You’re scrolling through Instagram and seeing all these adorable pups. You notice they all appear perfectly posed and so obedient. You’re thinking, “my dog could never look this good in a photo!” I’ve been there, and I’m here to tell you that it’s just simply not true. You and your adorable pup can take an Instagram-worthy photo! It just takes a little strategy, basic knowledge of photography, and knowing how your pup operates.
If you missed part one of this series, you can find it here. It covers basic photography tips to get you started taking great images. You’ll definitely want to visit and revisit these posts as you continue in your journey of taking better photos of your pets! Let’s dive right into some other tips for getting the perfect shot!
GET YOUR PUP’S ATTENTION AND THAT HEAD A’TILTING
Oh the puppy head tilt – everyone’s favorite! There are not many things cuter than a pup looking at you with those big eyes and a tilted head. Capturing this part of your pup’s personality is like taking a photo of their best side. It truly showcases the best in your pup and shows off so much about their personality! When their head is tilting, it means you have their full attention.
The trick to getting the infamous head tilt is to know what makes your pup exhibit this behavior. There are several reasons that pups tilt their heads. They do this to hear or see you better, since most often a head tilt is a dog’s way of showing curiosity or interest, according to petmd.com.
For example, my labrador retriever, Paisley, tilts her head when I ask if she sees a squirrel or if she wants a treat. Sometimes, I’ll even make high-pitched noises to get her zoned in. This works for most dogs I photograph as well! Knowing what verbal cues work for your pup will make it easy to capture their photo in any scenario.
USE FAMILIAR COMMANDS
To make use of this tip, your dog must know basic commands like sit, stay, and lay down. Let’s say you’ve found some great light and a perfect background for your photo, now you just need your pup to settle down for the shot! This is where telling your dog to “sit” and “stay” will come in handy. Once you’ve mastered the “stay” command, this is the perfect time to attempt getting your pup’s head tilting for the shot.
LOVE, PRAISE, AND REWARDS
This is probably the most crucial takeaway! Rewards are most important when getting your pup to behave in general, but they are also super important when taking a great photo. Never offer a treat or reward and not be able to give one. This will make your pet apprehensive when you tell them to sit for a photo in the future. After all, they work hard for you and deserve all the love, praise, and reward when being obedient AND taking great photos!
UNPOSED AND ACTION SHOTS
Have you ever taken a photo of your dog running and it looked like a blurry blob across the image? You’re not alone! Action shots are not easy to capture, especially when you have a high energy pup. For capturing action and unposed shots successfully, it’s all about where you position yourself, especially when using your phone’s camera.
Say your dog is running across the beach and the light is pretty even (because you’ve learned from part one of this series that about an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset is the best lighting.) With the light even all around, you could shoot from pretty much any angle. However, to catch your dog running, try positioning yourself where your dog is running parallel to you, rather than straight towards you.
If you’re able to use a higher quality camera, be sure that your shutter speed is as fast as you can get it while still maintaining perfect exposure. When using a high-quality camera, your position can be more flexible as the camera is capable of freezing action and maintaining a perfectly sharp image.
We’ve discussed some of the main tips and tricks for capturing your pup at their best in photos. When also remembering the more technical photography tips in part one, this can be a lot to think about, especially when you have a wild pup running around! But, don’t worry, it takes practice to get the hang of it all! It even takes practice for your pup. Use these little photo sessions as training sessions, as well as to make your pup more obedient. It will soon become second nature for you both!
We’d love to hear from you! Please let me know in the comments how these tips are working and any questions I can answer in future posts.
Markie & Paisley
Markie Walden is a wedding and lifestyle photographer based in South Carolina. Markie and her husband, Rob, love spending time with their pup, Paisley. She is an energetic and loving yellow Labrador Retriever who brings joy everywhere she goes! When not off photographing her wonderful clients, Markie loves capturing Paisley in photos.
See Markie’s pup, Paisley, also on Instagram!