We all know how hard it can be to take a pic of our pups. They never want to look at the camera or the phone! Flashes look horrible, and natural lighting can be so dark that you can’t tell where your dog ends and the sofa begins. It’s so hard to capture your canine’s adorableness with a simple camera or phone. How can you take the best pictures of your dog like the professionals do?
Never fear! We asked pet photographer Mark Rogers for his best tricks for taking high-quality dog pictures — without getting into complicated stuff like f-stops and shutter speed. Here are our favorites tips.
Pro tips for taking great dog photos
Time it well
If you’re looking for action shots, have your photo shoot before the daily three-mile run. If you want a serene portrait, make it after.
Let your dog get used to the camera
The click and flash of a camera can rattle dogs at first, says Rogers. Let your dog give the camera a good sniff, then start casually shooting the surroundings.
If you’ve got a film camera, you can do this before you load the film. Once your dog’s gotten used to the camera and starts doing their own thing, begin taking pictures.
The idea is to keep things natural and relaxed. What not to do: grab a ton of treats, abruptly shove the camera in your dog’s face, and repeat, “Mommy’s gonna take your picture!” at a high pitch.
Take lots of pictures
This is the first rule of photography, no matter what the subject. The more you take, the better your chances of getting a few amazing shots. “Always bring an extra battery,” warns Rogers.
Turn off the flash
Most amateur photographers do best with warm, natural sunlight. To avoid washed-out pictures, shoot in the mornings or evenings, on slightly overcast days, or in the shade on a bright day.
For indoor shots, you’ll probably need a flash. You’ll get a more natural-looking shot if you use an off-camera flash and swivel it upward so the light’s bouncing off the ceiling.
If it’s daytime, open the curtains and let the light flood the room.
Get down on your dog’s level
“If you stand over your dog and look down, every shot you take is going to look like everyone else’s,” says Rogers.
Take a knee, sit, crouch, or do whatever you have to do to get eye-to-eye with your dog.
Pay attention to background
Simple backgrounds, like a white sandy beach or green trees, make your dog stand out.
If you’ve got a point-and-shoot camera, have your dog at least a dozen feet in front of the background so they’ll be more in focus than whatever’s behind them, and of course, watch for tree branches that look like they’re growing out of your dog’s head.
Pay attention to color, too — no black backgrounds for black dogs, brown backgrounds for brown dogs, and so on.
A friend with a squeaky toy will come in handy if you want a head-on shot or a regal profile. However, keep your dog’s personality in mind with this tip.
“Some dogs get amped up really fast when their toys are around, so it can have the opposite effect of what you intended,” says Rogers.
Get creative and playful
Lots of full-body shots taken from 10 feet away can get mighty dull. Get up close so your dog fills the entire frame. Get even closer so you get the full effect of that long, wet nose.
Photograph your dog head on, in profile, at 45-degree angles. And don’t get hung up on perfection; sometimes that shot with your dog’s tail out of the frame is the one you’ll have hanging on your wall for years.
“With pet photography, serendipity is the name of the game,” says Rogers. “The best shots are often the spontaneous ones.”
Now that you know how to take great pics of your pup, check out how to build your canine companion’s social media presence. Also, check out the top dog influencers on Instagram! Talk about #goals!