Whether you’re trying to capture a perfect pet portrait or just a silly selfie with your dog for Instagram, here are some great tips and tricks to help you take great photos of dogs with the camera you already have.
First, take a minute to think about what makes your dog special or unique. Whether they’re showing off a special trick they’ve been learning, sleeping adorably with a favorite toy, or just have a big silly grin from a day at the beach, every dog has a moment where their personality just shines.
- Don’t use a flash! Keep the lasers in the portrait studio please.
- If you can’t avoid using a flash, try diffusing the harshness with a piece of Kleenex or semi-transparent plastic. Experiment!
- Natural light is always best. Indoor lighting can create odd color casts that you can correct for, but that’s easier to fix than the dreaded laser eyes.
- If you can’t afford Photoshop try a free app like Pixlr to edit your dog photos to perfection
- Correct your photos in this order for best results:
- Rotation: If you can see the horizon or where a wall meets the ground – it should be straight! Likewise for lamp posts and other vertical elements.
- Exposure: Way too dark or too light? Nudge up the exposure just a bit to bring back the details. A well exposed and balanced photo should have one area with a white white and one area with a black black and a good range in between.
- Color Balance / Levels: If your exposure is good, the color balance will be easier. Take baby steps and don’t be afraid to use your “undo” button and start over.
- Sharpness: Use the sharpness tool as a brush to carve in a little sharpness where you need it instead of just using an allover sharpness filter. Face details may need a little more pop, background items might benefit from a little blur to encourage your eye to stay on your subject: the beloved dog!
- Let your dog get used to having the camera around and pointed at him if he isn’t already.
- Get focused. You want to make sure your dog’s eyes or nose are in focus since fur is soft anyway. As long as a main facial feature is in focus, your eye will ignore any other blurriness.
- Using your phone as a camera? Most phone apps let you touch the screen to set your point of focus. Play around with all the buttons or try different apps to get the most out of what you’ve got! To the left is a screen shot of Rudy P Kane with his nose set as the focal point in Camera+ for the iPhone.
- Some cameras and phones offer a “Burst Mode” option – this causes the camera to take multiple shots when you press the trigger. Great for action shots and wiggly puppies!
- Get on your dog’s level! Sit, lie on the ground, or have your dog up on something to get the best angle.
- Fill the frame! You subject should ideally take up 3/4 of the frame – don’t be afraid to get in close, use a zoom, or crop your photo to eliminate distractions.
- Pay attention to what’s around and in the background of your shot. Remove clutter and distractions to make sure your dog is the star of your picture…instead of that stack of newspapers or smudge on the wall.
- Have a few toys or treats on hand to encourage different facial expressions and postures.
- Patience. It might take some time for your dog to relax and “act natural” with you in unusual positions with a camera…plus exciting treats and toys!
- Get an assistant. If one person focuses on helping dog and one on operating the camera, the job is a little easier. Kids make great assistants and bring out that special joy with pets (or just wear your dog out enough so that they hold still.)
- Dark colored dog? Choose a light background. Light colored dog? Choose a darker background. It sounds simple but it can make a huge difference.
We’d love to see how these tips and tricks work out for you! Share your photos with us in the comments.