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Photographing Dogs

Capturing an image of your furry friend is high on many dog owners’ agendas. Not only are our four legged bundles of energy much loved pets, they usually end up becoming a family member in their own right.

Just like a son and daughter are expected to smile for the camera during family events, Fido is also expected to be captured for the family photo album. Preparation and patience is key when photographing dogs.

Posted on: Fri 31 Aug, 2012 by Gary Dean

Comfort and calm

You need to make sure that your dog is comfortable and in a calm state of mind. Sometimes pointing a camera at your dog can seem confrontational to them and may end in tears.

It may also be advisable to get hold of an assistant. Someone with doggy treats and able to organise a situation while you focus on taking pictures can be a Godsend.


As with all photography, a good source of illumination is the key to snapping a great shot. Natural light is always best as it produces a much software and warmer look. But, if the weather conspires against you then consider shooting next to a window indoors. Having good light is even more important when you are shooting a subject likely to move suddenly (like your dog!). More light means that the shutter will be open for less time. That in turn means less blurring

Location and background

When looking for a suitable location to photograph your dog, consider the background. This needs to be as clutter free as you can find and try to avoid any unwanted distractions for your dog. Some experts suggest using a mottled drape over a chair if indoors, as long as it is muted and so won’t distract from the subject.

Get personal

Getting down to your dogs level makes for a more intimate shot. Try kneeling or even laying on the floor propped up on your elbows to get a real connection with them in the photo. Focus on their eyes. It's often said that eyes are windows to the soule and with the eyes in focus almost any other part can be soft or blurred without it detracting from the shot.

Framing and timing

When framing your animal, try to come down to their level and not just shoot from a standing position. This way you stand a better chance of getting the true personality of your dog on camera.

Choosing a time when your dog is relaxed and calm is key to getting the best photo. If he has a tendency to be hyperactive at any time of the day, then avoid it. Your dog needs to be in the right mood!

Action shots

If you want an action shot, the best likely time to achieve this is during their walk. A calm portrait could be best when your animal is tired – perhaps after a walk in fact! If your dog becomes uncooperative, stop the shoot and wait for a better time.

Action shots may require you to adjust the cameras shutter speed to get a sharper image. This can be done in your settings.

Auto focus and depth of field

One of the key things to remember in dog photography is focusing on your dog’s eyes. This is where you will find the true personality of your animal and it will shine through in the shot. It is easiest to achieve this with your auto focus on.

If you want to be a little more creative then try adjusting your depth of field (DOF).

Depth of field, in simple terms, is the amount of distance between the nearest and furthest objects that appear sharply in focus in the shot. By altering your depth of field (your camera’s aperture setting) you can achieve some fantastic results.

The key thing is to achieve a shot that captures your dog’s personality. That will ensure the photograph is one to frame.

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