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How To Take Dog Photos With YouTube Videos

Updated on September 5, 2012

Creating Great Dog Photos

In today's world of digital photography, it's easier than ever to create great dog photos. You don't need to take a class or even read a book. All you need is a willing canine subject or two, a camera and you're set to start taking great dog photos.

There are some elements to consider when you start dabbling in dog photography but all are relatively common sense and easy to apply in almost any situation.

The most important ingredient for taking great dog photos though is one some of us find hard to come by. That key element is patience.

This one factor can make your pictures or break your picture-taking ability because quite simply put, dogs are wiggly subjects to try and photograph. They are also unpredictable in their level of patience or willingness to be photographed.

On any given day, if you're trying to take dog photos and you find that you are lacking in patience, it's best to put away the camera and come back another time. Dogs sense our moods more than we realize.

The second most important ingredient in taking photos of pets is fun. If you have fun with taking dog photos, you're going to get better photos and feel more successful at it. The more fun you have taking photos, the more photos you'll take and coincidentally, the more your dog or dogs will participate actively!

Loving what you do in any aspect of life is almost always a guarantee for success but especially so in dog photography. Loving the subjects as I do makes sharing their pictures all the more fun for me. The more fun I have, the more pictures I take!

Setting Up Dog Photos

Sweet Griffin
Sweet Griffin
Denaya letting Gabby know what's up
Denaya letting Gabby know what's up
I've fallen and I can't get up
I've fallen and I can't get up

Setting Up Dog Photos

Taking dog photos seems to be an ongoing hobby of mine. I don't have to think very long or hard before grabbing one of my cameras to start shooting.

Some of your options when it comes to taking dog photos:

  • SLR digital camera
  • Point and shoot digital camera
  • Flip video or other camcorder (use still photos from the video)
  • Phone cameras
  • Zoom lenses
  • Tripod
  • Cameras that use film

I tend not to think of anything when I'm taking photos of my dogs except "I have to get that shot".

That said, I do try and factor in such things as

  • Location
  • Weather
  • Lighting
  • Time of day
  • Objects in the background or foreground
  • My dog's mood or level of alertness

This part of digital photography is called "composition" or the point where you decide how you want to compose your shot or shots. The above factors do play a role in snapping good dog photos even if you factor in being able to digitally enhance whatever photos you take.

Try for a "clean" background meaning you might not want a bunch of clutter behind your subject or in front of your dog to distract from the shot.

Think of it this way - you only want what is important in the shot to maximize what the photo says. Try different angles or shot positions to accomplish framing your shots to unfocus on backgrounds or foregrounds.

Zoom lenses and tripods can be useful as well in capturing up-close shots or holding your camera steady.

Digital Photography How To

Picture from above teaching the sit
Picture from above teaching the sit
Gabby morning playfulness
Gabby morning playfulness
Floor level lying on the floor (night)
Floor level lying on the floor (night)
Starting out fairly alert
Starting out fairly alert
Time for a nap
Time for a nap

Digital Photography How To and Dog Photos

When it comes to photographing dogs, you have many options. You can take pictures of them from above but sometimes the effect is not the best.

Take a look at the first picture shown here in this group of photos and you'll see what I mean. The first picture is a still picture from the training video I was doing with teaching Gabby to sit.

While it's a darling picture of my little munchkin, it is shot from above with me looking down on her. While it gives a different perspective and how I see her when I'm standing above her, it's not my favorite way to photograph my dogs.

However, the further I get down to Gabby's level, the better my shots get. The one where she is lying on her back was taken as I was starting to kneel on the floor to take the shot of her. I wanted to capture her wonderful carefree puppiness while she was waking up.

Taking photos at night can sometimes be a bit more challenging because of lighting issues. Switching your position to the floor though can give you great shots no matter what the lighting.

In the next set of photos, I was sitting on the floor and then lying on the floor shooting Gabby as she took a breather from her romps with Uncle Griffin.

While there is background "clutter" of the dining room table, and the table leg that could be cropped out of the pictures, the shots did focus in on Gabby and show her at ground level.....her level.

Getting down to a dog's level when you are taking dog photos is a great way to capture the "feel" of your dog and somehow incorporate their personality into the photo.

Focus on the eyes and be patient. Set up your shot or shots to bring out what part of your dog you want to accentuate in each "pose".

My key to success is to shoot multiple shots and just keep shooting. I like to approach the photo from different angles even in the same place. Rapid fire photography is not everyone's cup of tea but I find that it helps me get the most out of my dogs' antics and leaves me with some really great shots.

In the photo gallery of Gabby on the floor at night, you can see her go from alert to sleepy to out like a light.

It took only a matter of about 5 or so minutes to watch her go through her stages of nap time. It was fun to just sit and watch and even more fun to capture on film.

Action Dog Photos

Beginning of sequence
Beginning of sequence
End of sequence
End of sequence

How To Take Action Dog Photos

One of my favorite ways to shoot pictures of my dogs is on sports mode. I love the action shots because they show my dogs' beauty and their gracefulness.

The shots also show how cuddly my Griffin is and what a beautiful coat he has! Sometimes if I've taken a really good photo of Griffin, I feel like I can reach out and touch his soft-as-a-teddy-bear fur. That means I've accomplished my digital photography goal for that set of pictures.

Again, the key to capturing your dog or dogs in action is to try and stay on their level as much as possible though if they are a distance, standing up works just fine.

Use the "action" or "sports" setting on your camera because it will increase the shutter speed and not blur the photographs.

Then rapid fire away. Follow the dog or dogs with your camera as it will also enhance the feeling of motion and the movement your dog creates. I find that SLR cameras work better for this application but it may be just a matter of preference in my case.

Point and shoot cameras seem to take longer to reset and sometimes I feel that I've missed at least 2 or 3 shots whereas if I'm using the SLR camera, I've captured every nanosecond of the movement.

Zooming in or out also helps bring the dog or dogs into better view. Taking action shots takes a bit of practice because there is a lot of movement and at times it is hard to capture all of it.

I often use a video camera as well and then take out still pictures from the video frames.

While photographing dogs in motion can be challenging, if you get some great shots, you'll be hooked. As I said, for me, seeing Griffin's fur blowing in the wind makes it all worthwhile. Or that shot where his feet are totally off the ground!

Taking Funny Dog Pictures

For me, laughter is a great part of my life. I try and see the humor in things across the board and my dogs are no exception.

I have my own philosophy about each of their personalities and enjoy figuring out their little quirks. I try to get to know them from the moment they arrive at my house until the sad moment I have to say goodbye. In all the time between, I try and capture their essence on film and on video so I will never forget the spot they fill in my heart.

That said, I also have a little devilish streak that makes me want to take funny dog photos. Luckily, I've been blessed with dogs who are kind enough to indulge me....for a treat.

The pictures in this sequence are some that I shot with Griffin, my 2-year-old malamute using just a hat and a pair of glasses.

He started out being nothing but humiliated by the entire affair and was not going to cooperate at all. I didn't really want to push him to do something he didn't want to do but decided I'd add a piece or two of kibble and see if I couldn't entice him to see things my way. Lo and behold, a star was born!

It goes to show that with a little creativity, we can get our dogs to cooperate. I basically employed several tried and true commands with him such as "leave it" when I wanted him to quit trying to knock the hat off or "hold" when I didn't want him shaking his head to rid himself of the glasses.

No animals were harmed in the making of these photographs and Griffin did get his just reward by way of the kibble. He received a kibble for every little sequence that I was able to shoot and made me laugh in the process.

Part of being a dog owner is the joy you receive from your pet. Taking the time to sit on the floor and shoot pictures of mine is a great hobby. Just when I think I've taken enough pictures of them to last a lifetime, I see something else or think of something else and grab the camera.

Surprise your dog by taking pictures when they least expect it. Also set up shots by using a little creativity.

You never know what you're going to see when you download those dog photos!

How To Take Funny Dog Pictures

Griffin acting out On Golden Pond
Griffin acting out On Golden Pond
Griffin doing his gangster look ....."You'd love this guy....he's a good fella...he's a friend of ours...."
Griffin doing his gangster look ....."You'd love this guy....he's a good fella...he's a friend of ours...."
"Excuse me, what page are we on?"
"Excuse me, what page are we on?"
"What a fantastic presentation, Gabby - I never would have thought to illustrate it like that"
"What a fantastic presentation, Gabby - I never would have thought to illustrate it like that"
Oh vey - I'm so tired from reading!
Oh vey - I'm so tired from reading!
"Okay - I'm back - what's the next chapter?"
"Okay - I'm back - what's the next chapter?"

Summing Up Dog Photography

Taking great dog photos really isn't rocket science but it can be a great way to enjoy yourself and get to know your dog better.

Especially if you have a digital camera and a computer, you can photograph your dog to your heart's content and never have to spend a dime.

You might even get lucky and take the "money shot" and win yourself some dough for your expertise with digital photography and sharing your dog photos.

Remember these most important points and you'll be a success!

  • Be patient or try another day
  • Make sure your dog's mood is compatible with photo shoot time
  • Use natural light as much as possible with dog photos
  • Flashes are optional but they can alter the picture or scare the dog
  • Set up your shot to reflect what you want to show - the whole dog or just the face
  • Focus on the eyes if you're going for head shots - they speak volumes
  • Get down to their level when taking dog photos
  • Shoot, shoot, shoot - the more shots the better chance at a great one
  • Change up the angles - don't be afraid to frame shots at different angles
  • Minimize clutter in your pictures if possible to focus on the dog
  • Use "sports" or "motion" settings for action shots and shoot rapid fire
  • Have fun with your dog photos - praise often and reward them
  • Share your dog photo gems liberally with friends and family

By using the above techniques and suggestions, you will create memories of your dog or dogs to last a lifetime. 

If you have more suggestions you would like to share for those of us who enjoy dog photography, please leave them in the space provided below. 

Favorite Quote: I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive. ~Gilda Radner

Enjoy and Share Your Dog Photos

Whatta ya mean no more kibble today, mom?
Whatta ya mean no more kibble today, mom?

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