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The Definitive Guide to Dog Photography

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Guide to Dog Photography

Dogs are a photographer’s best friend. They’re cute, they’re fun to be around and they can be totally camera-shy or willing to pose for the camera (depending on their personality). If you have a dog, why not learn how to take photos of them? It’s not as hard as it first sounds—just follow these tips.

Use a wide lens to get close up.

If you want to capture the full body of your dog, use a wide lens. A wide-angle lens allows you to get close to your subject, which will give you more space in the frame and allow for a more flattering portrait. The wider the lens is (such as 24mm or 28mm), the closer it will allow you to get.

If your subject is close enough that they’re filling up too much of your image, zoom out by using longer focal length lenses such as 50mm or 70mm.

Use treats and toys.

  • Treats and toys are great ways to get a dog’s attention. If you have a treat, try showing it to the dog, then taking it away and putting it on the ground so he will go get it. This can help you get photos of how your dog looks when he is getting something that he wants very badly.
  • Treats can also be used to train dogs to do tricks for the camera, like sit or stay still while you take his picture.
  • Dogs love toys! So if your camera isn’t working for some reason (like if one of your lenses fell off), try playing with him with one of his favorite toys until someone else comes along who can take better pictures or until someone fixes whatever happened with the camera so that you can start using it again.

Always photograph from the dog’s level.

  • Always photograph from the dog’s level.
  • Get down on the ground and photograph from the dog’s level. This will help you get a more natural photo and it will also show off their paws if they’re standing up or sitting down. If you’re not comfortable getting on your hands and knees, use a tripod so that your camera is steady while you take photos of them at eye level.

Don’t let your subject get bored.

It’s always best to have your dog interact with you. Dogs get bored very quickly, so if you’re taking photos of your dog, keep that in mind. You should be interacting with them every step of the way!

Here are some ways you can interact with your dog:

  • Give them treats! Most dogs love food and will do just about anything to get it.
  • Play games like hide-and-seek or fetch with them. These games will help keep their minds active and engaged as well as give you something fun to do together!
  • Take lots of naps together (yes—it counts). If nothing else is working for either one of us at any given time during our photo shoot session then I’ll always suggest we take a nap together right then and there on our bed before things get too stressful (that never happens though because I’m such an expert at photographing dogs!).

Get the dog to look at you by looking at something he is interested in.

If you want your dog to look at you when he is in the studio, get him interested in something else first. Show him a toy or treat, and then turn around and look at it with big eyes and a big smile on your face. This will encourage him to follow your gaze so that he can see what you’re looking at. Once he’s locked eyes with you, quickly bring out another treat/toy or make fake movements towards one while saying “Look!” The key here is not to say “LOOK” until they’ve already locked eyes with you; otherwise they might instinctually respond by turning away from where they were looking before.

Use fast shutter speed for action shots and slow shutter speed for portraits.

The shutter speed setting on your camera determines how long it takes for light to pass through the lens and strike the sensor. A fast shutter speed means that the light passes through quickly, while a slow shutter speed means that it passes through more slowly. For example, if you’re taking photos of dogs playing frisbee in a park and you want to freeze their motion in time, use a fast shutter speed (1/500th or higher).

If you’re taking photos of dogs sitting still on grassy fields with soft sunlight filtering down into their eyes—in other words, portrait-style shots—then set your camera to a slower shutter speed (1/30th or lower).

Expect that most of your photos won’t be great, but a few will be fabulous.

There are two kinds of dog photographers: those who take a lot of photos and get some good ones, and those who take only one or two shots and get a great one.

To be honest, it’s hard to tell which kind you are until you start taking pictures. One thing I’ve learned from working with dogs is that they’re not always as cooperative as we’d like them to be. It’s easy to blame the dog because he didn’t cooperate with us on the shoot, but really it could just be that he doesn’t want his picture taken at all!

Capture the moment and authenticity.

  • Capture the moment.
  • Don’t try to make your dog look like something it isn’t. If your dog is a shy and gentle lab, you can certainly take photos of her curled up on the couch with a book. But if she likes to jump around and play with sticks, go for that!
  • Don’t try to get a perfect shot. It’s important not to get stuck trying too hard when photographing your pet—sometimes, the best shots are taken by accident as opposed to being pre-planned and staged. For example, if you have an energetic dog who loves playing fetch but hates having his photo taken (and thus refuses to sit still), he may run away from the camera when he spots it in your hands—and end up looking even cuter than if he’d cooperated!
  • Don’t be afraid of experimenting with different angles or lighting conditions—or even props! You never know what might work until you try it out; just be sure not

to distract your subject while doing so (try snapping quick bursts).

You can take your own dog photos with good equipment, a little patience and some good advice.

You can take your own dog photos with good equipment, a little patience and some good advice.

  • Camera. You’ll want to shoot with a digital SLR camera. The best cameras have built-in lenses that are fast (meaning they let in lots of light) and wide (meaning they capture more of the scene). If you’re using an older film camera, try using a wide-angle lens on it instead of trying to zoom in close on your subject; it will often result in sharper shots.
  • Lenses. A 50mm or longer lens is ideal for dogs—it allows you to get closer without getting too close for comfort so your subject doesn’t feel overwhelmed by being photographed by someone he doesn’t know well yet!
  • Treats/toys: Your dog isn’t going to sit still long enough for you to get him into position unless there’s something interesting nearby that he wants more than anything else at that moment (food). So if possible use treats or play time with toys as rewards when it’s time for him/her not only during photo shoots but also whenever taking pictures (e..g,. birthday parties too!).


The most important thing to remember when photographing your pet is that it’s supposed to be fun. If you’re having a good time, chances are your dog will too. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself; take some breaks if you need them and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Remember that practice makes perfect!

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