Shooting Dogs...With A Camera!

This is our puppies first Christmas and I wanted to feature them on our holiday card this year and make up a few prints for some of our family members to have. I thought that I'd share a few tips on photographing dogs with you today...
The first thing that I do when I shoot my dogs (yes, with the camera!) is to try and focus in on the eyes. Dogs are so special in that I feel that you can really see their soul if you just look into those eyes that are so expressive...
 I had a couple of scenarios for staging thought out beforehand, as these two are puppies (now 10 months) and their attention spans are short. The more that you think out and prepare in advance the better. For the first series of shots I worked in the living room, which also serves as my photography studio when needed. I'm not a fan of dressing dogs up, so had a colorful old quilt in Christmas colors and a Santa hat as props on the chair...
I like to prop them up on a nice soft spot so that they are comfy, and yet high up off the ground so that they don't think about jumping down. I had an assistant on this shooting day which really helped...so if you are photographing see if you can bribe a friend into helping you...

 When I shoot lifestyle or homes for magazines or products for the website I always use a tripod. For animals I generally do not so that I can get around faster and work at different angles before they lose focus and get tired. Your assistant can get their attention and get them to look towards a certain direction, and also make silly ridiculous noises...
My second set up was in the master bedroom, as the light is good in that room towards the end of the day when I shot the "snow" photos. Here is how I set that up.
 I used my backdrop screen set up, but honestly if you don't have one you could easily tie a bed sheet or two across a rope suspended between two pieces of furniture or tossed over a rolling clothing rack. It doesn't need to be anything tall, since you'll be mostly working at the dog's eye level...
 Over the white sheet I tossed some white Christmas lights to achieve that lovely bokeh effect and make the scene look like the holidays...
A bench from the master bathroom came in handy for them to sit on, and I covered it with "snow" batting. I moved the white Christmas tree into the corner and that's it...easy! 
 Tip...move the subject a few feet away from the screen to get the soft snowy bokeh. I did nothing else...all of these photos are SOOC (straight out of the camera) and not retouched. Looks like snow to me...and to Bartley (above) who didn't mind one bit. 
Darby was so comfy on the "faux snow" that she fell asleep shortly after I snapped this. As I mentioned...it helps to have your plan in place before engaging the dog and generally they will cooperate and have fun...

I hope that you have a great week ahead. I'm am almost up to 500 posts on this blog...and will be doing a giveaway to celebrate that soon! 
xoxo,
Janet
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