Seeing & Looking
Pic Your Pup l 7 Ideas for Photographing Your Dog l Jim Austin Jimages.com
1 Game Time: Catch her at Play
2 All Eyes: Get Closer
3 Go High, Go Low: Choose a Better Angle
4 Story: Tell a Tail in Just One Shot
5 Emotion: Show How Others Feel about Him
6 Water Everywhere: Get Them Wet
7 Contrast: Try Light and Dark Backgrounds
With my basenji Shanti leading the way, I'll share seven ideas you can use to take fun photos of your dogs.
ONE: Game Time
One of my dog's favorite games is catch the ol' tennis ball. For this portrait of her wearing her life jacket, I threw the ball high many times, and tried to release the shutter just before the tennis ball came into the frame.
TWO: All Eyes
Most iPhones, iPhone Pro models, mirrorless cameras and large sensor cameras have close-up or macro settings. For instance, the macro mode may look like a flower on your camera Mode Dial. Some cameras have 'macro' on the lens or Mode Dial. Try Macro shots of your dogs eyes by manually focusing your camera lens if possible. Turn the focusing ring on the lens to the closest focusing distance, then move to get closer to your dogs eyes. Or, use the macro setting on your camera phone or an inexpensive clip on lens for your iPhone 12. Getting close in works a lot better after a romp walk, or when your companion is a bit tired. Your dogs eyes are the window to their soul.
THREE: Different Angles
Shanti, my basenji, is a hunting dog. She adores chasing crabs in the sand. She not only hears them a couple feet down, but can smell them when she get close by digging furiously with both paws through soft sand. It was fun to lie on the beach and catch her expression as she was joyously digging crabs. My point: for dog action pictures, try low and high angles to catch your pup doing something they love.
FOUR: Tell The Story
A story and a moment make a picture stronger. Thinking of unusual camera positions, I often imagine my camera phone as a 3D spaceship. Instead of keeping it on the launch pad for a standard eye level landscape shot, I will 'fly' it around to get a 'feel' for how the light changes. The idea is to portrait your dog's character or a story idea. For this tender training moment between two best friends, the shadow knows.
We were walking our dog in Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera, Bahamas, just as church school let out for recess. Shanti, irresistibly, always runs to greet kids with a bright, clear, joyful enthusiasm. What is an dominant emotion your dog expresses clearly, and how can you photograph that feeling?
SIX: Wet Dog, Dry Camera
Got a dog that loves the water? Go for it. For this shot, we tossed a homemade rope toy out into the water from our boat. Our Corgie loved the game and the two leggeds and four leggeds all got cooled off on a hot day. A water resistant camera is a useful tool to have when you get wet, and remember to dry your camera thoroughly after you shoot. Camera's are precision instruments and last longer if they avoid getting too wet or overheated.
SEVEN: Contrasting Backgrounds
To help your dog stand out, choose a background that's the opposite tone of your dog. I like to use light toned backgrounds for my dark dog, and I choose darker backgrounds when I'm hired to photograph lighter dogs. Also, think about the shape of your dog against that background. BONUS IDEA: In closing, there are superb images of dogs photographed in black and white, so try a B/W setting on your camera and see what you think.
Special Thanks: The author is grateful to Teresa J. Rhyne, #1 NYT Bestselling Author of The Dog Lived (and So Will I): A Memoir and host of the Dogs and Books Facebook Page, for her inspiration to go deeper into helpful tips for dog lovers.
Photos and Writings by Jim Austin Jimages