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8 Dog Photography Tips for Better Pet Portraits

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Taking a pet portrait is the most challenging yet fun-filled task for photographers.

You have to be on alert mode constantly, keeping the furry buddy engaged. One wrong move and you will lose both your dog’s attention as well as the perfect pose. And, let’s not forget the wrath of the Great Dane when furious!

On the flip side, there can be nothing more precious than capturing the adorable moments of these fluffy buddies. Well, if you’re a dedicated pet photographer and wish to make the best out of these shoots, then you have arrived at the right place.

In this post, we have compiled the top 8 dog photography tips for better dog portraits. Read more to unravel!

1. Get to Know the Dog

First things first, learn more about your subject (the dog) and understand its personality. Is the dog energetic, lazy, peaceful, or aggressive? By knowing its traits, you can prepare for the shoot better.

For example, if you know the subject would be energetic, you can stay mentally ready for sudden clicks. You can also take some things to entertain the pet, such as dog treats and toys.

2. Make Use of Natural Lightning

Natural lighting is an amazing tool to take dramatic and realistic pet portraits. It changes throughout the day. So, you can shift the dog’s position such that light strikes him from different angles.

Perhaps, the best time to capture a pet portrait in natural light is at dawn or sunset. The golden hues offered are perfect for angelic pictures of the dog. You can also try evening hours when their sky has a cool glow.

3.  Include the Pet Owner in the Shoots

It doesn’t matter how trained the dog is or how experienced you are at handling dogs. There is always a chance of the dog panicking at the last moment.

The slightest movement can make the furry buddy uncomfortable and anxious. It is important to take strategic measures and calm him down before things get out of control.

An effective way is to let the owner enter the shoot. Most dog breeds instantly become calm at the sight or touch of the owner. You can also flip things around and take gorgeous pet-owner clicks.

4.  Use Burst Mode

If the dog is quite energetic, you can expect some unpredictable actions during the shoot.  The dog will ruin the pose in seconds and may even start running in the studio.

In this case, pause your planned shoot for a minute and turn on the continuous shooting (burst mode). This particular technique will help you get some fun, lively images that encapsulate the essence of the moment.

5.  Play with Solid Colors

Although natural light is a wonderful option, it is not the only one. You can always rock on the pet portrait session with indoor setups.

Pull out some solid-colored backdrops in your studio, and position the dog in front of it.  Add artificial lights on angles to create a dynamic effect.

Also, make sure to eliminate all shadows using reflectors. It will help the dog pop out in the final image.

6. Give the Dog Some Space

As mentioned before, most dogs get uncomfortable with strangers. They might even feel attacked or threatened when with new people.

While letting the dog owner stay nearby is a good hack, another effective way is to maintain distance with the dog. Use the zoom-in feature to capture images in the early hours of the shoot.

Once the dog starts feeling comfortable, you can start closing in the distance until getting the desired clicks.

7. Try Manual Focus

Sometimes, autofocus isn’t your best friend. It is especially true when you are taking pet portraits. 

When the dog is calm, you can enable the manual mode and use it to focus on the specific parts of his body.

However, when using manual focus, both the subject and the camera should be stable. Otherwise, you won’t get clear images at all.

8. It's all in the Eyes!

Admit it or not – pet portraits that focus on the eyes create depth and an amazing feel. The image evokes a lot of emotions and thoughts for the onlooker.

To take these portraits, get down to the dog level and focus the camera on the eyes. It is even great if the color of the eyes is unique.

Also, try to capture these emotive pet portraits at the end of the session. Your dog will be feeling more relaxed by then and will allow you to take images closely.

Final Words

Dog portrait photography is an experience for both the photographer and the pet. You can snap lots of amazing images and create a dynamic portfolio.

As for the dog, the shoot can provide him with a new learning opportunity. Plus, the dog owner will have some great images to decorate the house.

We hope these tips will have helped you make the perfect pet portraits. In case of any query or recommendation, do let us know below!

About the Author:

Shawn Mack is an experienced content writer who offers ghostwriting, copy-writing, and blogging services. His educational background in the business and technical field has given him a broad base from which to approach many topics. He is also fond of writing interesting articles on technology and digital marketing-related topics.

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