8 Top Dog Photography Tips for the Perfect Portrait

Taking pictures of your dog can be difficult, as with any pet. They move quickly, they’re more excited about playing than posing for your photo, and even the most well-trained dog often seems to stop listening to your commands as soon as a camera is pointed their way.


So, how do you set yourself up with the best possible chance of capturing that special shot of your pooch? Check out our 8 top tips for snapping the perfect dog photography. We’re covering some technical things you can try with your camera as well as some tips and tricks on how to put dogs at ease so you can snap the best shots.

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1.    Try burst mode

We all know just how quick dogs can be when they’re playing, or even just when they’re excited and happy to be outside. If you want to get photos of dogs in motion, it can be very difficult to line up the shot, and even harder to time it to capture your pets at the ideal moment.

One thing that you can do to try and get around this is to use burst mode. This is a mode that most cameras have where they will take a number of pictures extremely quickly, giving you the best chance that one of them will be a perfect shot. Then, you can just have a quick look through the shots and choose the best one!

2.    Use a wide-angle lens for close up shots

Wide angle lenses let you capture even more of the surrounding location, even if you’re close to your pet. They can also create interesting perspectives that look fun and exciting for pet photography – get nice and close to your dog and focus on their nose for a really fun photo!

You can either buy affordable wide angle lenses for DSLR cameras, or some recent smart phones have started coming with wide angle lenses included.

3.    Use natural light

If you’re shooting your dogs outside, you’ll probably be relying on natural light anyway. But even if you’re indoors, you can maximise the natural light available to you by shooting near a window or even opening doors into the garden if you can.

Think about experimenting with the type of natural light that you’re using, as well. Harsh, direct light from sun overhead will cause annoying shadows and make it hard to take the right photo, so try shooting on a bright but cloudy day, or golden hour – the time just before the sun starts to rise or set, causing a beautiful golden light.

4.    Plan your shots and location

Moving on from technical advice on how to set up your camera, we’re now looking at some things you can do to the situation in which you’re taking photos to maximise your chances of getting the perfect shot.

The first thing on this list is to make sure that you carefully plan out your shots and the location that you’re going to take them. Consider walking around your proposed locations before taking the dog to see how the lighting works, and then try taking your dog to see how they react in the area, as well.

Plan out which kinds of photos you want to take, too. If you’re looking to take some action shots of your dog darting around, make sure your dog will have plenty of energy and plan the photoshoot early in a walk. If you want your dog to be still and ready for a rest, why not take them for a long walk first?

5.    Use locations where your dog feels comfortable

Following on from the last point, another useful tip to follow when it comes to choosing locations to take pet photography is to use places where your dog is already comfortable. If you’re shooting in a place that your pooch already knows, their reactions will be a lot more natural, and you can snap pictures of them enjoying themselves.

6.    Get down to the dog’s eye level

Getting down to the same level as a dog is a great way to calm a nervous animal. It also helps them see you as someone in their environment who they can trust and play with, meaning you’ll get better shots as they react to the camera and your presence.

Plus, it makes for the most natural looking photography, as you’ll get pictures of your pet ambling around, resting or even playing right from the dog’s eye view!

7.    Don’t be afraid to use treats as rewards

If you’re photographing someone else’s dog, make sure to get their permission before using treats. But, showing a dog a treat can be a really helpful way to get their attention, and keep it for long enough to snap the perfect photo.

You could even give them a toy or chew to play with and take photos of them enjoying their favourite snack. However, make sure you don’t go overboard here – if you distract your dog from the environment too much, it might be hard to take natural looking photos of them.

8.    Get a professional

Our last tip for getting a great set of photos of your four-legged friend is to trust the whole thing to a professional. Professional dog photographers have the skills and expertise to take the perfect shot that you can treasure forever, so it’s worth considering whether to get a pro involved to give you peace of mind.

If you’re looking for professional dog photography, why not speak to Pawtraits by Steve? I can meet you and your dog either at a location that we choose together, or I can even come to your home with my mobile studio. With Pawtraits by Steve’s high quality pet photography service, you create the moment, I capture the moment, you keep the moment!