Behind the Scenes: Preparing to Photograph Dogs
Working with and photographing dogs requires a lot of patience and hard work! Below is a list of items that help me photograph dogs.
1. Prepare Gear: Make sure your camera is in good working order; your batteries are charged; your memory cards are cleared; and your lenses are cleaned.
2. Find Good Light: Whether you are working inside or outside, find good light. It will make all the difference in your images. If you are photographing inside, photograph the dog near a natural light source such as a window or french doors. I find it is best to raise the blinds, open the curtains and let the light in and it will make a difference in your photographs.
3. Treats: Bring natural treats to help keep the dog’s attention. (Prior to giving any treats, I always make sure that the dog does not have any allergies or food restrictions and I make sure to buy only treats made in the United States.) If the dog is not treat/food motivated, speak to the dog’s human and inquire as to what motivates his/her dog!
4. Toys: Ask to use toys to help get a dogs attention. Sometimes a squeaker toy works really well for getting and holding the dog’s attention.
5. Patience: The most important attribute one must have is patience while working with dogs. Each dog is different, and I find that each dog shows me who they are when I surrender and just let the dog be himself/herself. This approach often produce the most authentic images.
6. Be Present: Whenever I am photographing a dog my mind is solely focused on the dog I am photographing. My goal is to create authentic images. In order to be effective, I must stay present and really observe and interact with each dog in a way that elicits the dog’s personality.
7. Stay Physically Fit: Working with dogs requires one to stay in good shape. You have to be able to move quickly and sustain a lot of time on your feet and position yourself at awkward angles in order to get the shot you hope to achieve. Working for several hours non-stop can also be draining on your body.
8. Wear Comfortable Clothing and Shoes: Wear clothing that is comfortable along with comfortable shoes, which you can move easily in. Also, wear clothing that you do not care if it gets dirty or slobbered on by the furry friends!
9. Rest: Get plenty of rest. If you are well rested, you will be able to concentrate and focus better.
10. Hydration: If you are working outside in the sun photographing dogs, it is best to keep hydrated so that you do not become dehydrated.
With all this said, each dog is different and you have to be able to adapt to each dog and connect with each dog in a way where the dog can be himself/herself. I always hope for images that just occur serendipitously during the photo shoot, as these images are gifts that usually result in some of my strongest images.