I’m a dog lover and I can’t imagine life without one or two. I love to photograph dogs, but you have to be patient, work quick and be willing to adapt.
Dogs never say “I don’t like my smile”.
Be patient with your dog. It takes a while for a dog to relax so you can get the right expression. If you are introducing your dog to a new location, let him sniff around for a while and get used to the surroundings. Make sure you have your camera ready and take a few test shots to make sure you have the right exposure. Then wait until you have the dog’s attention. Soft clucking noises will usually get the dog to turn to you with a quizzical expression. Don’t call the dog’s name because that will confuse him into thinking you want him in your lap.
Dogs don’t ask “Do I look fat in this collar?”
You don’t have to worry about making your dog look chunky but you do have to photograph him at the right angle. Get down to the dog’s level. I know when I'm photographing dogs that I should dress casually. I get to sit on the floor or lie on my stomach most of the session. Seeing your dog from his eye level gives you a whole new perspective.
Dogs don’t say “Your camera takes great pictures”.
It takes more than a good camera to get good pet portraits. It takes the help of a person who knows and understands dogs. I've been lucky enough to work with Anna Perez, owner of Crazy for Canines, and dog trainer extraordinaire. Anna understands dogs. She’s patient but firm with the animals. Good behavior is always rewarded. An extra person is necessary to get the dog into position. Just remember no matter how well behaved a dog is, you can only hold their attention for so long. Take breaks if necessary.
Dogs don’t say “You can just photoshop that out”.
While you want to minimize your time editing and retouching your images, you may have to photoshop something out. If you are in a public place or anywhere the dog could be in danger, the leash should always be kept attached. Have your helper hold the leash up off the dog to make retouching easier. Think of the leash and collar as wardrobe for the animal and coordinate them to the dog’s breed/personality and the background.
Dogs don’t ask “How much is that 8x10?” They always want a 20x30 canvas.