Choose the Right Location
Selecting the right location for your photo shoot might be the single most important factor in making sure that you end up with images that you adore (almost as much as you adore your pup!). Give careful thought to where you want to pose your dog because doing so will go a long way toward ensuring that you find the “sweet spot” – which means great images.
Some considerations about location:
~ Choose a place where you and your pup can have fun! Because, really. . .if you and your pup aren’t having fun, what’s the point? A happy dog means happy images. Some love playing in waves as they wash ashore in a location like Dog Beach in Huntington Beach; others run for dry land at the mere sight of water. You know where your dog is happiest and, therefore, most relaxed. Start there.
~ If outside, think about the best (and not so best) times of day for the shoot from the perspective of lighting. Visit the site at different times to get a feel for the mood.
It’s also helpful to know if your dog is a morning canine — one who’s up and at ‘em at sunrise — or more of a night creature who loves to sit and stare (or howl?) at the moon? All kidding aside, it really can make a difference! And don’t forget to take into account squirrels, cats, other dogs and well, any scurrying critters that might distract your model from posing at his or her best.
~ If inside, you’ll generally have a bit more control over the lighting and preventing unexpected distractions. Also, they might mean that you can play around a bit more with props and architectural elements — all of which can add a lovely je ne sais quoi to the final images. Don’t forget that inside shoots are sometimes best for elderly dogs and puppies that have not had all their shots yet.
Bottom line: Dogs totally know when they’re in a happy place, and when that happens it’s not at all unusual for them to strut their best runway walk and pose!
Find Backgrounds that Compliment Your Dog’s Coat
Just as important as choosing the right location is choosing one that will best complement the color and texture of your dog’s coat. Depending on the mood you want to capture, background colors can subtly highlight your pup’s unique coloring or make his coat’s texture and hues pop! Give some thought about what “message” you want to convey. Choosing to pose your model sitting proudly surrounded by pots of colorful annuals clearly conveys an upbeat mood. Capturing her image while she’s snoozing, perhaps against a background of monochromatic sea grass, conveys an entirely different feeling.
Here’s an example of how color can affect your photograph.
The Labrador is fairly light in color and the purple flowers in Roger’s Garden in Newport Beach she is posing with really make the image zing because of the contrast. If she had been photographed at the beach in Corona Del Mar, posed on sun-washed sand, you would have gotten an entirely different mood. Both are great. The choice is yours.
Find the Right Props
Whether inside or out, the smallest prop can make the biggest difference. Think of your snowy white Bichon Frise with and without a jaunty red scarf tied “just so” around her neck. Or your strong and stately German Shepherd posed with one paw placed gently over his favorite chew toy.
Sometimes, a prop can be the element that makes your pictures worth the proverbial 1,000 words. A vacant chair. A favorite coffee mug.
In the image here, the orange life raft was included because it was a sentimental item that meant everything to the dog’s owners – just like their dog.
Location, color, and props – give each tip some thought and do a bit of advance scouting and planning before your session.
Your work will pay off with images that will make your heart sing every time you look at them!
Do you have additional tips? If so, leave them in the comments below!