by Katie Behnke
Have you ever been in the field or in a blind and thought “it is so pretty out here, and my dog looks great! I wish I could take good photos of my dogs!” Well, you don’t always need the fancy SLR cameras and special equipment to take a good photo of your dog. Here are some easy photography tips that you can use with any basic camera (or cell phone) to help improve your dog photos!
Change Your Angle
Many times, when people take pictures of their dogs, they are standing and photograph at a sharp downward angle. Next time, try getting down on your knees. Your dog will take on a more recognizable dog shape, plus you will have a more intimate photo with your dog.
Don’t think there are too many situations where you are too close. Photographing from too far back, you lose details and personality. Don’t worry, your setting (background) will still be visible, but this helps put your dog as the focus of your picture.
Perk Those Ears and Close that Mouth
It is amazing how important those ears are! If your dog is alert and paying attention, those ears will be forward and “perked.” Unless it is hot or you have been working the dog hard, the mouth will usually be closed. You can gain your dog’s attention by throwing something that excites him (like a bumper or ball). This is a great time to have help, somebody who can throw the bumper while you are taking the picture. Take your photo of the dog while the bumper is in mid air. Your dog will be looking up and at attention, like they are marking game in the field or preparing for an adventure.
This tip applies especially for those black labs who turn into black blobs in the photographs. Photography is the art of capturing light, and during high noon, the sun gives you a lot of light. The reason your black lab turns into a black blob is because your camera is working harder at capturing the light reflected off everything else around the dog (grass, background) than the dog himself. The best balance of lights and shadows are early in the early day and late afternoon. You will find more shine on your dog’s coat and better definition if you wait for the better hours.
Photographs can be used to tell a story, especially the way your dog is facing. If your dog is facing to the left or right, giving some space the direction he is facing gives him some space to move in that direction. It is a trick of aesthetics. Your brain will see that space and start to put together that the dog is preparing for a retrieve or an adventure. It is better to center your dog when he is facing you (if standing still or running towards you).
Know Your Dog’s Limitations (And Yours!)
This tip mostly applies to younger dogs. If your dog can sit and stay, but may leave their place easily when they see something they want to retrieve, you may have a hard time getting a photo. If your dog hasn’t been introduced to birds yet, but you want a photo with a bird in the mouth, better to wait. You could have the right idea, but trying to get the photo may ruin the training (and the real time and effort) for the dog.
There is one more tip I can share with you, and it is a Wildrose training rule. Have patience. Patience with your dog and patience with your photography. Your skills will not develop overnight, but they will improve through time and practice.