Who isn’t obsessed with taking and looking at pictures of dogs? I swear my phone is nothing more than a portable photo album of my two pooches. Not only do I feel the need to scroll through my camera roll and show off my dogs to just about everyone I meet, I also have an entire Instagram page to show off my fur kids. Don’t judge! While any snapshot of a canine cutie is awe-worthy, there are some tricks that can transform your dog photography from ordinary to extraordinary. That’s why I turned to my good friend and professional photographer Sam. She’s a Philadelphia-based engagement/wedding/portrait photographer and the owner of Peaberry Photography. During her photoshoots, her clients often bring along their four-legged kids (who winds up stealing the show)!
Sam has some amazing tips for all of us dog parents looking to take professional-looking photos – no matter what type of camera we’re using. Along with reading through this informative Q&A, don’t forget to connect with Sam on Instagram and Facebook!
Q: What Are The Biggest Challenges You Run Into When Photographing Dogs
A: Movement! Dogs tend to be high-energy subjects. I always suggest a nice long walk, run, or game of fetch before bringing a dog along to a photography session. This helps tire them out and relax a bit.
Q: What Are Some Tricks To Make a Dog Feel Comfortable In Front Of The Camera
A: Treats and toys! I like to hold a toy or treat in my hand just above my camera to create the illusion that they’re looking into my lens. Treats are also the perfect reward for their hard work on the shoot. Don’t forget to bring along some water too. Modeling is exhausting for people and pooches alike, it’s important to stay hydrated.
Q: What If You’re Working With A Dog Who Isn’t So Well Trained?
A: This is a great opportunity to get creative! When working with a dog that doesn’t know a lot of (or any) commands yet, the best approach is to just go with the flow and be patient. Dogs are naturally adorable. Even if you can’t get them to hold a specific pose, they’re bound to do something cute all on their own. You just have to be willing to wait for that moment of authentic cuteness to present itself and be ready to click the shutter.
Q: What Are Some Really Cool Angles For People To Try When Photographing Their Dog?
A: It’s always fun to get down on their level and kind of share their perspective.
Also, zooming in is a great way to be creative. Crop (zoom) in on their most adorable features like their nose, eyes, ears, paws — those make for super cute detail shots (de-TAIL hahahahahaha)
Q: What Should The Focus Be On When Photographing Your Dog To Capture The Most Engaging Photo?
A: When it comes to emotion and engagement, it’s all about the eyes. Whether it’s people or pooches, I always focus on the eyes as a good rule of thumb. Don’t be afraid to break the rules, though! Some of my favorite pet photos feature whiskers and noses as the point of focus.
Q: Do You Like To Use Props In Your Photos? If So, What Are Some Visually Engaging Prop Ideas?
A: If your dog has a toy that they absolutely love above any other toy, let them carry it for a few shots. Even if it’s torn and covered in slobber, they’ll be SO happy to have it and it will translate into the photos.
Q: What Are Some Fun & Unique Locations To Have A Dog Photoshoot?
A: The best/most comfortable locations are parks, open fields, or right in your own home or yard. Parks and fields offer a lot of space for dogs to explore and objects to interact with. On the other hand, they’re most comfortable right in their own home. Someplace unique and fun would be a lake or beach if they like the water, a dog park if they are especially social, or anyplace that makes their head tilt to the side in excitement when you say to them, “Wanna go to the ______?”
Q: How Do You Take An Extreme Closeup Of Your Dog (Because Every Whisker On His Face Is Just So Cute)?
A: I recommend zooming in rather than getting physically close. Creating some space between myself and the dog gives me a chance to snap a few frames before they notice what I’m doing and come investigate the situation! Once they start to approach me I shoot many rapid frames so I don’t miss a second of their curiosity.
Q: What Are Some Tips To Capture A Great Action Shot?
A: If you have a camera that allows you to control your shutter speed then shooting at a high (fast) shutter speed is the best way to freeze actions. I’d start at 1/250 of a second. If you’re using a camera phone then taking a burst of frames by holding down the shutter button can really come in handy to capture movement.
Q: What Type Of Lighting Is Best For Dog Photography?
A: My favorite time to shoot is during the two hours before sunset. That’s when the sun is nice and low and casts a golden glow. No matter what time of day, open shade is always a safe bet for nice even light.
Q: Can Someone Take Professional Looking Shots Of Their Dog With A Smartphone?
A: Yes! Smartphones take lovely photos these days. Lighting is the element that really makes or breaks a photo. Light quality > camera quality.
Q: What Are Some Phone Photography Tips You Can Offer Dog Moms?
A: Hold your breath. Seriously, holding your breath is a great way to reduce camera shake. Don’t be afraid to take several shots at a time and select the best one(s) later. My favorite app for editing on my phone is VSCO cam — It makes adjusting exposure and contrast a piece of cake and they have a lot of really beautiful filters. The most important rule with filters is you only get one… Don’t over do it. If you’re really serious about phoneography then PhotoJojo offers a lot of really amazing gadgets for stepping up your game! I love their magnetic phone lenses!
Finally, the most important part of any kind of photography, be patient and go with the flow.
A Little About Peaberry Photography
I’m Sam. I photograph couples in love, cute kids, fun families, senior’s graduating high school, and business professionals looking for headshots with some personality. If there is something majorly awesome in your life that you want to celebrate, I want to photograph it.
Peaberry Photography is based in Philadelphia, PA but I’m happy to travel for your event or portrait session if you’re not from around here. Half the fun of photography is exploring new, beautiful places with awesome people.