There is nothing we love more in our lives than our dogs; sorry to our spouses and significant others, but when was the last time they ran a blind retrieve, stopped on a whistle, or delivered a bird to hand? We have an ever-present desire to photograph our dogs and show them off to our friends and family and banter with our buddies. We have worked so hard to refine and polish our pup’s skills and we want to make sure we’re showcasing them at their best.
Taking photos of your dog should first and foremost be fun and it should not detract or take over from your primary purpose of enjoying your time together. So don’t overthink it, don’t overdo it, and don’t get caught up in the technicalities of everything. Just get out there and have fun with your dog and document your journey together.
Back To Basics
Now that being said, there are a few fundamentals of photography to keep in mind that with a simple understanding can greatly improve the quality of your images and your enjoyment taking photographs.
- Before clicking away, take a minute to assess the situation and think about what you are wanting to capture and convey. What story are your trying to tell? Why is this interesting or how could you make something more interesting? How is the lighting and what is in the background? Are you in a good location to see some action or should you move into a better position?
- Try a new viewpoint, a new angle; get down on your belly, jump in the water, take that higher vantage point. Photos that offer a fresh perspective just look better.
- Be mindful of lighting. Where is the sun and how is it casting dark shadows or burning out the brighter highlights of your background?
- Avoid busy or distracting backgrounds; if it doesn’t add to the story, it’s taking away from it.
- Don’t be afraid to zoom out for a wide landscape view and put your dog in the context of the environment and the moment that surrounds them.
- Our dogs are quick, and moments are fleeting, so anticipating the action, applying a little forethought and putting yourself into proper position can mean all the difference between a powerful photograph and a simple snapshot.
Tools Of The Trade
The best camera you can ever have is the one in your hands when the moment presents itself. For some that may be a professional digital camera or action cam, but for most of us, it is the camera that comes fully equipped and highly capable right in our cell phone. Everyone carries a cell phone these days and believe it or not, they provide most of the functionality that modern higher-end cameras have. Take a minute before your next outing to explore the fancy features at your disposal such as touch-to-focus, pinch-to-zoom, time-lapse, slo-motion, HDR, panorama, portrait and burst modes.
Newer cell phones also offer robust photo and video editing software and allow you to create your own style as a digital artist. Keep it simple and clean up the brightness, contrast and clarity or dive head-first into color grading and creative filters to add your own unique signature to your shots.
Think Outside The Dogbox
Don’t get caught up in thinking you have to have a professional camera or expensive gear to get keeper shots of your dog. Many times, a memorable photo comes from being in the right place at the right time. Keep an eye out for the little details, aim for action, focus on the elements that evoke emotion, and attempt to tell a story without words. Why is this moment memorable and why would anyone else want to see it?
If you go afield with the intent to spend some quality time with your dog and create some memories, then you’ve already set yourself up for success. And just like running drills, developing an eye for photography takes practice and repetition. So take some time to familiarize yourself with the capabilities of your camera or phone and start shooting. Invite your significant other or family member to join you at your next training session or hunting trip and hand off the camera assignment to make sure you get some pictures of yourself with you dog in action. Just don’t forget to enjoy the journey; the ultimate prize is always watching your dog in their element doing what they love to do and reveling in your journey together.
To find out more about Chris and to follow his sport dog photography, head over to www.featherwindcreative.com and check him out on Instagram (www.instagram.com/featherwind_creative)