When you have kids, you take a million and a half pictures of them… every day. OK, not quite, but it’s only a slight exaggeration. And make no mistake, this absolutely applies to fur babies too. If you have a dog, odds are good you spend a few solid minutes daily trying to capture your pup in all its cuteness.
Only dogs don’t always understand that all we’re tying to do is snap every single precious thing they do, like, every second they do it. (Not to mention get a super-cute shot for our Insta feed.) That’s not too much to ask, right?
Unfortunately, photographing your best fur buddy can be a challenge. Just when you think you’ve got the ideal frame lined up in your lens, your pup moves. Maybe he saw a squirrel. Perhaps he started chasing his tail. Whatever the case, you wind up with nothing but a blur.
So the next time you decide to take pictures of your doggie dearest, keep these pro tips in mind for getting the best results.
1. Play up the pet’s personality
“It’s best to try and capture your cat or dog in a moment where they are showcasing their personality,” says New York-based photographer Jason Checkla. Think about your dog’s unique personality. Wouldn’t you treasure a picture immensely more if it captured the essence of your pup? To do so, find something your dog loves doing — like fetching tennis balls, for example — and start there.
2. Use natural light
There’s a reason photographers love natural light… it’s universally flattering! Besides, when you’re working with dogs, a bright flash can both spook your pup and lead to dreaded red-eye. Try instead to find a large window to photograph your dog near or head outside. If it’s midday and the sun is too harsh overhead, look for a shady shooting spot outdoors.
3. Don’t give up
Even pro photographers don’t get that adorable doggie pic in one shot. Rather, it takes ample patience. “Don’t expect to get the perfect shot on the first try, just keep shooting until you know that you have,” says Checkla. “If you don’t get the shot, don’t get discouraged. Try again later.”
4. Inspire with action
If you want your dog to become animated enough to give you the good shots, you might need to put yourself in your doggie’s paws. “Sometimes, I play with the pet myself while making pictures, typically with a wide-angle lens. I’m like a big kid shooting, running and jumping with the animal. The results are images with energy,” Gary Parker suggested to Popular Photography.
5. Catch them off guard
Don’t go pulling a cucumber-behind-your-cat kind of prank on your dog or anything, but it isn’t a bad idea to get your pup’s attention in a way they weren’t expecting. If you have someone call them from another room or make a noise just loud enough for your dog to hear, chances are you’ll be able to capture a picture where your pup looks alert and poised.
6. Get low
According to Checkla, this is one of the most important aspects of taking an ideal doggie pic — get on your pup’s level. As in, hit the ground! “Most of my favorite pet photography portraits have been taken when I’m literally laying on the ground,” he says. “This puts you on their level and gives you and your viewer more of a perspective into what it’s like to actually be a dog or cat.”
7. Invest in good gear
If you’re serious about getting top-notch photos of your dog, you might have to venture outside of your iPhone or decade-old point-and-shoot. “I like the Canon EOS 5D Mark III better than my Canon EOS-1D Mark IV because the 5D is lighter. Often, though, I end up using 1D Mark IV for its 10 fps framing rate,” explained Parker. However, you can get a decent (and affordable!) DSLR from most big-box store these days that will do just fine too.