Get the best tips for taking good photos of your dog

It has become more popular than ever to share photos of those we love and what we love to do on social media. This also applies to pictures of our beloved four-legged friends. Instagram is one of those platforms where you really have room to share photos that can capture the dog's being. A perfect way to share the shared passion for dogs.

Maybe you also have a dream of creating a dog profile, or maybe you just want to get better at photographing your dog? Then you have come to the right place. We have received several good advice and tips from popular dog influencers and a genuine dog photographer who can give you a push in the right direction. These are tips that cover everything from choosing the right photography equipment and settings on the camera, to which weather and situations provide the best photos of your dog.

Vi Passer Hund (professional dog photographer)

The first moving image is Rolf Flor, who has been an advertising photographer for many years, but who in recent years has run the dog nursery Vi Passer Hund . Rolf started by taking pictures of children, but as they got started in the dog nursery, there was a completely natural transition from the children to the dogs.

"Children and dogs are quite similar when it comes to attention and photography. It is about getting down to children's height."

Rolf's best tips for dog photography cover everything from choosing a lens to how to use greasy meatballs as bait.

Take the best photos in the studio

Black dog with pointed ears lies on a Siccaro FlexDog drying mat in front of a grey-black background in a photo studio

Rolf primarily takes pictures in his studio, and here his best advice is that there must only be one adult with the photography. The more people there are for the photo session, the more the dog has to deal with. To create good pictures, the dog must be able to focus on the photographer and not the surrounding clutter.

Therefore, Rolf's tip is to also have a clicker, favorite treats or a stuffed animal in your hand at the same time. The best pictures are the ones where you have camera contact and the dog is looking into the lens – and you can typically achieve that if you get the attention.

"From the start, I have treats and spend time making friends with the dog. It could be with greasy meatballs. All tricks apply when taking dog photos. It must have trust in me and possibly lifted onto a table. I primarily photograph in the studio on a table, and it can be a bit reminiscent of going to the vet, so it's about trust.”

Get down to the dog's eye level for outdoor shots

Three dogs play together outside in a garden at the dog nursery Vi Passer Hund

If the photography takes place outdoors, Rolf's best advice is to get down on your knees and elbows. Down to the dog's eye level. It is about not chasing the dog, but instead letting the dog come to you. You get the best photos when you capture them in their element and without it being too posed.

Good pictures can especially arise when the dogs are playing and interacting with each other. Again, it's about having camera contact by making whistling sounds or, for example, using a clicker. You can also use burst settings on your camera with 5-8 frames per second, so you are sure to get the subject you are aiming for.

Invest in a good lens

When you need to take good pictures, it is of course obvious to invest in good equipment. But according to Rolf, it is the lens that plays the biggest role. A lens is the optical lens that is attached to the camera and controls the exposure of the light, depth and speed. That is why there are also many people who, in everyday speech, call it a lens. Rolf uses 50 mm with an aperture of 1.2, which has a large depth of field, where the foreground and background become blurred.

"You can easily use a cheap camera. It's not about pixels. It's more about which lens is on your camera. It is not necessarily the most expensive camera body that is the best. It is the lens that is decisive for how the image turns out.”

Of course, it depends on which photos you want to take. If it's outside, it can be anything from zoom lenses to wide angle.

"As a rule of thumb, I always shoot with a low aperture, so that you achieve a depth of field where the background blurs out. In the studio I shoot with the same settings and with the same lens. With natural light, there are several factors that come into play, and therefore it can be different.”

You must also choose your equipment based on the type of your dog. Is it a fast hunting dog farting around for action shots or a lazy Bernese Mountain Dog lying and relaxing on the forest floor? Choose your equipment according to the dog's energy.

Edit your photos and shoot in RAW format

Two dogs with different types of fur play together in a garden at the Vi Passer Hund dog nursery
You can also improve your photos in terms of editing. There are many different softwares you can use here. A minimum can be Adobe Lightroom, which according to Rolf is the most important for beginners. Here you can do color grading and create everything from contrast to crunch and a special atmosphere.

An idea might also be to take pictures in RAW format. This means that the image is saved in the unedited image format, and you therefore get more data. So even if you've shot a bit wrong with the lighting settings, you can save more with a RAW image.

The RAW format can also be used for black dogs, so they can be easily brightened in Lightroom. Lightroom also has settings called clarity and texture, which are good for dog photos.

"When you turn up the texture, the fur automatically gets much more crunch and structure, so you can emphasize the play that is in the fur. It looks super cool. As difficult as the black dogs are to photograph, they are just as beautiful because they are black, because they have a game in their fur.”

Junior the Copenhagen Lab (Instagram profile)

The next person we get good advice from is Louise, who has the two dogs Junior and Charlie and the Instagram profile Junior the Copenhagen Lab . She started taking pictures back in 2014, back then with just her iPhone. But over time she developed a taste for it and bought her first SLR camera. At the time, she only used Facebook, but soon found that Instagram was more suitable for posting pictures every day.

"Many people spend a lot of energy on getting a lot of followers and likes on Instagram. I think you should use Instagram because it's fun and because it gives you the opportunity to share your hobby with people who are just as committed to their dogs. I think that you get the furthest by being yourself, and posting what you like and not following all the trends that are out there.”

Take advantage of the natural light

Louise only has black dogs, and it can be a challenge when she has to take good pictures. Most of the time, the light is not very good in Denmark, so Louise prefers to take pictures in the "golden hour", which is at sunrise or sunset, as it gives a soft and warm light, because the light does not come directly from above. You can also take great pictures in the "blur hour", which is the hour before and after sunset.

Use a camera that matches your needs

Louise has now upgraded her camera to a mirrorless Sony A7 iii. Her favorite lens is her Sony 70-200mm 2.8, which is both light sensitive and also good for still photos and photos with movement. When she travels, she uses her Zeiss 55mm 1.8, which is good for nature photos. For hiking it is more practical as it both takes up much less space and weighs much less than the 70-200mm lens. Therefore, make sure to find out what you will be using your camera and lens for and adapt it to your needs.
Black labrador wearing the Siccaro SupremePro drysuit standing outside in nature during a hike with cows in the background

Take pictures with manual settings

When it comes to taking photos, it's important that you shoot with manual settings, and it takes some time to learn. If you only use auto mode, you can settle for a cheap camera, as it would be a waste of money to use auto mode on the expensive cameras.

"The most important thing in my world is that you have control over ISO, aperture and shutter. If you have it under control, it quickly becomes more fun and easier to get nice, sharp pictures. It can be an advantage to be able to use both Lightroom and Photoshop, but I myself only use Snapseed, and it works fine for me”.

Make sure the dog has fun

Last but not least, according to Louise, it is important that the dog thinks it is fun. It is obvious to use the photography to train the dog to stay or lie in one place while you take the photo. It is easier to take photos of a dog that is also happy. You get the best pictures when you are at eye level with the dog yourself and avoid taking pictures from above and below.

Keeladventures (Instagram profile)

The next good advice comes from Malene Holst Christensen, who has the Instagram profile @keeladventures with the dog Keela. She started the profile because of her love of photography and because she wanted a place where she could store her memories of Keela and find others who also love dogs and photography. Today, she actively interacts with people from all over the world about dog photography and social media.

"Treats and joy are probably the most important thing, especially at the beginning, if you want the dog to do certain things. There are many cute poses you can make when the dog knows some fun tricks. It can be a great advantage if your dog can stay – and maybe even be sent to or onto objects.”

Use exposure

Dog wearing Siccaro Sealines collar standing in tall grass by the beach with great light exposure in the background

Keela is brown and white and this can present challenges at times – mainly due to its white coat. The paints typically expose the image so that the highlights are not too strong.

"Due to Keela's natural colors, she stands out naturally in most pictures, but over the autumn and winter, when everything turns brown, I think a lot about where she is placed in the picture, and especially where I take the pictures. Here I also use more of the sun as background light, which naturally causes the dog to step forward more."

Therefore, Malene also believes that you should think about the weather conditions. The most optimal is often when it is bright but slightly cloudy, because it creates fewer hard shadows.

Take action shots with high shutter speed

For action shots, it is important to have a high shutter speed. That way you can freeze the dog's movements. You can also use back button focus for action shots, but the most important thing is that you set the camera to take multiple shots. This gives you a much greater chance of getting the perfect picture. Another tip is to play with the dog and find out what type of action shots you like best.

“When I take run-to-me photos, I typically find a framing I like, and then I call the dog to me. If the dog doesn't happen to be in front of me at the time, I either throw a treat in front of me or ask it to sit before I call. I also like to do a few runs so I can be sure I get the right picture.”

Find your style and voice on Instagram

Dog wearing the Siccaro Smart drying mat in Zinfandel Red on a rocky beach
Malene has several good tips for which pictures you should post on social media.

“My best advice is to have fun. Post the photos you love. That way, you quickly create a kind of brand. At the same time, it is a good idea to interact with other profiles. There are countless dog-related profiles, and we all have our love for dogs in common, and many are nice to talk to and help”.

It is very important to find your style and voice if you want to have a profile with your dog on Instagram. Most major profiles' pictures are recognisable, and you also know their "voices".

Keep your Instagram followers engaged

When creating a dog profile on Instagram, Malene's best advice is to interact with your followers and learn what they respond to most. Find out how to get the best photos and videos of YOUR dog. Look at the angles they use in the photos, how they interact with their followers. What draws you in will often draw others in, but make sure you make it your own.

"My experience with @keeladventures has been positive. I have developed a lot on the photography front, which is one of the things I am most happy about. Running a dog profile can be time-consuming if you really want to grow. You have to go out and interact with others, spend time familiarizing yourself with your camera equipment and try a lot of things, but that also has a lot of positive sides.”

Septhegsd (Instagram profile)

The last good advice comes from Natascha Marie Larsen, who has the profile septhegsd , where she posts beautiful pictures of her black German Shepherd Sep. She started the dog profile after a short period of consideration, as she wanted a place where she could - with a clear conscience - upload lots of pictures of her dog. Then the friends and acquaintances who were genuinely interested could follow along, while the rest were spared. As she gained more followers, she began to put more effort into the content, and the images gradually got better the more she learned.

Prepare your shoot and be efficient

German shepherd Sep stands in front of a background of calm water and slightly cloudy sky wearing the Siccaro Spirit 2.0 drying blanket
For Natascha, the key to a successful photo shoot is to be well prepared. This applies both in relation to knowing what type of images she would like to end up getting out of it, as well as creating a relaxed environment for the dog. Taking pictures of dogs is not easy, but it is easier if the dog is happy and relaxed - and if you can be quick and efficient.

“It's better to shoot too many pictures than too few, because you can always sort afterwards. Also always equip yourself with treats so that you can reward the dog along the way. Before a photo shoot, it can be helpful to imagine the photos you want to take. It helps to speed up the process. Want a close-up? A full-length picture? What background? All these things are worth taking into consideration before putting the dog in front of the camera.”

Direct sunlight is nice, but not optimal for photography and often does more damage than good. This applies especially to black dogs, where the camera's automatic white balance can also sometimes make the dog appear blue. That's why Natascha prefers to plan photoshoots in gray weather or shoot good pictures in the shade - and then she always sets the camera manually. Her focus is on the dog's eyes, because just like when you take pictures of people, the look gives a special intensity.

Think about the background

Black German Shepherd wearing Siccaro Sealines collar in silver with a light green background of newly sprouted trees
It is also important to think about the background of the photo, regardless of whether you are inside or outside for your photo shoot with the dog. With a black dog, look for a background with contrasts that complement black, because then the color of the coat is highlighted.

“I always think a lot about the background. It should not make too much noise, i.e. I try to avoid disturbing elements. When I take portraits, I want the dog in focus and not, for example, a parked car in the background. Staged photos are a classic, but many good results also come when I just let the moment happen. I often sit and follow my dog ​​through the camera's viewfinder. Sometimes good pictures come out of the unexpected."

Create a flow in your action shots

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A post shared by Sep (@septhegsd)

Action shots require practice, knowledge of the correct settings and a little technical flair. On some cameras you can find a 'sports setting' which is used to help a little with movement in images, but you will only get the best results if you set the aperture, shutter speed and ISO yourself on your camera.

"Dogs in fast movement are difficult to capture, because it quickly becomes blurred and blurred. A good tip is to follow the dog through the camera's viewfinder during the entire movement and then take many pictures along the way. In this way, you get a fluid flow where the dog would like to be in focus all the time. And you also get a large number of pictures, where hopefully there are some that are as desired. Better to take too many than too few photos, because you can always delete the bad ones.”

Be open and personal on your profile

If you are considering creating your own Instagram profile for your dog, Natascha's advice is to just throw yourself into it. As long as the dog joins the game, you will probably end up having fun.

In addition to having nice pictures, people on Instagram also prefer to follow profiles that are more personal. Profiles where they feel they get a close relationship with the dog, and gain insight into everyday life and training.

"They like to hear a little about your everyday life, how you train your dog, your dog's silly sides, etc. It doesn't always have to be rosy - it's perfectly okay to mention if the training is going a little badly or your dog is sick - but too much discord/negativity doesn't bother anyone in the long run - so stop with that sort of thing."

When looking for engagement on social media, it is generally a good idea to get involved yourself. If you give something, you also get something in return. Find the profiles you find interesting, follow them and comment on their posts. Your cute dog alone cannot carry your profile, it takes a little work before you and your dog become interesting. Here it can be an advantage to post reels and not just pictures, as Instagram currently emphasizes reels more than pictures. Finding the best hashtags for your niche is also an important tool.

“Commitment breeds commitment. So if you yourself are generous and radiate good humor and friendliness, you usually get something in return. You can also ask questions in your captions. It encourages your followers and other curious eyes to leave a comment.”

If you've read all the way to the end, we hope you've picked up some nuggets along the way and dare to throw yourself a little more into photographing your dog. Remember, be patient! When dealing with dogs, everything can easily turn into chaos, and sometimes you have to wait a long time for the perfect moment to get the perfect photo.

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