10 Tips For Taking Pictures Of Your dog

1. For portraits: Get closer.
When you think you’re close enough, cut that distance in half! Most “snapshots“ (not “photographs”) are taken from too far away. Consequently the features are too small and the picture lacks impact.

2. Eliminate distracting backgrounds.
A simple wall, or bed sheet backdrop, can dramatically improve your picture.

3. Avoid flash.
The light from camera-mounted flash units will flatten your dog’s features and may produce the dreaded “redeye” problem. Flash also produces nasty shadows on walls behind your dog. Indoor portraits taken using the light from a north-facing window can be spectacular. Add a reflective white surface, such as a piece of white cardboard, held just off camera can be used to bounce some light into the shadow side of your dog. You’ll need an assistant to hold the reflector while you see the results in your camera. Photographs taken outdoors in the shade often produce excellent results. An overcast day is often ideal. But remember that outdoors Fido might just take off after that squirrel rather than sit still for his portrait.

4. Whenever possible, use a tripod.
The professionals get better results because they can compose their images more precisely and can eliminate camera shake by using a tripod. Try getting down low – at your dog’s eye level – for a more “intimate” portrait. And try placing your dog off-center for a more dynamic portrait.

5. If you are using a digital camera remember to set the “white balance” to the appropriate light source.
If your pictures have an orange coloration to them when taken indoors it’s because the camera white balance was set to “daylight” rather than to “tungsten” (normal light bulbs). If you set the white balance to tungsten and then go outside to photograph your pictures will be too blue – switch back to “daylight” or “shade” etc. And consider converting your color images to black and white -- this can be very effective.

6. Experiment – zoom in and zoom out.
Most digital cameras have zoom lenses that can produce quite different results at various zoom settings. Typically a basic point-and-shoot camera has a 3x zoom lens. The best results are often (but not always) somewhere in the middle of the zoom range.

7. Take lots of pictures!
You wouldn’t expect to find the perfect shirt in a store that had only one to pick from. Take more pictures than you think you need; you can always delete the bad ones. I tell my students to take at least 30 images of everything - more if possible.

8. Always be ready!
Wonderful photographs can be made by capturing your dog doing something special, in unusual surroundings or with unusual lighting. Most of these pictures happen spontaneously so you have to be ready. Have your camera with you all the time and be ready for that special moment.

9. Know your dog!
Every dog (and every person) has a unique personality. Try to capture those moments when Fido is extra cute.

10. Dress up your best photos
Put your best photographs in white mattes that are at least 2 ½” wide (I make mine at least 3” on the top and sides and slightly larger on the bottom c. 3 ½”). You’ll be amazed how much better your images will look if they are presented in a professional manner.

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