It’s happened to all of us—we just can’t capture our dog’s full cuteness in a photo. Oh, we’ve tried. But our dog won’t stop moving, or his fur blends into the background, or a squirrel races by, and the moment is lost, along with a shot at “dogs of Instagram” fame. Don’t worry, though! It’s easier than you think to take better pictures of dogs. We’ve got the tips you need for dog photography without fancy equipment or software. In short:
- Find the right light
- Stay focused
- Watch your background
- Get down on the dog’s level
5 steps for taking good pictures of dogs
1. Find the right light
Outdoors, take advantage of natural light
- If you can, pose your dog by a window or glass door to get soft lighting.
- Avoid harsh, bright sunlight. On cloudless days, take photos in the shade. Overcast days are perfect for outdoor photography.
Indoors, avoid flash by using lamps
- Avoid using flash unless absolutely necessary. Flash makes lighting harsh and flat, and it can give pets that dreaded red-eye effect.
- If you have a flexible-neck desk lamp, that can make great lighting for an indoor pet photoshoot.
2. Stay focused
When it comes to taking pictures of our wiggly pets, focusing correctly can be a challenge.
Avoid camera shake
- You’ll hold the camera or phone more still if you hold your breath while taking the photo.
- It helps to rest your elbows on something, whether it’s a table or fence post.
Capture motion without blur
- Trying to get a photo of a running dog? Follow the dog with your camera as you take the shot. You’ll wind up with a stunning photo of a clear dog with a blurred background.
3. Watch your background
Pay attention to the background of your images. Are there messy dinner dishes on the table? Is there a poop scooper behind the dog? Keep your background clean. It can be super-simple: this photo series of dogs against solid-color backgrounds shows just how much this trick helps.
4. Get the puppy perspective
Get down on dog level! Tula the dog photographer is famous for a reason: she shows you what life is like from a dog’s point of view.
- When you’re taking pictures of pets, getting down on their level can make a huge difference.
- Try and get them to look at you using treats, whistling, or a high-pitched tone, and the shot will really shine.
5. Edit photos before sharing them
Whether on a cell phone or a computer, photo editing applications are priceless. Even a slight adjustment can make your photos look more professional.
- Your camera has built-in editing and fun filters—play around to find the best one.
- Editing the brightness and contrast can really make highlights and shadows pop.
- Keep an eye on the color. Do the whites look too yellow or too green?
Bonus!: Easy cell phone tricks for taking pictures of dogs
Your dog could also be Instagram-famous! When taking pictures of dogs with a smartphone:
Turn off the power saver, and turn on HDR
- Ensure any power-saving modes are turned off. They slow down your camera’s performance.
- You can turn on HDR mode to help balance the lighting.
Use special modes for action shots
- To keep up with fast-moving pets, use burst shooting and pick the least blurry of the shots.
- Many cameras have a mode just for running subjects, typically called Sports, Action, or Kids & Pets mode.