By Karen Soukiasian
The majority of dog owners love to see and take pictures of their dogs. We have a intrinsic need to visually journal their journey through life.
Most dogs, for some reason known only to them, are quite camera-friendly! They don’t have a clue what you’re doing, but they know it must be something important. After all, you are focused on them!
Fact is, because we don’t know the secrets professional photographers use, some of the pictures we take are just so-so, but we keep them. By bearing in mind a few simple tips, more of your pictorial challenges to document your dog’s life and capture their character will be fondly cherished.
Today, with digital cameras, it’s much easier than it was years ago when we had to remember to have film on hand and then remember to take the rolls to be developed. Now, all we have to do is make sure we have plenty of fresh batteries and a spare memory card. Most of us have the necessary basic software to even do our own editing. A little cropping here, a little more lighting there. Presto, we have a great shot!
Here are a few tips to remember:
Keep your camera handy and ready to go. You never know when you’ll need it.
Be patient. As we all know, dogs have a short attention span. You may be enjoying the goings-on, but don’t be surprised if they get bored and just walk off. Find something they like, to keep them involved.
Natural light is always better than using a flash. When possible, take advantage of natural lighting. Try to get more natural light into the room. Move your subject near a window or take the shots outside. Using natural light helps prevent the pet or red-eye common to so many pet photos.
Get down to their level. Photos taken at eye level are more interesting than top shots. More of your dog, less of a background is what you are looking for. Now you’re seeing their world from their perspective!
Tire your subject out. A little exercise takes some of the wind out of their sails. This is especially true before attempting to photograph puppies or active dogs. They make better models when they aren’t so fidgety.
Have an assistant. It’s much easier to get your dog to focus, when someone else is helping to get their attention making noises, waving a treat or squeaking a toy, while you concentrate on the shot.
Full head shots are great, but pictures focused on special features and details such as a crooked ear, a mottled nose or beautiful eyes make the photo a little more interesting. Remember, it doesn’t always have to be a picture of their full face. A dog’s character is more than just their face. Try a few different angles. You can do paw shots, profiles or if their tail or markings are unique, take a shot of them. Details are out of the ordinary and will make your photo unique.
Fill the frame!
Be patient. Wait until they are napping to get some cute sleepy shots. Many puppies yawn and stretch when they first wake up…capture that yawn or stretch!
Stop shaking… hold that camera steady. Rest it on something or someone if need be. If the photos you are taking are serious “studio” shots, invest in a tripod.
As a rule asymmetrical photos are more interesting than ones that have the subject right smack dab in the middle.
Candid shots are often the most fascinating. Allow them to go about doing what ever they are doing and capture the moment when they are off guard and not posing.
Surprise them! Don’t give them a chance to pose. The expressions caught on surprised pictures are usually priceless!
Action shots are a bit harder, since you don’t want them to be just a blur. Most cameras today have an action or sport setting. Don’t forget to change the setting when your dog is playing, jumping or running.
To lock in an action shot, the button on most digital cameras can be pressed half way down to “lock in” the action. Then press all the way down to expose it.
Watch your backgrounds. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish a dark dog against a dark background…other times it works great.
Zoom in for close-ups. The zoom lens is a great way to get those candid shots without distracting your subject.
Use props. They may have a favorite ball or stuffed toy…get it in the pictures. Years from now, you’ll fondly remember how much they loved that item.
Experiment… play around with your camera. You’ll be surprised at what you can do with it and a little bit of imagination.
Bottom line: Have fun! Take lots of pictures of your puppy or dog. If they aren’t perfect, so what? You can edit them with a tad of cropping, red-eye fixing or highlighting. The most important thing is, you are creating a diverse and out of the ordinary chronicle of precious memories of the times you shared with your best friend.
Follow Karen A. Soukiasian on Facebook.