This goes without saying, but dogs pick up on your vibe, so first make sure you’re experiencing the adventure as well! This will surely translate into your photo. Take some time to enjoy and study where you are and what you want to capture. Make the camera time a happy time linked to good experiences, lots of attention, pets and treats!
Get down on your dogs’ level, even if that means lying on your stomach. See the world like they see it! You’ll get a different perspective and you’ll also show your dog in their environment much better. I find I connect better with them that way.
A beautiful scenery is wonderful, but how about trying to capture what that landscape means to you, or to your family? If you have another family member with you, canine, or human or otherwise, see if you can capture a moment in a conversation or moment between them.
Find the light! Sunrise and sunset are typically the best times to take photos, but there are also lots of other ways to get around, or work with harsh lighting and shadows. Shoot backlit, or in the shadows of a hot day. Perhaps shoot the shadows themselves, or in a dark environment, try some light painting or embrace the blur!
Taking photos of dogs, especially puppies, is like taking photos of toddlers that can run faster than an Olympic sprinter. Don’t chase them, just take your time and promote a relaxed and fun environment. Capture the moments that happen naturally, catch them exploring a new environment, or resting in front of a beautiful view.
There are posed shots, or shots that you have in mind, and then there are the photos getting to that point and the photos after the “shot” in mind. Those in-between shots can be the best ones, the most candid. Keep shooting after your dog gets up, or while they walk over to you, or away from you.
Cloudy and Rainy days
While it’s always comfortable on a bright sunny day, cloudy and rainy days can work best for photos. Dogs are not squinting, the light is magnificent with little contrast in the fur, and it’s almost as if you are in a softbox wherever you go! Don’t stay inside when there’s a light rain either! Lots of my favorite shots are in the rain and fog, and if I never went outside on a rainy day, well...I would have a hard time living in a temperate rainforest 🙂
While not necessary, a good “stay” is very helpful for photos, sometimes even just for that extra second to focus your camera or re-frame a shot. I use treats a lot to guide the eye line, sometimes I’ll just use a pebble or a stick in a pinch.
Don’t force it
We take our best photos when Whiskey wants to take photos. Sometimes Whiskey just wants to run around and sniff things, or other times she just isn’t in the mood. Never put your dog in a place they are scared or would never go on their own ability, if your dog isn’t happy and comfortable, it will show. There’s no point in trying to force a “candid” shot. Put away the camera and enjoy the landscape.