Photographing dogs: tips from a professional

April 15, 2021

Do you get frustrated when photographing dogs? They’re either not looking in the right direction to start with, turn their head or rush off just as you click, leaving you with a fuzzy blur. Kerry Jordan, a professional dog photographer from Fur and Fables shares five simple tips to help you achieve that paw-fect snap. 

1. Think about your background

How many times have you taken a lovely portrait of your dog only to find he has a tree for a hat? This is such a simple one but can make a huge difference. 

Before you take the photograph, check to see if there is anything accidentally growing out of your dogs head – a lamppost, a bin, a bush, a doorframe?

Can you reposition yourself slightly to make sure that the background is clear?

The same applies to horizon lines – where the earth meets the sky. Check to see if it is cutting through your dog’s head. 

These days, most camera phones have a portrait mode. When you use portrait mode, provided the background isn’t too fussy with a large holly bush, the camera is smart enough to pick out the closest thing – your dog – and blur out the background. On some camera phones you can even adjust the level of blur, which is pretty amazing.

2. Change your position

Do you find you always take your photographs from a standing position? Try crouching down to your dog’s level. This can help to reduce distracting backgrounds and focus on your dog. 

A fun thing to try, especially if your dog is on the grass or in a field of flowers, is to turn your phone upside down and get the camera closer to the floor. Try getting as low to the ground as you can with your camera – I usually end up lying on the floor!

3. Use training techniques 

This is one that is so often overlooked but can transform your photos with very little effort.

By using a basic wait command, you can take a few steps away from your dog and frame the image without having to rush. Don’t forget to reward your dog afterwards. 

Here’s some tips for training your puppy

4. Photographing black dogs

It’s a common frustration trying to photograph black or dark dogs, but it needn’t be! The very simple trick is to just look at where the light is hitting your dog’s face. If the light source (e.g. the sun) is behind your dog, they will probably resemble a black blob. 

To address this, position your dog so they are facing the light – unless it’s a super bright day, which will make them squint.  The alternative is to pop them under the shade of a tree facing away from the trunk, or in the shade of a building facing away from the building. You’ll be amazed by how much of a difference this makes.

5. Have a helpful assistant

Sometimes having an assistant (aka a treat or toy dispensing person) can help. If your dog is motivated by food or toys, they will usually sit and wait for it. This means you can swoop in and take a few shots while they are waiting patiently. 

Kerry Jordan is a self taught, award winning photographer. Originally a wedding and families photographer, after sharing images of her dogs she started receiving commissions for dog portraits. She then decided to specialise in the wonderful world of photographing dogs dand hasn’t looked back. Kerry can often be found crossing the street to say hello to dogs, much to the disconcertment of her friends who realise she has disappeared mid conversation.

Find out more about Kerry and her work at www.furandfables.com. You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook.

Image credits: Kerry Jordan/Fur & Fables