What A Picture

We think of our dogs as part of the family, so it’s no surprise that we want them in the family photos and we want great photos of them as individuals – and at The Labrador Rescue Trust we are always on the lookout for great pictures for our Calendar, Christmas Cards and Dog Shows.

But getting a good picture of your dog can be hard, so here are some easy tricks that can help you get better photos of your dog.

You will get the best shots if you use a camera with a fast shutter speed, so investing in a reasonably priced DSLR camera will make a major difference in the quality of your pictures. But even if you are using your phone to take pictures – here are some simple things you can do to get better pictures:

  • Get your dog used to the camera.
    Many dogs are wary of the sounds made by the camera. To get your dog comfortable with the camera and its noises, point the lens away from them and click the shutter. Every time your camera makes a noise, treat your dog. The pairing of the camera noise with a reward will make your dog more likely to let you take his photo.
    If you are using your phone, again, get your dog used to you having it in your hand and pointing it at them.
  • Use a low f-stop
    If you are using a DSLR this will help to blur the background and make your dog really stand out in the picture. It also helps disguise any clutter in the background that will distract the eye from the main subject.
    The more sophisticated mobile phones have a portrait option within their camera settings that allow you achieve this effect.
  • Think about lighting and background.
    If possible, photograph your dog in natural light or, if you are indoors, near a large window or with somewhere with ample lamplight. A flash can cause “green eye” and can be frightening to your dog. If you need to use a flash, opt for one that can be pointed up toward the ceiling rather than straight at your dog.
  • Get Outdoors
    Labradors and the outdoors are a natural fit. Not only will the light be better, but pets also tend to perk up when they’re outside. Try photographing your dog in the garden or on a favourite walk, or swimming in a favourite spot. For the best results, avoid harsh shadows by shooting photos early in the day or late in the afternoon, when the sun is lower in the sky, or by shooting on a cloudy day. If you’re shooting in direct
    sunlight, find a shady spot, like under a tree.
  • Go somewhere scenic
    For a great photo, why not go on a trip to the beach, or on a hill walk where you will be surrounded by beautiful scenery!
  • Get an action shot
    Photos of Images of dogs lounging around the house don’t always capture their personality. Try taking an action shot of them running, jumping, swimming, chasing after a toy or catching a treat in mid-air. But you’ll have to practice this to get a great shot!
  • Get down at your dog’s level.
    Rather than forcing your dog to look up at the camera put your camera at the same height as your dog’s face for a more intimate portrait. This may mean getting down on your knees or lying on the floor, or persuading your dog to sit on a piece of furniture.
    You’ll need to practice this because when you are down at his/her level, your dog may want to investigate the camera!
  • Keep your dog in focus.
    For the best photos of your dog’s face, make his eyes the main focus.
  • Get up close and personal
    Experiment with really close-up pictures, which are a great alternative to the usual pet-portrait type images. An image where you can see a wet nose or the expression in their eyes, or the detail of their coat are very striking.
    If you have a DSLR you might want to use a lens that allows you to do this. Again many mobile phones have a portrait function that may help. Again….you will need to practice so that your dog is not alarmed by something close to their face
  • Let your dog be himself.
    Rather than placing your dog in an uncomfortable stay and forcing him/her to look directly at the camera try to photograph them doing what they naturally do. Photographing the things your dog does on a daily basis — playing with a favourite toy, snoozing in bed, lying halfway up the stairs  — can become an opportunity to capture their unique personality.

  • Use food and toys to your advantage
    If your dog just refuses to look at the camera, try using treats and toys to grab their attention.
  • Take them out for a walk first

If you are doing a close up or a posed portrait, your dog will be more likely to stay still and tolerate a photo shoot when they’re worn out.

  • Be Relaxed yourself
    When your dog does something cute or funny, the simple act of reaching for your camera will often make them break the pose. As a general rule, try to move slowly when photographing them and avoid making loud noises. Animals can sense a person’s energy and are more likely to be mellow if you are.
  • Make them smile
    When your dog breathes through it’s mouth, it can resemble a big smile. So, try playing a quick game to make your dog start panting before it’s portrait. Scratching their favourite spot may elicit a grin if you’re lucky!


Happy Snapping – and remember to share your favourites with us!

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