We all adore our dog friends who are part of our families and everyday lives, so it’s only natural to want to include them in family events, special occasions and photographs.
While our pets are alive we don’t think about how their passing over the rainbow bridge will affect us, but from experience we already know that looking at their nice portraits helps us to continue to enjoy and remember them once they’re gone.
If you’re currently in this sad situation, Praise The Dogs has articles about letting go after a dog has passed and how to deal with grief.
The RSPCA also have some great advice on the subject of grieving a pet.
This is one of the reasons that we recommend dog owners make the time to take some quality photographs of their pet dog, so that when the time comes, they have some clear and quality images that they can either put on the wall or simply enjoy on their phone from time to time.
As you might already know, even if your dog is well behaved and responds well to commands and training, there can be a big difference between your dog sitting for a tasty treat and getting it to pose for a photo!
Fear not, we have enlisted the help of some of Melbourne’s best pet photographers for tips on how to shoot a dog portrait and also what to look for when getting one done professionally.
Make The Experience Relaxed
When taking your own photos, block out some time to make it a relaxed experience. Rushing it won’t get you what you want. Instead, sit down in the back yard or in a lounge area of your home where your dog usually likes to relax.
Enlisting another person to help with treats and commands or the camera is a great idea and enables a little more control of the situation.
Quite often, when professional pet photographers are working, the first few shots aren’t very good – it can take a while for the dog and photographer to find their groove and get used to each other. Inevitably, the last few shots once you’ve started to wind down are the ‘keepers’ from a photoshoot. It’s almost as if the dog feels you let go of your stress and does the same by relaxing and calming down.
Use A Quality Camera
You can take great photos on your iPhone but a DSLR or mirrorless camera will offer a little more freedom in terms of shutter response times and framing.
Ensure your area is well lit, but where possible, not directly lit. Filtered and indirect light is alot softer and easier to work with than direct sunlight or downlights.
Bright, direct sunlight is just as uncomfortable for your dog as it is for us which can make them squint. You might get a few funny snaps out of it, but not a quality portrait!
Ensure The Background Is Clutter-Free
A blurry and bokeh-licious background will help to create a striking portrait, enabling the viewer to focus on the dog rather than something random in the background.
To do this, try to get as much distance between the dog and the background. The more distance you get, the more indistinct the background should become.
If using an iPhone, use the Portrait mode as this will bring the dog into focus and throw the background out of focus. If using a DSLR camera, select an aperture of f2.8 – f4.0 to give you that shallow depth of field and bring the viewers attention to the dog’s face.
Focus On The Eyes
They say that the eyes are the window to the soul, and with pet photography, this is especially true.
Keeping the focus on the eyes really creates a connection in a photo and stops any distractions elsewhere in the photo.
If the dog has a long muzzle, this may be out of focus along with the background, but this just further emphasises the eyes.
Use A Professional Photographer
You might not have the time or the patience to take photos of your dog, or you might just be terrible using your camera or phone, in which case enlisting the services of a professional dog photographer might be the easiest and stress-free solution to capturing a quality photograph of your pet.
When looking for a professional animal photographer to work with, the usual Google and Instagram searches are always useful but we’d suggest that you hone in on the style and feel of the images that appeal to you.
For instance, do you prefer an image that is shot in a studio with a plain background or would an image of your dog at their favourite beach or park enjoying themselves be more of a fitting reminder of their personality?
Posed or unposed? Maybe a shot of them looking well behaved and staring at the camera simply isn’t them, a bit like a child’s perfect school photo, and perhaps they need to be a bit muddy and dishevelled or bounding along the beach to look like themselves!
Whichever way you decide to photograph your dog, please ensure you do it soon and you do it well to ensure you can continue to enjoy them when they leave us behind.