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  • Writer's pictureEmily

How To Take Better Photos of Your Dog - Part 1

If you’re anything like me, your phone storage is full of pics of your pup! We all love having great photos of our dogs to share on social media, to show off to friends and to hang around the house. Here are some quick tips to help you get the best capture of your pup!

Lighting is Everything No matter your subject, the key to a great photo is lighting. Lighting will literally make or break photos! Harsh natural light or poor indoor light will most definitely ruin a great moment. Aim to take photos in soft light: either at dawn/dusk (think golden hour!) or on overcast days. The worst time of day to take photos outside is the middle of the day, when the sun is overhead and casting harsh shadows. Overcast days are key, providing enough light but without the shadows. If you have to take photos when there are harsh shadows, opt to take the photos in the shade instead of direct sunlight.

My camera is nearly on the ground for this photo of Flare as a puppy!

Get Low One of the easier ways to significantly improve your dog photography is to get low! Shooting eye level or lower will give you the best perspective and will put the emphasis on the dog. Photos from above almost never turn out well; my camera is always positioned as close to the ground as I can get. Laying on the ground outside may not seem ideal, but the finished product will be worth it!

Keep Composition in Mind Composition is how you arrange visual elements in the photo. It’s common to center the dog in frame, but creative composition can drastically change the appeal of a photo! Keep these things in mind when considering composition:

  • Rule of thirds: "the rule of thirds pertains to where your subject is located in the frame. If you break your photo up into 9 quadrants by drawing two lines both horizontally and vertically, your subject should fall at the intersection of the lines." (Reference)

  • Rule of space: this means that if your subject (your dog) is not looking directly at the camera but is looking away, there should be negative space in the direction they are looking. Often, they are running in the direction they are looking, so negative space in that direction will show where they are going.

  • Frames: creating frames in a photo are a great way to draw attention to the subject. I use trees to frame photos of my dogs which draws attention to the subject.

  • Depth: a sense of depth in a photo can really spice it up! Try separating your dog from the background to create a sense of the depth. So if there is a solid row of trees or a fence line that you are photographing in front of, put plenty of space between your dog and the wood line or your dog and the fence. This will give a totally different feel to the photo!

The log in the foreground and trees in the background give this photo a sense of depth.

Focus on Focus We definitely want the focus of our dog photography to be on the dog, so make sure the dog is in focus! Most phones focus by tapping on the screen where you want to focus. This should always be on the dog’s face for a full body photo, or on the dog’s eyes for a close up. Crisp, focused photos are significantly more appealing than blurry photos.

Sit-stay is critical for taking photos of multiple dogs!

A Trained Dog is an Easy Dog to Photograph!

Having a well-trained dog will make life so much easier, especially when taking photos! Whether or not you have someone to help you, having a solid sit-stay will be game changing for great photos. When you can have your dog off-leash (where appropriate!) for photos, the lack of collars/leash will definitely create a cleaner, more appealing photo. If you're struggling with getting your dog to sit and stay, I cover this in step-by-step videos on my Patreon!

Happy Dogs Make Happy Photos In order to get the best photo, it’s important that your dog looks his best! We want to avoid the dog looking stressed at all (wide eyed, panting, hunched/worried body posture), etc. A dog that is sitting/standing tall with relaxed facial features will look confident and happy! Using duck calls , treats or toys is my favorite way to get their attention for a “ears forward” photo, but be sure not to be too exciting! If you get your dog too amped for their favorite toy, they might struggle to sit still or might look anxious from being so excited. If your dog has any special words they love (like “treat” or “walk”), those often work great for a happy expression! To begin, take photos at home where your dog is comfortable before venturing to other locations. Sometimes dogs can get nervous in new environments and that will be reflected in their photos.

I hope you feel confident to combine these tips to create absolutely stunning photos of your pup!

If you’re looking for more help, stay tuned for tips on: How to use manual settings for photos How to edit phone photos

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