Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tips + Tricks | Photographing Your Dog's Personality

In my first Tips + Tricks post about photographing dogs, I shared some helpful hints about how to take better portraits of dogs.  But sometimes you want more than just a standard portrait of your pet, so now I'd like to share some ideas to help you capture a dog's personality on camera.

1. Most importantly, the dog must be comfortable in their surroundings, and around you and your camera before their personality will shine through.  So, give them plenty of time to get used to their environment, and allow them to come up to you and greet you in their own time. Once they seem like they are comfortable turn on your camera, and see how they react to the noises it makes. Then, only after they seem completely at ease, should you begin taking photos.

2. Give the dog some space. When I want to get photos of my dogs playing, I will attach my longest zoom lens to my camera. By staying farther back, and zooming in, it helps to keep the dogs from constantly wanting to interact with me instead of their toys or each other.  It allows them to act more natural while being photographed.  (This is especially important with my dogs because they know camera = treats, so as soon as they see my camera they are at my feet waiting for their goodies.)

Lexi is a very inquisitive dog, who at almost 4 years old thinks she's still a puppy and rarely stays focused on any one thing for more than a few minutes. But, you'd never guess that from seeing most of the photos I post, where she is focused on the camera and the treats she knows are coming. Without a zoom lens, I could never capture a photo like this of Lexi, where she has her attention directed towards something that she hears in her environment...


3.  Engage the dog in activities that it enjoys.  Find out what the dog likes to do, and photograph it doing those activities.

Does the dog like playing with other dogs? If so, maybe you would want to take photos of the dog playing with some furry friends at a dog park or else invite another dog over for a puppy play date...


Does your dog like to run? fetch? swim?

Lexi LOVES to run, and she is CRAZY FAST! I've only seen two other dogs keep up with her when she starts sprinting as fast as she can. Her favorite thing to do at the dog park is to goad the other dogs into chasing her, so she can take off and leave them all in the dust...


Lexi also loves to play her own version of fetch, which is basically chase a toy and then run around in circles with it in her mouth until she gets tired. At which point she will lay down with it, and will chase it again if you walk over and pick it up and throw it again...



This is classic Lexi. (She's a bit crazy!)...


Lexi loves to swim!  She wasn't being very co-operative about letting me take her photo while she was in her pool, but I got lots of fun photos of her shaking off once she got out...


4.  Figure out what makes the dog you are photographing unique and capture it.  Does the animal have a particular way it sits or lays, or a particular behavior it does?  If so, engage the animal in a manner that usually results in the behavior and photograph it.

Lexi, does this pose pretty often when she is playing, especially when she is trying to get Zoe to play with her...


Lexi is VERY curious and fearless.  No matter what we are doing, her nose is right there in the middle of things.  Here she is sniffing at the water that she splashed out of her pool while she was playing in it...


5.  Every dog has those annoying habits, that drive you nuts, but at the same time you just can't imagine your furry friend without them!  Consider capturing them on film, and allow them to bring a smile to your face for a change.

Lexi is the queen of destroying toys!  This frisbee lasted for approximately 20 minutes before she had it torn into a million pieces...


If there's something to roll in, it's a given that Lexi will find it and cover herself in it....


Lexi is also a bit of a barker when she hears strange sounds or other dogs...


But, she just wouldn't be the Lexi Lou that we know and love without all of her insane crazy habits.

As always, thanks for reading and I hope you find some of my tips helpful.  If you have any questions, or other ideas for capturing a dog's personality on camera, feel free to share them in the comments!

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

6 comments:

  1. I miss Lexi & Zoe and can't wait to see them in a few weeks. I need some puppy kisses. I enjoyed the new pics of them! Seems Lexi needs a new frisbee for her birthday.

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  2. I was just thinking the other day that I needed to take more pix of my boys. Haven't done that in awhile. Shiver doesn't care for the camera much but Chico doesn't seem to mind it.

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  3. Those are a couple cute pups. My favorites are the ones where Lexi is midair and rolling around on her back. She's a loon.

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  4. They miss you, too! So far the pink frisbee is still in one piece, but probably not for long.

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  5. The dog I had before Zoe & Lexi didn't really like the camera too much, either.

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  6. Lexi is such a cute dog. I really appreciate the tips. I have been trying to take better pictures of my dogs, and I needed some direction. I will definitely follow your tips and hopefully I can catch some cute poses like you did!

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