dog? While that can create photos of the best puppy dog eyes, it does mean that the photos do not really capture anything interesting or new. After all, you see your dog from that angle every day! Instead, try getting down low and see how your dog suddenly becomes the hero of the photograph.
Happy Tails Pet Photography
Website: Happy Tails Pet Photography
Meet Stacey, the owner of Happy Tails Pet Photography, based in Burlington, Ontario. She loves providing people with keepsakes of their pets that will last a lifetime. Her mission is to capture the authenticity and character of pets for the people who love them. Stacey shares her home with a stubborn golden retriever named Maggie, and bossy-pants tuxedo cat named Kitty.
Tip 1: Get Low
Photograph your pet from their level to create engaging images with connection.
Tip 2: Use Natural Light
Avoid dark rooms and other low-light situations. Try taking your pet outside (soft early morning light or evening light works best) or place them by a window.
Tip 3: Focus on The Eyes
The eyes are the most expressive part of your pet, when framing your image focus on the eyes to make sure they’re sharp. This will also help your pet’s personality shine through.
Now It's Your Turn!
You now know some of the secrets to capturing breathtaking, artistic photos of your dog at home. Whether your goal is to take precious moments or capture your pet's favourite activity, use these tips and tricks to help hone your photography skills.
If any of these tips help you or if you have some tips you'd like to share, comment below - we'd love to hear from you!