One big positive to come from the recent Covid-19 restrictions is we’ve been blessed with plenty of extra time with our beloved dogs. They really are part of our families, and as such, we often take photos of them along with our children and relatives. Here at Ash Tree, we love to see your pet photos, and so we’ve teamed up with local photographer, Louisa French, who has given us her ten top tips for capturing better photos of your dog during this lockdown.
Tip 1 – Look for great light
Light is the most important factor in getting a great photograph of your dog. Contrary to popular belief, bright sunlight is not ideal for portraits, but you still want enough light so your photo isn’t too dark. The trick is to get your dog in a bright area but not in direct sunlight. If you’re outside, see if you can find a shady spot (under a tree for example) and sit your dog down facing out towards the sunlight. If you’re indoors, sitting your dog facing a window is ideal.
Tip 2 – Perspective
Getting down to your dog’s level will make a real difference to your shot. You want to take your photograph right right down at their level, so you are shooting horizontally towards them along the floor and not from your chest height. Likewise, photographing your dog from above works well too, particularly if you have a small dog, as it gives a perspective of their size. Hold your photo or camera right above them and shoot down towards the top of their head. It works best with the dog looking up at the camera!
Tip 3 – Focus properly
Making sure your photo is focused on your dog is really important. Taking a beautiful shot with a blurry dog and the background in focus won’t work! If you are using a smartphone, just tap the screen on the dog’s eye to focus the shot. If you’re using a camera, make sure the focus square icon in the viewfinder is over your dog’s eye before you take the photo.
Tip 4 – Switch off the flash
An automatic flash will give your dog glowing red eyes, so make sure you turn it off. If your photo is too dark, instead, see if you can reposition your dog facing towards the light of a window or the sun if you’re outside.
Tip 5 – Look at the camera
Dog’s don’t know they need to look at the camera like we do, so we need to give them a focus point to look at. My top tip is to hold your dog’s favourite toy or a treat right up next to your camera or phone to ensure your dog looks right at it!
Tip 6 – Framing
Pay attention to what’s in the background of your photograph. A perfect shot of your dog can be ruined by a pile of dirty washing or a dog poo bin in the background! Great photos often use what’s called ‘framing’ to draw your eye to the dog itself. This is literally when the photographer uses the background of the photograph like a photo frame to surround the subject.
Tip 7 – Move away from the background
Try and get the largest possible distance between your dog and the background of your photo to help your dog ‘stand out’ from the things behind him. If you’re using a DSLR camera, put it on aperture priority mode (or portrait mode). Some smartphones have this option too and will automatically make your background nice and blurry.
Tip 8 – Reward good behaviour
Give them a treat if they sit still and look at your camera. The more you reward the behaviour you want, the more likely they are to repeat it next time you want to take a great photo of your dog!
Tip 9 – Wait for the right moment
Waiting for the exact right moment when photographing your dog will help get the perfect shot. This is particularly important when photographing a moving dog! If your pet is running towards you, and you take the photo too soon, your dog will appear as a small dot in the distance. Again if you take it too late, you’ll cut off their paws or the top of their head! Waiting until your dog is in the right spot is key! If your camera or smartphone has a ‘burst’ or ‘continuous’ shoot mode, this is a great option for a moving subject. It allows you to take a series of still photos continuously as your dog runs towards you.
Tip 10 – Be patient and make it fun!
I work with children and animals all the time and one thing is always true – you need to be patient to get a great shot! Remember, your dog doesn’t know how to pose for a photograph, you’ve got to teach him! Making it fun will be rewarding for you and your dog, as well as ensuring he stays focused on you rather than padding off to sniff something else!
Louisa is a Newmarket-based portrait photographer working in and around East Anglia. She regularly photographs families and businesses and you can see more of here work at www.louisafrenchphotography.com