25 Dog Photography Tips & Ideas

Dog Photography Tips & Ideas

Taking dog photography is the best way to practice your skills in photographing and have a great time with your pet. Since dogs are our best friends, photos with them are always popular. If you want to impress your followers, promote your dog’s profile on Instagram or advertise yourself as a dog photographer, take a camera and go shoot dogs. I will give you some tips to help achieve high-quality and exciting dog pictures.

25 Dog Photography Tips

Having a dog photo session is a nice idea but you have to prepare in advance. It is almost impossible to make a dog sit without moving and look into the camera. That’s why, first of all, a photographer should learn to adapt to the habits and mood of a dog. Moreover, you should take qualitative photo equipment that can provide fast shooting of every active dog.

1. Must-Have Lenses for Dog Photography

choosing lenses for dog photography

When choosing lenses for your camera, pay attention to the aperture. If the aperture is wider, a smaller part of the photo will be in focus and the photo is focused on the subject. With a wide-angle lens, you can capture more of the scene.

Telephoto lenses allow you to achieve high-quality photographs at close and far distances. It is especially important when shooting dogs as you want to capture them in the most natural environment, without getting distracted by outside factors.

  • The standard focal length is 50mm which is perfect for dog portrait shooting.
  • I recommend the focal length of 16-35 mm (wide-angle lenses) for shooting at very close distances when only one detail is focused, for example, a nose or paw.
  • 70-200mm (telephoto lenses) are suitable for shooting at a far distance.

2. Digital SLR Is the Best Choice

If you are learning to shoot in motion, dogs are perfect subjects to practice your photography skills. You never know what they will do next. So it’s a challenge for your patience and equipment.

You can’t take the best dog pictures using your phone. For dog photography, it’s better to have a DSLR camera that supports a lot of lens types.

  • Canon EOS Rebel T6i - is a reasonably priced camera with a large number of auto settings.
  • Nikon D810 is a variant suitable for both beginners and professionals due to its ease of use and wide variability of settings.
  • Canon EOS 5DSr is one of the most highly recommended cameras for dog portrait shooting.

3. Use Ultra-Wide Angles When Shooting a Dog

ultra-wide angles dog photography

You can create a very nice and interesting composition if you are shooting using ultra-wide angles. It’s a very close shooting at a distance of a couple of steps but you can enjoy interesting effects that will never turn out so well with a person. For instance, with Canon EF 17-40 f/4L USM lens, you will have a 93-degree angle.

4. Use a Prime Lens If the Dog Moves Too Fast

making dog photography with prime lens

If it’s difficult for you to make a dog sit without moving for a good dog photo, try running around your dog and find a moment to shoot. While doing this, you won’t be able to zoom in and change the lenses. Professional photographers say that it’s a good idea to try a prime lens that has a fixed focal length. In this way, to get your object focused, you have to move. It will give you a nice quality of pictures. Another advantage of such a lens is a wide aperture. The most popular ones are the 50mm and 35mm lenses.

5. Setting Up a Wide Aperture

setting up a wide aperture for dog photography

It’s a nice idea to use a wide aperture when working with dog photography if you want to emphasize one particular object or a detail in your picture. Use an f/2 aperture to eliminate all distractors and f/16 for a scenery photo only. The wide aperture is perfect for dog portraits.

Also, a wide aperture lets the ISO and shutter speed move, which allows you to adjust camera settings with more freedom. First of all, set your camera to the Aperture Priority mode and then the lens to the maximum zoom and widest aperture.

6. Use Natural Light Whenever You Can

the best time for dog photography

For better results, take dog photography at particular hours of the day. For example, consider doing it during the golden hour. It’s the time of the day after dusk or before dawn when the sun produces beautiful golden colors and an amazing atmosphere in your pictures. Also, another great idea for taking pictures of dogs is to do it in cloudy weather.

You won’t be able to achieve bright pictures but clouds will add a nice glow to your images and make them look awesome. Claudio Piccoli, a professional dog photographer always says that if you are shooting with a lot of sunlight, your pet photos may turn out to be overexposed or have sharp shadows.

7. Use Backlight When Shooting Indoors

To get sharper and impressive images, you should take care of additional lighting if your photoshoot is held indoors. You can add light using an off-camera flash or strobe.

Also, it’s a good idea to use reflectors for dog photography. Stand outside in a way that the pets are facing the light and get as much of it as possible. However, don’t do it for a long time or the light may hurt their eyes. Set an f 5.6 value or perhaps even slightly lower.

8. Adjust Exposure Based on the Color of the Fur

adjust exposition based on the color of the fur

Before shooting, think of how you can play with the color of your dog’s fur that your pet has and adjust exposure settings properly. For dogs with the light color of fur, I recommend underexposing by 1-2 stops. For dogs with dark fur – overexposing by 1-2 steps. For good results, take photos in the shade or on a cloudy day when the light is even.

9. Prepare the Dog for a Photoshoot

Before dog photoshoot, take care of its appearance. First of all, the dog needs to be washed and the long-haired one – combed. To add a “twist” to the photo, take such accessories as bright and stylish collars, bows, overalls, etc. You can use “human” attributes like glasses and hats as well. This will give your photos a “wow” look.

10. Mind Natural Poses

adapting to a dog’s natural pose

Instead of forcing the dog to make special poses (and if you are not its owner, you are unlikely to succeed in doing that), adapt to its habits and mood. Do what you would do if you were shooting a child.

For example, dogs love lying on the couch and you can show it in your picture. Also, you can put a magazine beside the dog and take a very funny picture. It will look as if the dog is reading a book.

11. Learn the Dog’s Character Before the Photoshoot

If it’s not your dog, you need to find out about its biography, habits, name just like you are doing for any other human shooting. In case the dog you are photographing is very active, you will have the possibility to get a quick and unpredictable photo session. If the dog is quite lazy and slow, I recommend you giving it some treats to draw attention to you.

12. Draw the Dog's Attention with a Tasty Treat

some tasty treats to draw a dog’s attention

Each dog photographer should have some treats and toys for them. In this way, you can easily draw the attention of the dog to make it look at the camera and even perform certain tricks. In addition to treats, unusual sounds can also help you get the attention of the pet.

For example, you can tap, rustle or use the sounds recorded on the phone. A treat or an interesting subject can be tied to a photo lens so that the dog looks directly at it.

13. Choose the Correct Time for a Photoshoot

Depending on whether you want to capture a dog when it’s most active or while it’s resting, choose the time when the dog feels like doing a particular type of shooting that you have planned. Be relaxed and motivated to play with the dog as then it will be willing to play with you too.

14. Keep the Distance

keeping the distance while making dog photography

You can achieve good dog photos if you are at a quite large distance from the dog. The pet is free to do its favorite activities without being distracted by you and an unfamiliar object – a camera.

If you use a zoom lens for dog photography, you will be able to shoot both from close and far distances. In this way, the dog will get used to you. Besides, it will allow you to try various compositions for your pictures, remove distractions and achieve a stunning bokeh effect.

15. Move Slowly

If you want to capture a dog in particular poses (for instance, sitting or lying down), move around the dog with a camera very slowly and crouching. Also, try to avoid eye contact. This will allow you to take some photos before the pet decides to get up and run away.

16. Focus on the Eyes

focusing on the dog’s eyes while making photography

Everyone knows that eyes are the mirror of the soul. Try to capture the eyes of the dog that is the model in your photoshoot in order to create the impression of familiarity, depth and emotions. It’s better to take similar photos at the end of the photo session when the dog is tired enough to be in one position calmly and let you focus the lens on its eyes.

17. Take Dog Action Shots

editing dog photography in the fixthephotoediting dog photography in the fixthephoto
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A camera body is very important when you are shooting action dog photography. Its speed will greatly influence the pictures you are taking. The FPS (frames-per-second) means how many frames your camera can shoot in a second.

The more images your camera can shoot, the more steps in action series you can get. A camera is also important when it comes to autofocus. Different cameras have different autofocus mechanisms and the number of autofocus points.

Autofocus works via multiple selection points. When an object is in front of these points, they outline what you are trying to shoot. If there are a lot of autofocus points in your camera, its selection will be more accurate.

18. Move to Get Interesting Compositions

a photographer moves to get more interesting composition with a dog

A dog photographer has to move a lot not only to capture the moving pet in the frame but also to get a reaction from it. For example, if you work together with the owner of the dog, try to make a sharp gesture in his/her direction – you will see that the dog makes a fast leap towards you. This is what you should shoot.

Don’t hesitate to take the same poses: sit down, lie down or crawl like a dog does. First of all, the dog will pay attention to you. Secondly, you can capture the world from the dog’s view. Your photos will be more impressive than the ones taken from human height.

19. Right Background for Dog Photography Portraits

choosing a plain background for dog photography

You can achieve gorgeous photos on the plain background. If you are shooting outdoors, it can be thick grass, fallen leaves, snow in the winter or a lawn covered with many flowers. If your photoshoot is held indoors, use blankets with a simple pattern, wooden floor, etc. Such a background will complement the fur of the pet.

20. Shoot Contrasts

a conceptual photography of a small and a huge dog

An interesting idea for successful dog photography is shooting on a contrasting background: a white dog on a black background, a black one on the white, a red one on blue or purple, etc. As for contrasts, try not only color but also conceptual ones.

Pictures of a cat with a dog (of course, if both pets can handle it) always cause amazement. You can shoot animals that are very different in size. For example, a huge shepherd and a small chihuahua. A picture of a dog’s silhouette on the background of a beautiful sunset or dawn is also an example of contrast.

21. Show How the Dog Interacts with the Person

a dog and a child photography

A dog is the man’s best friend. Therefore, photos showing their warm relationship will be captivating. Take a picture of how the dog plays or rests with its owner, helps do something (carry a newspaper, slippers, an umbrella, roll a stroller with a small baby, etc.).

In this case, a telephoto or zoom lens comes in handy as you will be able to shoot at a sufficient distance without interfering. Show how the dog perfectly fits in with the human daily routine – rides the subway or a car with the owner, goes shopping at the mall or even does some creative activities (for example, there exist dog dancers, singers, artists).

22. Photograph a Playing Dog

playing dog photography

Perhaps, dogs love active games more than any other pets. Capture how they are running with the ball (for an interesting photo, you can use a basketball or a football one) or a bone, catch Frisbee, skillfully jump over the obstacles and roll in the air.

23. Make an Instagram Star

dog as an instagram star

Not only professional pet photography is popular. Cute pawsome pictures that make people say “wow” are also loved by viewers. There is a special interest in dogs in human situations. For example, a dog “working” on the computer, “reading” dogs, etc. Of course, you need to use such accessories as ties, pullovers, glasses and hats.

You can try and have the dogs roleplay human relationships, like “bride and a groom”, “date”, “boss and an employee”, etc. Also, you can get a lot of “likes” for festive themed photos, for example, a picture of a dog under a Christmas tree or wearing Halloween costume, etc.

Wet dogs usually cause amazement too. Don’t forget to add special hashtags for dog lovers to these photos. Jinxun Zou pet photographer uses #petphotography, #dogsofinstagram, #pets, #petsofinstagram, #petportraits #petportrait, etc.

24. Shoot a Dog on a Smartphone

dog photography on a smartphone

The main rule of shooting on a phone is to provide more daylight. Therefore, it’s better to shoot outside. If you are shooting inside, place a dog by a big window when it’s sunny outdoors. If there is too much light, you can dim it with the curtain.

Since you can’t experiment with lenses, I recommend using a plain background so that there aren’t any distracting details in the frame. Don’t use the flash. But if you are shooting at twilight, capture the silhouette of a dog on the background of the setting sun.

25. Refer to Professional Photographers

dog studio photoshoot

In this way, you will be able to get a top-quality portrait of your dog. A professional photographer can shoot both indoors and outdoors.

In the studio, the best result is achieved with the help of professional lamps. Also, a photographer usually has different attributes and accessories, such as cozy ottomans, chairs, toys that will make your photo more interesting.

The cost of a dog photographer’s work depends on how famous he/she is. But, in any case, you’ll get memorable photos.

Freebies for Dog Photography

Dogs are very lovely creatures the way they are but not each photo of the animal is perfect to convey its natural beauty to an audience. Use these plug-ins to correct your captures by adding to them some stunning effects and removing flaws.


freebie for dog photographyfreebie for dog photography

Use this overlay to add the natural element to the photo. Of course, shooting in the rain is inconvenient, and you can’t make the dog go outside in bad weather. So this effect is perfect to add the impression of heavy rain without having to get wet outside.


freebie for dog photographyfreebie for dog photography

As I have mentioned before, dogs are very active and fast pets. Use this overlay to make everything around the dog look as if it’s in motion, just like it is in the dog’s world.

Sun Light

freebie for dog photographyfreebie for dog photography

I have already mentioned that you should shoot a dog in the daylight but preferably when it’s not too intense. Otherwise, your photos can have sharp shadows. However, if you think that your photo doesn’t have enough light, use this freebie to correct it.


freebie for dog photographyfreebie for dog photography

This is another great overlay that you can use to correct lighting effects. Add pastel tones and fall shine to a photo taken in nature with its help.


freebie for dog photographyfreebie for dog photography

Dogs are almost like children. Therefore, what is suitable for children's photos can often be used for enhancing dog pictures. Apply these cheerful bubble overlays to diversify the photo with magical soap bubbles.

Tata Rossi

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