Candid dog photography can be tricky. Here are some tips on how to get the best candid photographs of your dog.
Candid dog photography tips
Using the following tips is a great way to improve your dog photography.
- Get your dog used to your camera
Some dogs may be social and outgoing and have no issues with your camera. On the other hand, some may be shy so you may want to get your camera out with no intention of taking any photos. Let them have a bit of a sniff, hear the shutter going off. Introduce it over a few days so they aren’t scared or timid when it’s around.
- Find the right location
You may chose to shoot inside your home / backyard or you may make your way to the park or beach. Either way try to find a location that is not too cluttered and doesn’t have too much action going on that will stop your dog from focusing on you when needed.
- Bribe them with their favorite treat or toy
Always have your dogs favorite treats and/or toy on hand. These can be used to get expressions or simply as a reward for following a command.
- Use noise to get their attention
Don’t be afraid to use the squeaker on the toy or your voice to get your dogs attention. Depending on your dogs personality and level of training you may need a second person on hand to help get your dogs attention. This person may use your dogs squeaky toy behind your head or they may simply play with / tease your dog while you snap away. The more natural your dog is around the camera the more candid the photographs of your dog.
- Shoot low
Get down to your dogs level. If you have a small dog that may mean getting down on the floor. If you are outside you may need to be prepared to get dirty or have a blanket on hand so you can get down to their level. Some camera also have adjustable LCD screens so you may be able to use this to your advantage to hold the camera low while still seeing the electronic viewfinder. You also want to make sure you move slowly as you want to allow the dog to continue their business without being startled by your movements.
- Use natural light, not flash or into the full sun
The time of the day and/or light in the room is important so that you are able to get the best photos. Aim for soft light or open shade. Avoid low light where possible as you’ll likely struggle to get fast enough shutter speeds. Slower shutter speeds with cause blurring in your photos.
- Focus on their EYES
Unless you want to focus on something else (e.g. your dogs nose or paws) you want to keep your focus on your dogs eyes or specifically the eye closest to the camera. The eyes are the entrance to their soul and show so much emotion.
- Use a fast shutter speed
Unless you have a very well trained dog you’ll find that your dog is constantly moving, even when they are sitting still. You will need a fast shutter speed (>1/500) to try to capture them without adding motion blur to the photos. If you have a continuous / burst / sports mode on your camera you may want to select this to help you get great candid photographs with your dog interacting with its natural environment.
- Take lots of photos
Your first photo shoot may have a low success rate but keep trying, keep learning how to use you camera. Don’t let yourself get frustrated. Remember you only need one great photo to make it worthwhile and if you don’t get it, you may get it next time.
If you want to see more pet photos check out our puppy model (Patrick) on his Instagram