Thursday, February 3, 2011


How to Photograph Your Dog

As a professional animal lifestyle photographer I get asked all the time by fellow dog owners what is the best way to get good photos of their dogs. I always reply that they should hire me. All kidding aside, you should be able to get fresh fun photos of your dog by following these five simple tips.

Get Ready-

Know your camera. Today’s camera manufacturers have made it wonderfully easy for anyone to be able to take incredible images. Think of how much better your images would be if you took the time to learn about your camera’s capabilities. Even the simplest point and shoot camera offer features that were unheard of before the advent of digital photography. Make sure your dog is clean and groomed so he will look his best. Unless you’re going for the “My dog is covered in mud, isn’t that funny?” shot.

Get Help - 

Even I have trouble photographing a dog without a helper. A dog naturally wants to be with you and unless they are extremely well trained, (mine are not) they will keep coming towards you. You are going to want a helper for the dog to focus on instead of you. Load your helper up with treats and make sure the dog knows your helper has them. Your helper should give the commands which allows you up to get the shot with out your dog continually running up to lick you and your camera.

Get Lit -

The best times of day to photograph your dog or just about anything else for that matter is early morning or later afternoon/evening. The sun is lower in the sky at these times and the effect of sunrise or sunset can make an ordinary image outstanding. Following Kipling’s old adage that only "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun" try to avoid the hours between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. The harsh shadows caused by the full suns rays are hard to avoid. If you must shoot during these hours try to place the dog in the edge of a large shady area as to soften and diffuse the light. Try to shoot with the sun behind and just to the left or right of your shoulder. Have your dog turn his head or position him so that he is looking into the light to avoid harsh shadows.

Get Low -

My favorite images are taken at a low angle. I like to get right down on the ground and shoot up at the dog. This angle makes the dog look larger than life and even a bit heroic. Experiment with different angles. Sometime I climb up high and shoot right down on a dog for a different feel.

Get Moving -
Or I should say, get the dog moving. You can never go wrong with action shots. Dogs running, playing, and chasing are always more interesting to me than a dog sitting still. Have you helper throw a ball that the dog can chase or have your helper release the dog and then call it to you. Shoot quick, before he reaches you. You will be thrilled by the fun shots you get.

And finally,  Get Going!

Barbara O’Brien in a Professional Animal Lifestyle Photographer based in Stockholm, Wisconsin. Her work can be seen at

all images © 2011Barbara O'Brien Photography Barbara O'Brien Photography is located at White Robin Farm in the beautiful rolling hills of western Wisconsin. Images are available for reproduction. Please e-mail or call with intended usage, size of print run, distribution. Barbara O'Brien Photography 612 812 8788 cell 715 448 3456 home

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice work and good advice. Thank you.