Facts about the animal kingdom

How to Take Beautiful Dog Photos

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. April 9, 2024
How to Take Beautiful Dog Photos

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Those who share their lives with a dog understand the endless opportunities they provide for heartwarming photos. Whether armed with a professional DSLR or relying on a trusted smartphone, the temptation to capture their playful antics and tender moments is irresistible. However, unlike human models, dogs don't always comply with direction. From achieving sharp focus on your dog while creating a blurred background for a portrait effect to capturing the perfect action shot of a mid-air fetch leap, bringing those stunning dog photos seen online into reality can be more challenging than expected.

This guide from AnimalWised equips you with essential tips and tricks to capture amazing photos of your dog.

You may also be interested in: 10 Most Beautiful Animals in the World

Gear and equipment

Professional equipment

A DSLR or mirrorless camera with manual controls (shutter speed, aperture, ISO) offers greater flexibility in capturing action shots and low-light situations.

A fast lens (wide aperture like f/2.8 or lower) allows for capturing sharp images in low light and blurring the background for portrait-style shots. Zoom lenses provide versatility for framing close-ups and wider shots, while prime lenses (fixed focal length) offer superior image quality and low-light performance.

Beyond the core camera gear, consider investing in accessories that can significantly enhance your dog photography experience. Two key additions are:

  • Tripod: a tripod provides rock-solid stability for capturing sharp images in low light situations or with slow shutter speeds. This is ideal for action shots where you need to keep the camera perfectly still, or for capturing self-portraits with your furry friend without camera shake.

  • Remote trigger: a remote trigger minimizes camera shake by allowing you to trigger the shutter remotely, especially helpful for capturing photos of shy or easily startled dogs. This way, you can avoid startling them with the click of the shutter button and get those candid moments you crave.

Smartphone equipment

In recent years, smartphones have become incredibly powerful camera tools, and for most dog owners, they're the most readily available option. Unlike professional cameras, your smartphone is always with you, making it the perfect tool to capture those very spontaneous moments of dog cuteness.

Here are some tips and tricks to consider:

  • Many smartphones offer advanced camera apps with features like portrait mode and burst mode, perfect for capturing action shots. Explore the app's features to unlock its full potential.

  • With editing apps readily available on your phone, you can enhance your dog photos on the spot, adjusting factors like brightness, contrast, and color. Many free and paid apps offer a variety of editing tools and filters to personalize your photos.

Ever wonder why your dog's eyes glow in the dark and even in photos? Unravel the science behind this fascinating phenomenon in our other article.

How to Take Beautiful Dog Photos - Gear and equipment

Tips and tricks for photographing dogs

1. Be ready to shoot:

Unlike human models, dogs don't hold poses for long. Always have your camera set and ready to go. Depending on your desired outcome (portraits, action shots, etc.), adjust your camera settings beforehand to optimize capture.

2. See the world through their eyes:

The most captivating dog portraits are often taken from their perspective. This fosters a more intimate connection and allows you to capture their curious gaze. Get down low, crouch, or even lie on the ground to achieve this perspective. However, experiment with different angles too! For close-up portraits, consider shooting slightly below your dog's eye level.

3. Find the right shooting distance

Finding the right shooting distance is crucial. Getting too close may intimidate your dog, leading to blurry photos due to them moving away. Conversely, excessive distance can make focusing on their eyes difficult, especially with longer snouts. Aim for a comfortable distance that keeps your dog relaxed and allows for sharp focus on their eyes.

4. Motivate your dog

Entice your dog with their favorite toy or a tasty treat. Wave it around the camera to grab their attention and elicit playful expressions. This creates a positive association with the camera and encourages fun interactions during the shoot. Alternatively, make funny noises or use an object to capture surprised expressions. If your dog is trained, use commands like "sit," "stay," or "paw" to capture specific moments.

5. Embrace natural light

Natural light is your best friend for flattering dog portraits. Early mornings and late afternoons often offer the softest, most diffused light. If shooting indoors, position yourself near a window or other natural light source. However, avoid harsh shadows by diffusing the light source, like using a white sheet or diffuser attachment. For darker-colored dogs, soft morning or twilight light can create stunning portraits.

How to Take Beautiful Dog Photos - Tips and tricks for photographing dogs

6. Respect your dog’s limits

Dog photography is about capturing their natural personalities, not forcing poses. If they appear stressed or restless, take a break and resume the session later. Be patient, let them play and explore, and be ready to capture those spontaneous moments of joy and goofiness.

7. Minimize the use of flash

This one might seem obvious but flash photography can be startling for dogs and often results in red-eye. Focus on natural light for a more pleasant experience and aesthetically pleasing shots.

8. Embrace the close-up

Take a deep dive into your dog's personality by focusing on specific body parts. What makes your pup special? Is it their soulful eyes with flecks of gold or amber? The perfectly sculpted curve of their nose? Or maybe your puppy's hilariously oversized paws that will surely grow into them someday? To achieve stunning close-up shots, utilize a macro lens on your DSLR camera. If you're using a smartphone, activate the macro mode on your camera app. This allows you to get incredibly close to your subject without losing focus, resulting in crisp, detailed photos.

9. Try taking dynamic photos

There is nothing quite like capturing a moment of your dog doing what they love. However, there are some considerations to be aware of. Make sure the photos are taking place in a leashed or fenced area for dogs. Enlist a friend to position your dog in a "sit-stay" 40 yards away, then lie on the ground for a unique perspective. Use burst mode on camera/phone to capture multiple frames. Be patient, experiment with angles, and have fun!

10. Follow the rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is a fundamental composition principle used in photography and cinematography. It helps create visually balanced and engaging images by guiding where to place the subject within the frame. Visualize your camera frame divided into a 3x3 grid, creating nine equal squares with four intersecting points in the center. Instead of placing your dog directly in the center of the frame, position them, so their eyes fall on one of the four intersecting points. This creates a more dynamic composition that draws the viewer's eye into the photo.

Want to capture even more captivating photos of your well-behaved pup? Check out our guide on obedience training for dogs!

How to Take Beautiful Dog Photos -

If you want to read similar articles to How to Take Beautiful Dog Photos, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

How to Take Beautiful Dog Photos photos

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How to Take Beautiful Dog Photos