Professional dog photographer: 9 helpful tips
Shooting photographs of your pets can be challenging. Read further to get some great tips from a professional dog photographer, Linda Beks from ME Photography. Located in Nelson Bay she is NSW best professional pet photographer of the year 2016. Follow some great tips to photograph your best friend or dogs of clients that come in your own studio and show us the results of your efforts!
The most photographed pets are dogs, let’s focus in this blog on tips to capture the features of dogs better.
Tips from a professional dog photographer:
- Be Safe Just remember that nice dogs can behave differently in an unfamiliar situation. Dogs can become aggressive. Let the dog sniff at you, avoid eye contact. If they want to explore your camera let them sniff it. Be aware of your gear. Watch the warning signs dogs will give you to avoid to be being bitten. Once I received a phone call from a client to take photographs of her three big dogs; a German Shepherd and two Rottweilers. No problem in a normal situation but these dogs had never been socialised. They hardly took them for walks. A photo shoot in a studio with a stranger might not be the best idea to start with.
- Shoot on their eye level Make sure that you kneel down or even better lay down for a better perspective… Taking photographs of your dog on their eye level instead of your higher level makes the image much more interesting
- Bring toys Try and capture the playfullness of your dog, bring the toys that they like to play with most. This could be a ball or a stick or a frisbee. Play with them and shoot it while your dog is jumping in the air to capture it, or close up when they are holding the toy
- Focus on the eyes A professional dog photographer makes sure everything important is in focus. Eyes are the most important part to have sharp. Make sure you focus the camera on they eyes of the dog.
- Freeze the fun action time Does your dog love to run after balls and bring them back to you? The speed they build up in their run seems hard to capture. It is important to avoid blurry pictures though. Set your camera to S priority. This will make the shutter speed as the priority of your settings and you can dial it up to a high setting so it will freeze your dog’s action.
- Blur the background It is important to keep your background simple, so the focus is on your dog. Make sure there are no poles or other things right behind your dog as in the finished image it would give the impression it might be sticking out of his or hers head. Another trick is to blur the background. You can do this by setting the camera to Av setting; Aperture Priority. If you shoot wide open say with Fstop 2.8 or lower, you will blurry your background and it will become less distracting with more focus on your dog. Often I get the question asked what lens should I buy first? One great lens to purchase is the Sigma 50mm F1.4 art series lens, this lens is pin sharp and is able to blur the background by setting the Aperture to 1.4 and creates so a creamy look with just the focus on your dog.
- Include family members Dogs are peoples best friends so it is important to include them too in images. Also it creates a great perspective, you can see how large or small your dog is.
- Careful with treats Treats can be good and bad for a dog during a dog photography session. If your dog is very treat orientated it is often best not to start with treats straight away. You want to avoid the dog will only want to eat the treats and is not into anything at all. This differs from dog to dog. Every dog has got a different personality so it is good to check out what drives the dog you are photographing.
- Squeaky toys: during the pet photography session make sure you get the attention of the dog. You can use squeaky toys but be careful not to overuse them. Often dogs love them, but to get the attention to the camera you need to make sure you are holding the squeaky toy close to your camera and do not use it too often. Use different sounds. Often a sound works only a few times. An easy way to get their attention is to practice sounds you can make yourself. Barking is one of them. It might look weird or even sounds weird but dogs respond really well to it.
Dogs can be very interesting to photograph, make sure you capture every aspect of them, the lazy dog, the active dog, the cuddly dog, the dog waiting for a treat, the dog being with his best friend. Make sure you do stay safe, check out tip number one, make sure you don’t just start photographing animals; build up a rapport with the dogs first. Make sure you ; use toys and treats to reward them if they are behaving well. Make sure you don’t overfeed the dog before the shoot in this way they stay interested in potential treats you are giving them. If you go on location or not have someone else their to be able to help you out. Remember you can always photoshop a leash out of the image if you have to, it is better than a dog disappearing on you. Foremost… have fun and stay calm. Dogs sense you so if you stay calm most likely they will do the same..!
Are you worried about your dogs behaviour, check out Barkers in Balance webpage and see what they can do for your dog, a dog that is under control is much easier to photograph than a dog that is disobeying you. If you are in the Newcastle area or want to combine dog boarding with training look up Shadowhawk my dog used to go to their when we went on holidays and I got back a perfectly well trained dog back. So awesome.!
Check out some images from professional dog photographer Linda Beks in the pet portrait portfolio
Ready to book a professional dog photographer?
Linda is an accredited professional dog photographer and winner of the NSW AIPP Professional Pet Photographer of the year 2016, see what that accreditation means for you on the website of the AIPP read more about Linda on the about page.