I’ll admit it. The majority of the pictures on my cell phone and camera are of my dogs. I even find that I can take virtually the same picture over and over because Linus looks so darn cute curled up sleeping and I don’t remember that I already have about 10 other pictures of him curled up and sleeping. Heck, even my Facebook profile picture is of my dog. Does this sound familiar??
We all like to show off pictures of our loved ones, and of course our Springers are no exception! Our dogs are in many ways like our children; for some of us they are the only children that we have. Whether the dog is a permanent or just a temporary member of our family, of course we know how good-looking s/he is, and we want others to see that beauty, too, just as if the dog were a child. We want to show off how proud we are as parents and/or foster parents.
So… what’s the secret to a great picture of your dog?
Here’s the “Top 10” List of Dog Picture Tips courtesy of one of our ESRA Coordinators who took the pictures of my Linus on this blog.
- You don’t need an expensive camera but equipment is important.
Make sure you have your camera batteries charged fully, turn off all date stamp features, and set your camera on the highest resolution possible. Photographs that exceed 3000 x 2000 pixels in size are superb for clarity and alteration. The absolute minimum should be 1600 x 1200. Date stamps detract from the photo for a variety of reasons, too. Phones take an ok pictures but could not be enlarged or printed with much success. Nothing replaces a real camera. Even a simple pocket point-and-shoot digital camera will often deliver photos superior to those of a smartphone.
- Location Location Location.
Springers look beautiful in the great outdoors. Pick a beautiful background. Springers look wonderful just sitting in front of a beautiful pot of pansies or lots of fallen leaves behind them. Even just beautiful green grass is wonderful! The prettiest backgrounds are often those that are soft and lush.
3. It’s time to get down on your dog’s level.
Sit down on the ground while you’re taking photos to get the best angle of your dog.
4. The squeaky toy gets the dog’s attention… and great Springer expressions.
Make noises or have a toy that squeaks that will get the dog’s attention. My favorites are when their head is cocked, or ears perked up when they’ll hear an interesting sound and are curious. In a pinch you could even have something to toss in the air.
5. Lighting is always much better outdoors and solves the “red eye” problem.
Late afternoon light is best, as it’s very soft. Noon lighting is way too strong and can wash out the dog. Sunny days are always the best vs. cloudy gray days for better lighting. Always make sure the sun is BEHIND you and avoid taking pics in the shade. Shade is nice, especially on a hot day, but not ideal for picture taking
6. A good time for a retractable leash.
Use a retractable leash (preferably black so it doesn’t show up in the pics). Tie them to a tree or some other fixed object, unless of course you want to get some good “action” shots, then no leash is necessary!
7. Vertical shots maximize the dog to background ratio.
Who knew there was such a ratio?? If you try to take vertical pictures rather than horizontal, however, you will get much more of your dog in your picture and less background aka “dog space”. That is terribly important.
Try to focus on your dog’s best feature(s). For example, let’s say you have a dog that is quite a fan of extra snacks and may carry a bit of extra weight, then a full body shot from the side is probably not his best angle. Instead, have them sitting or lying down
9. Patience is a virtue.
You have to be patient. This is not a 2-minute project. Really spend some time out there with them. To get 2 really good shots, often times you will need to take about 50 pictures. This is the beauty of a digital camera – just delete the bad shots!
10. Practice, practice, practice, and before you know it, you’ll be shooting just like the pros!
Look at your finished photos, as well as dog photos taken by others, with a critical eye. What looks good, and what could be improved the next time you shoot? What draws your attention, and what distracts from the main subject matter? As you analyze the photos you’ve taken, you will automatically get better at composing the next images you shoot. The very best way to get better at photographing dogs (or children, or sports events, or scenery, or anything else) is to persevere.