If you’re planning to put your dog up for adoption, one of the most important steps is taking a flattering photograph for your advertisement.
It will be the first impression that a potential parent will have of the dog. The prospective owner must picture the pet vividly in their minds and imagine bringing them into their homes. Bring out the best qualities of the dog that will make people inquire about the adoption.
It might sound easy, but there’s more to it than pointing a camera at the dog. There are subtleties and techniques required for the best possible photo. Then there are specific challenges, like how to photograph black dogs.
We're here to help. Below are five quick tips and techniques on how to take the best photos of any dog breed. A spectacular photo will give your dog the best chance of finding the right family.
Five Tips for Photographing Dogs for Adoption
1. Be Patient
You have to realize that you’re taking pictures of an animal. You can’t always communicate the way you could with a human, and you should expect dogs to move about and not settle down long enough for a decent shot.
Be patient, and keep at it! It might be worthwhile to work with a dog trainer or another expert who can keep the dog still for extended periods. He’ll also know the best ways to keep both you and the dog safe.
2. Get Down to Eye-level As Much As Possible
An amateur who wants to take a photo of the dog will usually do it from a standing position, pointing down towards the dog. People often do this because it’s easier. It’s not always the best approach, though, as it doesn’t show your dog in the most flattering light or angle.
The best angle is eye-to-eye. You can put the dog on a table or stool to achieve this position. A photograph at this level reveals more personality and emotion within the shot, and the dog will feel almost human as if they are talking directly to the viewer.
3. Pay Attention to the Lighting
Photography is essentially capturing the right light. All you need to achieve stunning photos is a solid control over the light that’s falling on your subject. You can opt for either direct or indirect light when positioning your dog.
Direct light is when light hits your subject directly from the source—for example, outside under the sunlight, or right below a ceiling fixture. The benefit of direct light is that it creates a brighter, cheerier photo. It’s also flattering on your dog’s fur.
Direct light lends too much contrast, though, and harsh light in your photo. It is not ideal when taking pictures of black dogs, either.
When you want to photograph your dog using direct light, try to do it from an angle. Outdoors, for example, you'd want to utilize the sunlight during early mornings or late afternoons. The light is not as harsh then, creating beautiful, warm compositions.
Try to avoid overhead light wherever possible.
Indirect light is when it is reflected from another surface before it hits your subject. Think of when your dog is under the shade of a tree. He is still illuminated (you can see him), but the light is coming from the sunlight, which is reflected by the grass, the tree, and the ground.
The main reason you'd want indirect light is that it gives a much softer, warmer feel to your photo. Details become more apparent, and no harsh shadows are cutting through the image. If you're photographing a black dog, this is the best way to do it.
4. Capture Your Dog in the Best Possible Way
Dogs are animals that don’t want to sit still, so you use that quality to your advantage. A photo of a dog that looks excited or is about to “jump out” onto the viewer is appealing. It tells people that this is an active and happy animal.
You might want to work with two or more handlers to achieve this effect, each of whom will capture the dog's attention. As a photographer, you should be ready to capture each moment.
You never know when the dog will leap forward and assume a flattering pose or a cute expression. Usually, these poses only last for a split second, so you have to act fast and take as many photos as you can.
If you’re to capture a dog sitting still, it’s best to do so from an angle. Have the dog sit three-quarters of the way with its head turned towards the camera, showing an alert expression. If standing, capture a profile shot. It shows their contours better, especially if they’re in a natural stance.
5. Use a neutral background
Most photographers put all their attention into their subject and forget about one crucial part—the background.
The backdrop plays an important role, and it is still part of the photo. Depending on how close or far away the subject is in the shot, the background is going to take up a fair amount of space in the final image.
The best backgrounds are neutral ones, to give focus to your subject. Soft mid-tone colors, like gray, are the most suitable. You can go for backgrounds with some texture to make it a little unusual, but don't go overboard with this idea. Overly busy environments can compete for attention with your main subject.
An excellent material to use is cloth, which is slightly mottled. You can use it anywhere, like over a fence or a couch. It creates an instant neutral background, but remember to wash the sheet often when you’re working with animals who are active and playful.
If shooting with a cloth background is not feasible, find the most neutral background available. A white wall or curtain are both acceptable. Just make sure the area has adequate lighting to produce a great photo.