Lately, and as a by product of working as a dog handler in a doggy daycare, I’ve been photographing lots of dogs. Really, many many dogs.
For the last couple of years, I’ve been incredibly inspired by Sarah Beth‘s fantastic pet portraits. She’s built a career out of pet portraiture, and does some amazing work capturing dog expressions in the studio. She’s basically my dog-photographer heroine.
I’d toyed with the idea of trying to do something similar with my photography- and I may still yet. Pet portraiture is definitely a niche market that is just opening up, and I love working with dogs. And photographing things. Not a bad marriage, right?
I have an itch to set up a studio space, and take some quirky dog-character shots on bright seamless, but for now I’m making do with “candid” (all dog photos are candid) dogs-on-location shots.
So, all of these photos were shot at daycare. I’m mostly trying to isolate their faces/ body- parts against the background via depth of field. Mostly, it works. The lighting has proven to be quite tricky, even shooting with an SB-600 in the hot shoe.
Some things I’ve learned:
- Most dogs have eye-goo. (Yuck) It’s easier to take care of it pre-photo, than to clone it out.
- Perspective is the key difference between a pet snapshot and a portrait. The most interesting photos are taken ‘on the dog’s level,’ directly from above (like an aerial), or from an extreme low angle looking up. At daycare, however, I can’t always successfully get ‘on the dog’s level,’ as every other dog will rush up and ruin the shot.
- Many dogs have developed flash-shyness from being photographed at home. Natural lighting, with no strobe, is best for these guys.
- As with most photos, filling the frame is the most effective way to maintain your viewer’s attention.
So, now you’ve met some of my dog buddies, and seen some of my favorite dog portraits.
I think this is the start of something new. What do you think?