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Ten Tips for Taking Great Dog Photos
By Julee Meltzer
Have you ever taken photos of your dog thinking that they would come out terrific and then been totally underwhelmed when you look at the results? If the answer is yes, then I think I can help. As a photography teacher and dog nut, I am often asked how I get so many great shots of my dogs. The following techniques can help you get really great shots of your dog—inside the RV and outside in nature.
Familiarize your dog to the camera. In order to get natural photos of your dog, he must be comfortable with the equipment out. Let your dog have a close look at your camera. Turn it on and click the shutter several times until he's familiar with the sound. Also, hold the camera while letting your dog smell and sniff the camera (don't let him lick it!). Once your dog is comfortable with the camera being out, you'll be able to take all the candid pictures you want.
Take a ton of pictures of your dog before your camping trip and during your camping trip.
Assuming you're using a digital camera, take a lot of photos. However, there are two caveats to remember when taking a lot of digital photos: 1) make sure your battery is charged fully, and 2) make sure you have enough memory to store lots of photos. Also, make sure you don't keep all of the bad shots on your computer because photos can take up a lot of room on your hard drive.
Just as with babies, a portrait photo always comes out better if you take it approximately at eye level. That way, the photo won't seem like you're looking down on your dog while he is in an awkward pose looking up. In fact, one of my favorite photos of my dogs is one that I took of them at the top of the RV steps while I was on the ground. They are looking down on the camera; it makes them look so regal! (The RV doorway is a great place for pet pictures, too.)
Think about the background.
Try to find an appealing and uncluttered background for your dog portrait. Simple is better. Also, make sure there are no trees or branches in the background. This might be hard to do on a camping trip at a wooded RV park. Otherwise, it might look like they're growing out of your dog's head. Also, you can use the portrait setting (or a large aperture setting) to blur the background and put all of the focus and emphasis on your dog's face.
Look for the sun.
Find the sun and put it to your back. This puts the sun on your dog's face and allows people to see more of your dog's features. You can also take some nice photos with the sun on either side of your dog as well. Another of my favorite photos of a side profile of my dog with a cactus behind. Her face is in perfect focus and the cactus is slightly blurred, so the silhouette is beautiful.
Don't use a flash inside.
If you can find another source of light inside your RV, you should use that instead of a flash. A flash can cause red-eye in dogs, too. Try using light from windows or an indirect lamp. If you have a removable flash, try bouncing the light off the walls or ceiling.
Leave some room.
If you're taking an action shot or a photo of your dog doing something, leave some room around the dog, especially in front of it. The overall photo will be more attractive if it looks like the dog has room to move forward (as opposed to being cramped and cut-off).
Get as close as possible.
You don't even have to get your dog's
entire face in the photo. Of course, getting real close to your dog can sometimes be a problem because he may try to sniff the camera. Here's where a telephoto lens can come in handy. You can be a little bit away from your dog and still get a great close-up by zooming in on his face. And, contrary to popular opinion, you don't have to have the entire head or body in the frame. Just, make sure that you cut it off at a good point, for example, don't cut their legs off at mid thigh.
Use a color-appropriate background.
If your dog is all black, obviously you should consider using a light background for your dog's photos. Also, try to find a natural environment in or out of your RV that complements your dog's coloring. For example, our red and tan German Shepard Dog looks terrific in the fall with leaves all around. Camping with dogs affords lots of great scenery to choose from.
Experiment and have fun.
Don't be afraid to try something new. Some of the best photos we've taken are purely experimental and silly. Also, play with your dog inside or out of the RV while someone else snaps photos. You'll be guaranteed to get some good ones.
You don't have to follow every one of these tips to improve your pictures, just start with one or two and you will be amazed at how great your dog photos are starting to look. Camping with dogs is a fantastic way to bring your best friends with you, and what better than to capture the camping memory with some well taken dog photos.
So, grab your dog, get your camera, jump in your RV, and click away.
Pick up your copy of
Camping and RVing with Dogs
, by Julee & Jack Meltzer, for more tips like this.