Take Way Better Photos of Your Dog
10 tips from photographer Grace Chon that will drastically improve your dog photos
Ah, the quest for great photos of your dog, ones that capture just how adorable/goofy/sage/busy/sleepy/loved he is. Your dog, needless to say, is super photogenic, but, if you’re like most of us, attempts to capture those good looks on camera are often bedeviled by poor lighting, a cluttered background, and blurred motion. We asked the super-talented Grace Chon, an LA-based animal, lifestyle, and celebrity photographer, for 10 tips to drastically improve your dog photos. Get ready to wow your Facebook and Instagram followers with some really cute shots!
1 Follow the Light
“Always shoot where you get the best light. Usually this ends up being with your dog facing a window, which I like to call ‘glamour lighting’ because your dog ends up being evenly lit in the front and the background can drop off into darkness. Natural light is always much more important than location! If your place is nice and bright, try to keep indoor lights off to avoid having a sickly yellow colour-cast to your images.”
2 Models Like to Eat. Really.
“Forget dry dog biscuits! Use high reward treats like dehydrated meat snacks or boiled chicken breast. Always reward positive behaviour like sitting still or looking directly into the lens and give small morsels to keep the shoot fun and your pup motivated and engaged. Treats are great for controlling eye line too—hold it where you’d like your pup to be looking in the shot, and after a few frames pay your model for his hard work with a tasty bite. If you want your dog to look into the lens, hold the treat right above the camera lens. If you want him looking above or out of the frame, hold the treat where his eyes should be.”
3 Make Some Noise
“To get shots of those adorable head tilts and perked up ears, try making some funny sounds to get your dog’s attention. The trick is to make each sound sparingly and move onto the next one once your dog grows tired of it because new sounds get old really fast. Other things you can use are whistles, kazoos, crinkly plastic bags, and squeaky toys. You can also try saying your dog’s favourite words. Some sweet-talking might get you some irresistible looks.”
4 Shoot Fast and Furious
“Be sure to take lots and lots of frames. That way you can be sure to capture a shot that’s in focus and with your dog looking where you want, doing what you want. And when you shoot a lot of frames, you end up getting images that you never could have thought of shooting. Amazing moments happen in a fraction of a second!”
5 Change Your View
“Try seeing your dog from a completely different angle. Have them lounge on a chair and photograph them from below. Try laying down in the grass and shoot up at your dog. If you try to see their world from a completely different view, you’ll end up with creative and interesting shots that tell your dog’s story from an unusual perspective.”
6 Use Props
“Add fun flair to your shots by using toys and other props. Get creative with things like a pair of 70s sunglasses, a sun hat, or maybe a heart-shaped helium balloon tied to your dog’s collar. If sweet and silly isn’t your style, you can incorporate more meaningful props like your dog’s favourite toy, or select props that tell your dog’s story. If your dog likes swimming, try taking a shot with her wearing an inflatable water ring around her waist.”
7 A Meaningful Spot
“It’s always extra special if you can shoot in your dog’s favourite location. Maybe this is their favourite chair, riding shotgun in your car, or at a local park. Not only will she be happy and relaxed, you’ll capture moments that memorialize her in a place that’s special to you both.”
8 Up Close and Personal
“Don’t forget to take detail shots! Shoot a close up of your dog’s nose or a close up of fur. Take a photo of her paw pads, or the curves of velvety ears. Remember all the little details that make up your dog and photograph all the special places you love to kiss and adore. Even shots of their dog bowls, collars, and leashes will someday make a very special memory.”
9 Stage your Shot
“Home staging can make your photos look polished and professional. Be sure to de-clutter the background and bring in props like colourful pillows, a sheepskin rug or fresh flowers to create a shot that looks stylish and finished. You can add some extra whimsy by decorating with pennant banners, paper garlands, confetti, and balloons. It always helps to have some colour coordination, so if your dog’s collar or toys can coordinate with the decorations in your home, you’ll look like you had an art director help you get the shot.”
10 It’s Peanut Butter Time!
“If you want to end up with a truly hilarious set of photos, give your dog a small lick of peanut butter and snap away. (Be sure to start with a small amount so your dog doesn’t get an upset stomach and use unsalted peanut butter.) You’re guaranteed to get funny photos of your dog’s tongue doing tricks you never could have imagined.”