Photographing Man’s Best Friend!



Very excited here at Cameras and Cake as we introduce our very first guest blog from the lovely and very talented Penelope Malby.  Penelope spent many years working with animals as their trainer for TV and film productions and still runs regular training courses.  It means she knows a thing or two about taking great pictures of your pet pooch.  Enjoy – please email us some of your pics of your dogs!

Tina has very kindly asked me to write a little piece with some tips on taking better photos of your dog!  I’m based in Surrey and I’m an animal photographer www.penelopemalbyphotography.co.uk.  I photograph domestic pets like dogs and cats, as well as wildlife and birds.

Although I have a studio and do a lot of sessions there, I still take photos of dogs outdoors too, in a more natural environment.

So here’s my top tips for photographing your dog!

  • Preparation is the key!  If you’re well prepared things will be much easier.  If your dog knows what “stay” means and he can stay without a lead attached to his collar, that will look loads better in the photos.  So practice “stay” in the garden,  using treats to reward your dog for staying, so your dog begins to know what you want him to do.
  • Think about the kind of shots you’d like to end up with.  If you want a photo with spring flowers in the background, find a place that is perfect, that is safe to have your dog off lead, and go there without your dog to do a few test shots.  Go at the same time of day as well so you know where the light will be – it’s best if the sun is behind you.  Open spaces like parks or beaches have better natural light than woods, or built up areas. It doesn’t need to be a sunny day (in fact that can sometimes be a problem with squinty eyes), but obviously don’t go on a rainy day!
  •  I like to have the dog a good distance from the background, so the background is nicely blurry.  If you’re using a DSLR, put the camera onto Portrait mode so that the f number or aperture is something like 5.6, 6.3 or 7.1.
  • You want this experience to be fun for your dog, otherwise it will show in the photos.  If you’re constantly commanding “Stay” and “Sit” at your dog, your dog will look sad and worried.  I always use toys and treats to get the dog in the right mood, and ask another family member or friend who knows the dog, to help you, so you can take the photos, and someone else can get the dog in the right position.
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Tip #1

Preparation is the key
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If you’re well prepared things will be much easier.
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Tip #2

Plan your shots
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Think about the kind of shots you’d like to end up with
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Tip #3

Keep your distance
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I like to have the dog a good distance from the background, so the background is nicely blurry.
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Tip # 4

Get down to the dogs eye level
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This is really important. Getting down to the dog’s level is probably the best piece of advice I can give you.
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Tip #5

Attract the dog's attention
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Press the shutter when you have their attention.
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Tip #6

Start off simple
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Make sure your focus point is on the dog’s eyes, not the nose.
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Tip #7

Take lots of photos
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Take more than you think you need to.
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Tip #8

Go for mono
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Sometimes a black and white portrait can be just as striking.
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My attempt!

The owner helped out
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We popped her inot some overhead shade with a distance from the background and held treats up to get her attention. Isn't she adorable!

 

So now you’ve already done your test shots,  you’ve sorted out your camera settings,  now it’s time to take your dog to the location, with your helper, the yummy  treats and the toys.

  • Your helper is going to get the dog in the right place and ask them to sit and stay, and you will need to squat or kneel down (depending on how big or small your dog is) so that you’re at the dog’s eye level.

This is really important.  Getting down to the dog’s level is probably the best piece of advice I can give you.

  •  When the dog is ready, and you’re ready – make a little noise to get the dog’s attention.  That’s when you press the shutter button.
  •   Start off with just a simple portrait shot, and make sure your focus point is on the dog’s eyes, not the nose.  This can be tricky at first so make sure you take lots of shots and check on the screen on the back of the camera by zooming in, that your shot is focusing on the right place.

Once you’re happy with this, then try other poses, try with the dog laying down, standing up,  or profile shots.  If you’re feeling up for a challenge how about an action shot?  If your dog loves jumping in muddy puddles then take some shots of them doing this! It will be even more memorable than a portrait shot because it’s what your dog loves doing!  Make sure your shutter speed is high, or set your camera to Sports mode for a running shot, and if there’s water involved don’t get too close with your camera!

  •  Always take more photos than you think you will need.  It’s far better to have loads that you can delete, than not to have enough!
  •  Try converting the photos into black and white.  Black and white is really classic and can look very striking.

 

Most of all have fun with your dog, and fun with your camera.  Happy moments captured on camera make wonderful memories!

If you’d like to see more of my work please do come and Like my facebook page

THANK YOU PENELOPE!

 I recently had an opportunity to have a little go at photographing this gorgeous pup recently!

 Please send us your pics once you have tried out Penelope’s tips and we’ll post some onto facebook

 

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