Photo of Golden Retriever dog playing in the creek.

Pro Tips For Better Dog Photos

by Kris Phillips

PuparazziUnless you’re a celebrity you probably don’t have a photographer following you around 24/7 to capture all your dogs best adventures. Whether you’re summiting your latest 14er or enjoying a craft beer at your favorite dog friendly brewery you may want to snap some pics of your best friend to share on social media. But getting non-fuzzy photos of that adorable fuzzy-butt might be a challenge. Here’s my pro tips for more successful pet pics.

Pro Tip 1: Make it fun and be fast!

We’ve all seen the behind-the-scene expose on your favorite social media influencer who snaps 100 selfies just to get the perfect “candid” shot. Don’t be that guy. Your dog may wear out quickly and develop “photographer’s dog syndrome*” if you’re constantly demanding they sit still and pose when they’d rather be exploring. Use a treat or toy to get their attention and the shot you want, and then move on to having fun. Even during a photo session I ask dogs to stay put only as long as absolutely necessary. Young, old, and high energy dogs often have very short attention spans. So the faster you snap that pic & move on, the happier they will be to pose for you the next time. All too often I hear from dog photographers who are just starting out that their own dogs are now refusing to cooperate for photos. It’s usually just a case of doggy burnout, too many photos and not enough treats to make it worth the dogs while. Even my own dogs only get a full session a couple times a year. With lifestyle photos limited to 5 minutes or less at a time in between. So if you really want to make your pup an IG star be sure to make their photo taking super-fun with lots of praise and lots of treats.

(This photo made possible by the dedicated training of the 4-packs Mom, Morgan)

Pro Tip 2: Stay or Wait! 

Tip 2 starts long before you even have your cell or camera in hand. Teaching your dog one simple command will make taking their photo a million times easier. “Stay” or “Wait” is an easy command to teach and the better your dog gets at it the better your odds of snapping that IG perfect pic. Start with asking a command they know like sit or stay. Then tell them stay or wait, dealers choice. Hold the treat for a moment. Then give it to them with big praise “good wait!!!” Then gradually increase the time you ask them to hold for, and move further and further from them. As your dog begins to master the wait, move outdoors or crouch down- these will further challenge them. A good solid wait will give you time to get the photo you want and even adjust for better composition.

Pro Tip 3: Technology Rocks!

Use the technology iPhone gave you! Depth of field is the technical term for when your subject is in focus and the background is blurry. In the cell phone camera world it’s called Portrait mode, or selective focus if you have an Android OS. This mode will allow you to focus on your subject and then blur out the distracting background.

Pro Tip 4: Down Girl!

One of the keys to getting great photos of your dog is to get down to eye level, or lower. This can be challenging if you haven’t mastered Tip 2. Because the second you are on your dogs level she’s going to think “PLAY TIME!!!” But with a little patience and a quick shutter finger you’ll be surprised how much better your dog photographs from eye level. If you can’t lay all the way on the ground, consider asking your dog to climb up on a boulder, bench, or fallen tree. Just keep safety in mind and don’t put her anywhere she could fall and get hurt. If you’re in a wide open setting try to get your dogs head above the horizon line. (The line where the sky meets the ground)

Pro Tip 5: Check Your Background!

Oh the agony of getting that perfect shot only to realize there’s a branch growing out of your dogs head, or a port-a-potty ruining your picturesque park view. Take just a moment to to look at your background and adjust if necessary.

Pro Tip 6: Don’t Mandate Eye Contact!

We all love those shots where your dog is looking directly into the camera, almost into your soul. But images of them looking away can be just as powerful. Photography shouldn’t just tell a story, it should elicit a feeling. Some of my favorite shots are of my dogs looking off into the distance. If you’re going for this effect you want to frame your photo so that there’s space for your dog to look into. These are especially great when your background is epic.


So to wrap it all up. The most important factor is to have fun and capture your dogs personality. Whether that’s stoic, playful, or sassy!


Dog Years Fly By So Fast- Get my top 10 tips for better dog pictures without spending $$ on a new camera

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