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15 Dog Photography Tips For Taking Some Of The Best Dog Photos

Have you ever wondered how to take amazing photos of your pup? Always wanted to be featured by Instagram accounts with lots of followers? The Pawsitive Co. is here to help!

Taking good photos of your dog can be a tricky task. And while you may think you need a professional camera, you really don't. We love featuring photos of dogs on our Instagram, but there are some things we look for in photos we repost. Here are a few tips on how to take good photos of your dog and increase your chances of being featured by accounts with lots of followers:

The Basics

1. Let Your Dog Get Used To The Camera

First things first, let your dog get used to the camera. If your dog is wary of your device, the photos will show that. Let them sniff your camera or phone so they can familiarize themselves with it. Give them some treats too, so they associate your device with something positive. You can even try shooting some of the surroundings before photographing your dog. Once your dog is used to your camera or phone, the stage is set for more natural, relaxed and candid photos.

2. Find Good Lighting

As in all photography, finding the right lighting is key. Take advantage of the natural light when shooting both outside and inside. Overcast days provide great lighting for pet photography, while sunny days have harsher light. For these days, opt to take photos in some shade. When indoors, try taking advantage of natural light by positioning your dog by a window or glass door. When there's no natural light, use lamps for soft lighting. Avoid using your flash, unless absolutely necessary, because it will create harsh lighting and give your pup those red or glowing eyes.

    3. Backgrounds Are Important Too

    Backgrounds are also important when taking good photos. Try to keep your background simple and clean so your pet stands out more (with the exception of photographing your dog on a hike against mountains, waterfalls or spectacular nature). Also, pay attention to the color of the background as you usually won't want your pet to blend in (unless you're getting artsy). If you want your dog to be in focus and what's behind them to be blurry, position your pup positioned about 12 feet in front of the background.

    Pro Tip: It's easy to over or under expose dogs with black or white fur, so simple backgrounds really work well for these dogs.

    4. Stay In Focus

    We know taking in focus photos of pets can be challenging because they don't always sit still or stay posed in one place. But one of the most important factors in good pet photography is having clear, sharp images. If you can't take photos without camera shake (another term for out of focus or blurry images), use a tripod or find a sturdy place to rest your elbows. Some people also find it helpful to hold their breath while taking the photo, as it allows them to hold the camera more steadily.

    If you have a camera, you can try using a faster shutter speed when outside. Make sure to balance this with more natural light as higher shutter speeds mean less light is caught by the lens (which is why fast shutter speeds don't work great indoors, especially when there is low light).

    Pro Tip: When taking photos of your dog running, try following him or her with your camera as you take the photo. When done successfully, this results in a photo of a clear dog against a blurred background.

      5. Take A Lot Of Pictures

      Another rule of photography, no matter the type or subject, is to take lots of photos. This is especially useful when photographing our pets, because they are live subjects that will move around. But the more photos you take, the more chances you get at capturing that amazing photo.

      Pro Tip: Always bring an extra battery or portable phone charger if you're planning to shoot away.

      Bonus cell phone tips for taking photos of your dog!

      • Turn on HDR
      • Turn off power saving modes (they slow down the performance of your phone's camera)
      • Use burst shooting to take multiple photos per second 

      Tips For The Photo Session

      6. Get Your Dog's Attention (Use Treats!)

      To get your dog to look at the camera, try calling their name, talking to them, whistling, clicking or making sounds that they respond to. Treats are also a great way to get your dog's attention, as he or she will almost always look right at the treat. If you hold the treat close to the lens, it will look like your dog is looking right into the camera. Just make sure to reward your pup with the treat after you get your photo.

      7. Shoot From Your Dog's Level

      Photographing your dog from human height is great, but don't be afraid to switch it up. Taking photos at your dog's level captures something different and shows everyone what your dog looks like from a dog's perspective. These photos can be very intriguing and eye-catching.

      8. Pay Attention To Details.

      Dogs have lots of characteristics that are adorable and unique. Your pup's eyes, for example, are unique to your dog and very expressive. A good photo of them can feel like you're looking into your dog's soul. Just make sure the eyes are sharp and clear when photographing them. Beyond the eyes, people often overlook dog ears, whiskers, paws and tails but they can all make for great photos. Don't be afraid to get up close and personal with your dog, filling the entire frame with his or her face or focusing in on his or her snout for a "boop my nose" shot. 

      9. Take Some Action Shots.

      Pictures of your dog sitting majestically or snuggling on the couch are always nice and adorable. But dogs are active creatures, so why not how off your pup's athleticism and smarts with action shots from playtime or training. Bonus: after your dog is active, he or she will look like they're smiling when they're slightly out of breath (more on that below). 

      Pro Tip: For actions shots, take your photos before your daily run or walk and for still or relaxed shots, take your photos after.

      10. Get Your Dog To Smile

      A big dog grin (maybe even with a tongue flopping out) is one of the most endearing types of pet photos out there. But they aren't always the easiest photos to capture, as many dogs are often very focused on the camera (or treat). To get your dog to smile, try a quick walk, run or play session. As mentioned above, getting active with your dog will likely bring out a smile.

      11. Let Your Dog Be Themselves

      If your dog is being fussy or having trouble focusing, that's okay. Instead of always  looking for the perfect posed portrait or shot, let your dog be themselves. It also makes for nice photographs when your pup doing what he does normally or naturally. That way you can show off who he truly is and his unique personality.

      12. Stay In Your Dog's Comfort Zone

      Capturing photographs of your dog is a wonderful way to bond while also documenting the life you have together. But don't force your dog into situations that he or she isn't comfortable with. If your dog hates wearing costumes, don't push him or her to wear them. And if he or she doesn't love jumping over things, don't make him or her do so. Forcing your dog to do things they aren't comfortable with will make your pup unhappy and make your photo sessions negative experiences. The purpose of photographing your pup is to capture natural, relaxed and happy moments, which won't happen if your dog is being forced to do things he doesn't want to. 

      Post Photo Session

      13. Edit Your Photos - Brightness & Contrast

      Editing your photos can go a long way in turning a good photo into a great one. Common edits include brightness, white balance and contrast. Ideally, you want your photos to be bright and you want everything to be easy to see. Editing the brightness and contrast can really help enhance the highlights and shadows in your photo. Just make sure not to over-brighten your image to the point that it's washed out or over-exposed - you want your photos to look natural, not filtered. 

      14. Edit Your Photos - Sharpness

      Using the sharpening tool is a great way to add extra details to your photo that weren't necessarily captured clearly on their own. For pet photography, sharpening can enhance your dog's fur or whiskers. But you'll want to use good judgment and not over-sharpen, as that can make your photo look grainy.

      15. Edit Your Photos - Saturation

      Playing around with the saturation in your photo can be a great way to combat dull or washed out colors. Typically, saturation levels between 5-25 are sufficient but it's best to use your own judgement. You'll want to make sure you don't increase saturation too much, as that would cause the colors to look unnatural.

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