PICTURE THIS: PHOTO TIPS BY MEL HAMMONDS
FETCHING IMAGES PET PHOTOGRAPHY
It may seem a daunting enough task to photograph dogs; however, puppies have some specific challenges that are important to keep in mind when planning a photo shoot. Puppies generally do not know their names or commands, have short attention spans, and may not respond to the usual tactics to get our subjects to look at the camera.
Tip #1: Safety First.
Puppies have specific immunization needs and should not be out in public areas before a certain age due to concerns for exposure to potential illnesses. Also, use care if incorporating props into your shoot since puppies will attempt to eat everything (including your gear). They will also launch themselves off any high surface, so have an assistant if you plan to place a puppy on a table or other structure. Make sure the areas you choose for your shoot are free from potential hazards.
Tip #2: Have Realistic Expectations.
Puppies, like young children, are difficult to place into a specific pose. You will frustrate yourself to no end if you expect to capture that “perfect” image. Plan to have fun with the shoot and attempt to capture typical puppy behaviors such as playing and sleeping. Spend some time in the beginning interacting with the pup so that he or she gets used to you and your camera. You can also use this time to find out what your subject will respond to in terms of treats and noises that may help you capture their attention when shooting. However, don’t overuse the motivators because they will stop responding once the novelty wears off.
Tip #3: Tire Them Out (If Possible).
Puppies have incredible energy levels and move very quickly. In order to slow them down a bit for your shoot, spend some time playing beforehand. You are still going to require a fast shutter speed to keep your images in focus, and you may want to try using your camera’s Shutter Speed Priority mode. Remember that the more light you have to work with, the faster your shutter speed can be in order to freeze the action.
Tip #4: Get on Their Level.
Plan to get on the ground and shoot from a variety of angles. Be ready to move quickly and change positions often. Because it is so hard to get them to look up at you, being on their level will allow you greater opportunities to capture entire faces and super cute expressions.
Tip #5: Let the Puppy Lead.
Once you’ve chosen your safe area for the shoot, let the puppy lead the way. He or she will begin to explore and play. Again, it’s helpful to have some assistants around to help keep the puppy contained in a certain area or to redirect. Photograph them doing what they choose to do, and you will end up with fun and natural images.
Tip #6: Go Slow When Handling Scared or Timid Pups.
Very young puppies may be frightened in new surroundings. They may shy away from squeaky noises and even treats from a stranger. They may find you and your camera very intimidating even after spending time together. Taking them away from their loved one to place them in a strange spot because it’s the perfect background leads to a terrified expression and a tucked tail. In cases such as these it might be helpful to back away and use a telephoto lens while the puppy explores with their caregiver nearby. Have the owner hold the puppy with his or her head popping over the parent’s shoulder, move in, and capture a close up. Use a blanket or sheet as your background and place it across their parent’s lap or chest and have the pup sit in their lap. Wait until the pup falls asleep; sleeping puppy pictures can be adorable!
Tip #7: Try Again Another Time.
Not everyone has this option, but just catching your subject on a different day or time of day can make a world of difference. Puppies grow and change quickly. Be patient, and keep practicing!
Check out some ADORABLE puppy photos by our resident photo expert, Mel Hammonds of Fetching Images Pet Photography below!