Photographing pets is a different ordeal altogether. The pain is heightened when the choice of the photographer, is a human that fears dogs in general. Dog photography is no ordinary feat to accomplish. With flying snots and loud barks, it can deter the motivation of any photographer. It is not the gig for the faint-hearted and must be executed by a determined professional. Dog photography especially is a tongue-wagging affair (pun intended). Here are our 15 dog photography tips for perfect pet portraits and how to get them with ease.
1. Study the relationship
It is a topic to be stressed upon if the dog owners are attached to it. Pets have life-altering experiences on the owners and if you gather information about that relationship, it can generate a few ideas about potential portrait settings. You can use it to your advantage and try to recreate the similar moments with little input from users.
2. Don’t Fret
Photographers seem to fear animals a lot because of their clingy and spontaneous nature. Even tiny playfulness can do a lot of damage to the gear. But keep in mind that they are your subject of focus for the next gig. Muster some courage and try to overcome your fear of dogs.
3. Master a trickery
Photographers that have not ever encountered animals as a subject should know a few tricks to woo the dogs. There is a plethora of information available on youtube that can be of use in your next gig. Even if that does not help you can ask from the owners about a trick or two that their pet likes.
4. Woo the pet
Spend some time with your subject and try to establish a friendly relationship with it. It will only bolster your chances of communicating with it during the shooting session. The feat isn’t easy but you can request the owners about how to maintain a good rapport with the dogs. Take it for a light wander around the yard, make it feel special by rewarding it.
5. Carry a treat
Dogs show affinity to people that try to reward them with tiny and frequent treats while conversing with them. They are extremely playful and love to munch on something in a while. Do consult the owners about the choice of treats and allergies before offering something to the dogs. Try to reward them for their effort rather than blathering them with goodies at every sight.
6. Take your time
The shoot won’t happen in a single day and the photographers know it better than everyone else. Pace yourself for some exasperating sessions as pets can have different moods on different days. Chalk out a plan for timing the portraits and the location where you think it would be best to take them. Be prepared for multiple iterations that can extend from your expected timeline.
7. Opt for Dark Backgrounds
Dogs have vibrant skin tones and colors that shine out bets in dark background settings. Using the darks tones as your primary choice can direct more focus on the subject of focus, which in this case is dogs. Dark backgrounds are a favorite for photographers inherently but can slip out of the mind in a tedious schedule. Fiddling in photoshop is also best for inducing better portraits.
8. Zoom in on the eyes
Focusing on the eyes is in every handbook of a photographer. It’s results, however, are heightened when performed on animals. Try to tire out the dog before capturing deep portraits and be on the lookout for emotive actions. Use a reflector to shine the light on the dog’s eyes and use manual focus to lock-in on the face, usually the eyes of the subject.
9. Switch to manual
Auto-focus is a good option to be ready always but it does not produce the best results in every camera variant. While capturing dog activities, their playfulness, the manual focus can bring out the best results in every picture. Manual focus allows the photographer to choose the point of focus for every shot of its subjects, it can be their face or paws.
10. Gradual exposure
Don’t bombard the dogs with direct flash and reflector lights. They are super-sensitive to such changes in the normal environment and can act jumpy. Conduct a few pre-shoots to gradually expose them to the bright light. This will only smoothen your experience in the final capturing sessions.
11. Burst mode
Using bursts mode will only help you capture the vivacious nature of the dogs when they are trying to hold still. It’s in their very nature to be jumpy and jolly most of the time and the burst mode will encapsulate those moments with ease. You cannot pace the dogs for a longer period of time and respect that.
12. Go out of the room
Dogs are very intimate with nature and showcase their playfulness the best when exposed to outdoor environments. Outdoor settings are a nice way of spicing things up without incorporating too many props as nature itself acts as a gigantic one.
13. Use the shade
Shadows help put emphasis on the dogs without messing with the tone of the image. The outdoor settings demand a reflector in order to conduct shoots but using shade as a natural reflector can help too. It only adds to the value of the alluring personality of the dogs.
14. Choose a perfect medium
Cameras with a newer firmware have the ability of AI-tracking embedded in them. It is not something new but a few of them come with support for animal face tracking that can be a huge plus when capturing dogs as your primary subject. This idea is not a credibility tester, it will just ease your work.
15. Stoop down
Dogs are not tall and standing up while capturing them is not an advantage. Stoop down to their height, bend your knee to actually get on par with their level. You’ll notice an improvement in the first few shots yourself.
Dogs can be a handful but what can we do? Embrace their personality and connect with them. This was our comprehensive guide of 15 dog photography tips for perfect pet portraits.