Top Tips for Photographing dogs from International Pet Photographer of the Year, Karen Riches.
How to take great dog photos.
As a pet photographer, I find one of the key skills when photographing dogs is to have patience. This is because dogs all have their own unique characters. You can never know fully before a shoot what the dog will be like. Some dogs are timid and need time to get used to you and their surroundings, whereas others can get excitable and need time to calm down. Dogs will sense if you are agitated, or trying to rush them, so patience is the key.
Get down to the dog’s level
The best way to get the dog’s attention is to get down to their level. This helps you to get the dog’s attention more easily. It also means the dog is more likely to be focused and looking into the camera. Both of which result in a better photograph for you.
Wherever possible, whether in the studio or outdoors, try to remove distracting objects from the background. By doing so you’ll prevent the viewer’s attention from being taken away from the gorgeous dog you’re photographing. If you do have anything else in the photograph, make sure it adds something to the overall image.
Getting their attention
Find a way to get the dog’s attention. There are different ways to do this, and you’ll find each dog will react to different things. You can try using treats, make a noise, use a squeaker, or even show them a ball. Mostly I find silly noises, or a squeaker, usually works best. However, treats are often brought into play too. Especially with dogs that love food!
Focus on the eyes
There is a saying that ‘eyes are the window to the soul’. This is true when photographing dogs, as much as when photographing people. Focus your camera so that the eyes are always sharp. This will draw in the viewer and help create a stunning image.
Dogs can be quick! If your camera has the option, try to set your shutter speed high, in order to capture that speed. A higher shutter speed means you have a better chance of getting the dog in focus.
Timing is particularly important when photographing puppies, especially sleeping puppies. Puppies tend to tire easily, so take your action shots first. Once they have tired themselves out, it won’t be long before they’ll want to sleep. Other factors also help, like a warm, quiet room.
Know your camera!
Dogs can have the best expressions. But often it’s only for a split second, so your need to be quick and make sure that you and your camera are always ready. Because you want to be able to click the shutter quickly if they pull one of those brilliantly quirky expressions. They are always the ones that make us smile the most.
Props can be quite useful for pet portraits. Firstly, they’re great for adding interest to an image, especially when you’re trying to create a piece of art for the wall. Secondly, depending on the prop, they can help keep the dog’s interest for a short while. Which, in turn, gives you a bit more time to get the shot! You could also include items that belong to the dog, (such as the teddy in this photograph), for an even more personal touch.
The happier a dog is, the happier its expressions will be. Their happiness will show in their eyes, also their ears will prick up, and you might even get a smile! These are all the things that are key to helping you to create a pet portrait you’ll love.
” Photographing dogs is amazing fun, which makes the job of a pet photographer incredibly rewarding! “
To see more images like these why not take a look at the website or Instagram page. Our studio is based in the middle of Worden Park, in Leyland Lancashire. It’s a great place for dog photography, as we’re able to photograph pets in the studio, then take them outdoors to continue their photoshoot in the park.