Tips on Taking Great Puppy Portraits

We have just got our second Labrador puppy this year. Our last chocolate male Labrador Sam, we were shooting photographs with film. We lost most of his puppy pictures to a bad roll of film. Shooting photographs with digital now is much easier to get lots of great puppy pics.

My number one tip is shoot lots of photographs of your puppy. When they are puppies there is not too much time during the day when they are laying around waiting to have their picture snapped. I am watching my 14 week yellow pup grow everyday now. As dog owners we want to have lots of shots to look back on when they get bigger. So take lots of shots to make sure you capture those fleeting moments.

When they are not in motion they are usually sleeping. So my second tip is to run them around and get them a little tired before you shoot. They will be more likely to lay and chew on a stick for you’re when they have that energy run out a little prior to your session.

Next you want to get down to their level. This will mean you are going to have to lie prone on your stomach in order to get the shot. Shooting down on your pup will give you an interesting angle but you do not want all of your photographs from the same point of view. In order to get those calendar portrait shots you need to have the camera on the level of your subject. Unless your pup is on a bed or some furniture this means getting down on the floor or ground.

Next you want to fill the frame with your subject. This translates into either getting in close to your puppy or zooming in. Most of the time what you see on the lcd screen or through the view finder, with a digital camera, is about 80 to 90 percent of the whole image. If you leave too much space on the sides of your subject you will likely take the viewers attention away from the subject and have the subject smaller than you intended. Fill the screen with your subject and you will get some beautiful shots.

One of the golden rules of professional dog portrait photography is to make sure the eyes are sharp. This means you will focus on the eyes drawing the viewer’s attention to them. With autofocus mechanisms you will need to make sure you have the screen indicators on the eyes when shooting.

A more advanced tip is to use a shallow depth of field in your photograph. This will produce a shot that the subject, your pup, is in focus while the background is softly out of focus as not to distract from your subject. If you have a digital SLR camera this will mean using a smaller aperture by setting the aperture setting to 5.6 or below. If you are using a point and shoot camera you may have a portrait mode that will automatically do this for you.

To recap:

  • take lots of photos
  • get to your pups level
  • get close
  • fill the photo with subject
  • focus on the eyes
  • use shallow depth of field

Most of all have fun; your pup grows way too fast and will be a big dog before you know it. Make sure you have lots of photos to look back on as you continue your journey with your dog.

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