15 Dog Photography Tips

Dog Photographer Rebecca Goutorbe

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Pet photography near me

Hi I am Rebecca an award winning professional photographer based in Matlock Derbyshire specialising in dog photography.
Here are 15 dog photography tips.
You can apply the tips to your own dog photography. When photographing either your own dogs, or clients dogs for private commissions.

Tip 1. Get down low

Get on a level with the dogs eyes. This will probably require you to kneel or lie down. If you are doing outdoor dog photography you will need to dress correctly as you may be lying down in mud! 

dog photography

Tip 2. Focus on the eyes

This tip is so important in dog photography to focus on the dogs eyes. The dogs eyes in your images need to be sharp and in focus.
Set your camera to just one single focus AF point.
Make sure the single focus point is on the dogs eye when you are focusing the camera on the dog.
A must in dog portrait photography. 

15 dog photography tips

Tip 3. Avoid midday sun

An outdoor dog photography tip here is to avoid midday sun. Especially when it is a hot summer day.
Doing an outdoor dog photo shoot out in the bright sun is the best way to ruin your photos. There will black shadows over the dogs on the photos.
Also the dogs will get too hot and start to pant. Your dog portraits may end up being stinky dog breath photography, rather than dog portrait photography. 

15 dog photography tips

Black dog

Black dogs with black fur or black hair is one of the hardest to photograph at the best of times.
At midday on a bright sunny day it will be hard for your camera to expose correctly for the black dog. You may end up with just a completely black dog on your images.  

Bonus tip

Black dog photography

When photographing a black dog outdoors, use covered shade so you will have even light. A nice cloudy day is perfect for dog photography portraits of black dogs.
A studio dog photography tip is that you will need two lights for black dogs. Especially if you are using a black background. One to light the dog and one to create separation between the black dog and the black background.

Tip 4. Use covered shade

Use covered shade for your dog photography portraits. Covered shade like the trees, or a the side of a building with a slight cover overhang. This will create even light over the dogs and your images will be much better quality.

15 dog photography tips

Tip 5. Think creatively

Try and be unique and creative with your dog photography, outdoor or studio. 
It is fine to copy other dog or pet photographers styles and ideas. But to set yourself apart you really need to be unique.
Underwater dog photography and black and white dog photography are a couple of dog photography ideas to try out.  

dog photography tips

Tip 6. Try to use natural light

When photographing dogs outdoors use natural light. This will be a lot easier than carrying around a flash, triggers, a light stand and a soft box.
Just go with your camera and lens.
Make the most of the available light.

15 dog photography tips

Tip 7. Use a fast shutter speed

Use a fast shutter speed for the action shots. Everyone always wants to know “what is the best lens for dog photography?”
The lens I mainly use for action shots is the Canon 70mm-200mm f2.8. I usually have the shutter speed set at around 1/1600 – 1/2000 of a second for action shots.
This usually gives me a good choice of shots to add the gallery of images I will be sending out. 

15 dog photography tips

Tip 8. Back button focusing

Set your camera to back button focusing. This will help with action shots or the running shots. Timing the shots will also help with getting those shots. You don’t need a 20 frames per second camera for action shots of dogs. Time the shot then hit the camera shutter button to take the photo.

15 dog photography tips

Tip 9. Choose a safe location

For outdoor dog photography choose a safe location with no distractions for the dogs. If there is water at the location be sure to get the pet portraits done first.
Most dogs love to dive in the water. You don’t want to be doing underwater dog photography before you have the dog portrait photography in the bag first. 

15 dog photography tips

Tip 10. Get the dogs attention

How you get the dogs attention will vary from the type of dogs you are photographing. 
Whether this is Working dogs, show dogs or pet dog.
You don’t get the attention of Working dogs or distract them while they are Working. 
Show dog owners usually have certain type of photograph of their dogs which they are looking for. 
This can be either a natural look, a show stance or a head shot. By squeaking toys or making a funny sound this will not create the right expression a show dog owner is looking for. 

15 dog photography tips

Tip 11. Understand the camera settings

Understand the settings on your camera.
This is going to really help you get the shots you need.
You will usually find your best shots are at the start of the photo shoot before the dog gets bored.
Knowing and understanding the settings on your camera will make dog photography easy for you.  

15 dog photography tips

Tip 12. Paint a wall

This a studio dog photography tip. Pick a colour and paint a wall as your back drop for studio dog photography. This will save you some money on backdrops, stands and studio equipment if you are wanting to try out studio dog photography.
Also great if you have a small space you would like to try out studio photography in. Backdrop stands can be a hazard especially with dogs chasing about.

pet studio dog photography tips

Tip 13. Include the owners

Make sure to include the dog owners in the photos you take. This works great with kids too. You can almost turn your dog photography into a family photo shoot and sell more prints and products. 
Dogs are part of the family.

Tip 14. Check your background

This tip will save you editing time. Be sure to check your background through your camera viewfinder whilst you are also focusing on the dog. Check for distractions within and around your image, like lamp posts, bins and signs.
It is amazing what appears through the view finder while you are photographing dogs. 

Tip 15. Use a photography website

The last dog photography tip number 15 is to use a Photography website.
This is the best dog photography tip I have ever had. It may sound crazy but I will explain why using a photography website for me was so important.

Official photographer for the Kennel Club Working Gundogs

By using a SmugMug website for my dog photography, I was asked back the following years to photograph the Gundogs.
I was asked back because of the simple fact that all the competitors from the KC event’s could easily view and buy photos online which I had taken, plus everyone liked me and my photos lol.
One thing leads to another and then begins to snowball. I became the Official photographer for the Kennel Club for 3 years. Which included photographing HM The Queen at The Cocker Spaniel Championship at the Sandringham estate for two days.
I was then asked to photograph other Gundog events where my images were then published on front covers and inside magazines.  

Guild Of Photographers

Once I joined The Guild Of Photographers the 24 images I submitted for my qualification panel were all from the Gundog events which I had photographed. 
Some of the images from the Championship events went into the IOM Image of the month competition with the Guild which made up my 24 images for The Photographers Bar.

Photo sharing website

I use my SmugMug website to send out client galleries from, this is a really handy feature for sharing photos to magazines too. This is because they can download the images easily to do their mockup pages before they decide which image they would like to use.
I also store all my photos in the unlimited photo storage which SmugMug provide and I have my photography portfolio displayed online on a SmugMug website.

Dog photography website

Like everything in life you need to start somewhere. Start your dog photography with a SmugMug website, store, share and sell your dog images online. I have SmugMug YouTube tutorials including setting up your price list and more videos coming. Plus more dog photography tips coming on YouTube

Step by step guide how to build a photography portfolio website using a free template

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