"My Dog Would Never Sit For A Photo!"
If you're a pet owner, my guess is that you've said this before! If you're a pet photographer, my guess is that you've heard this a thousand times!
On my website, I have one page dedicated to dog owners and one for cat owners where I reassure them about any behavioural issues they may be worried about when it comes to investing in pet photography. Owners often tell me they were hesitant to book until they read these pages. You can find them on my home page or at the bottom of my dog and cat portfolios. However, in this post, I will explain everything you need to know if you're a dog owner.
You want to book a session and achieve beautiful images of your gorgeous pooch, but you are sure that your dog will play up, refusing to obey any orders and cause absolute chaos.
Well, I have news for you - most dogs do precisely that! This very fact can lead to some of the most amazing and natural photos. I love to take pictures of dogs doing what they do best, enjoying life. I honestly can't express enough how there is no need to worry about the level of training your dog or dogs have. I'm used to dealing with many different dog characters, including rescue dogs with no training and limited social skills. Having developed ways to handle different situations, I have plenty of tricks up my sleeve to get the results you dream of! I aim to achieve a range of poses in your final image selection, so I don't particularly need your dog to sit the whole time!
First of all, safety. About 90% of the dogs I photograph are kept on leads (avoid harnesses for best results). Unless your dog has excellent recall and you're 100% confident in your dog's abilities or, if we are in an enclosed area, I am happy to have dogs off-lead. But the truth is, having your dog on a lead makes both our jobs a lot easier. You don't have to call them back every time they wander off since this is what they are used to when on walks. And I don't end up with a lens full of slobber because as soon as I've crouched down to their level, they want to come and say hello! As much as I enjoy puppy cuddles, this won't help us get the results you want!
Keeping dogs on leads helps with control, and they generally look to you more for guidance on where we're going, stopping, looking, sitting, etc.
Leads and even owners can be edited out using tools or blending other images together in Photoshop.
(Above) Once we got this shot of Lottie, I asked her owner to step out of the frame. I then took a picture of the background and merged the two photos in Photoshop. I use a similar method when compositing multiple pets together. I am always willing to get the whole shot in the camera first, but we all know that sometimes getting your pets to sit next to each other, looking in the same direction, even sounds exhausting! No need to panic though, we'll photograph the dogs separately.
Camera Gear. Aside from outstanding image quality, my camera is also FAST, a must when photographing animals. The shutter speed is the length of time the camera's shutter is open. For most of the time, I'll have my shutter at about 1/1600 - 2000th of a second; however, the highest it can go is up to 1/8000!
(Below) Here is an example of a bee in flight (1/3200) which I took last summer. Its wings are frozen in motion. Your dog may only have the capability of sitting or looking directly at me for a split second but trust me, sometimes that's all I need! So don't worry if you have a young, bum-wiggling puppy or just an energetic dog. In my session guide, which you'll receive when you inquire, I always suggest that you take them out for a walk before your photography session for energetic dogs; this might help take the edge off if they've already burned some energy.
Pet photography is repetitive. I don't expect your dog to be a top model. That's not what my sessions are all about! I want to capture your dog's personality and beauty in a detailed and artistic way for you to treasure for a lifetime. It will usually take a few tries before we get the shot, and that's okay! I like to take short breaks during the session while we move onto the next shooting spot so that your dog doesn't get bored. It's essential throughout the session to keep them engaged. My sessions aren't limited to one hour, and it's purely a guide; this is the average time in which most dogs will cooperate. If we can carry on for a bit longer, then we'll go for it. However, sometimes they also show signs that they've had enough, and we'll end the session there.
I really hope this has helped at least some of you who have been keen to book a session but have been holding back. If there is something else you're worried about and stopping you from having a pet portrait session, feel free to get in touch, and we can work out the issue together!