photo of dog

Pet photography has many guidelines, but it seems to me that much of the learning curve is trial and error. For starters, if you don’t like animals then needless to say things will be a challenge. Every individual pet is a bit different in personality and none care two bits about your camera. In fact, some might be spooked by it or a flash if you happen to use one.

So how did I get the dog you see here to look up and stay calm? It was easy actually, I held up a doggy snack with my left hand and shot with my right hand. Posture issue solved instantly. I suggest hand-held shots, if possible, because you can move around with the animal and capture moments at ground level.

The lighting was fortunate. My home studio has amazing window light at almost all times of the day. I bounced side window light off a sliver reflector that provided a 45 degree rear fill. I love the look of soft light in portraits and that is what I was after on this photo. My goal was the less post-processing, the better. Natural light sometimes looks best in portraits, in my opinion, when the final photo itself is the original image or close to it. Too much post-processing can take away natural softness. The image you see here is the RAW converted to jpeg.

Since the dog wouldn’t sit in one place for long I used a 85mm lens at f/1.8 to blur the carpet and make it an easy DIY backdrop. When he was facing the other direction I used the same effect on a white wall. This made composition simple and brings you to the dogs eyes, where window catch lights preserve his expression.

I think the most important lesson learned with this is to have fun and get as many shots as you can. As always, the more good photos you have of a subject the better you’ll look too.