Photo of Golden Retriever dog playing in the creek.

Take Better Selfies With Your Pup.

by Kris Phillips

me2I’m going to let you in on the worst kept secret in photography. We hate selfies! And with good reason. Once upon a time if you wanted a good photo of yourself you had to get all dolled up, drive to the studio,and pay a professional. And then came social media and the evolution of the selfies. First it was just the bathroom mirror pics, then duck lips, and selfie sticks. People make crazy faces and gestures. Having said all that, here’s my dirty little secret…I take selfies. Now, you won’t see me posting them hourly on Facebook. And very rarely are they just because I think the world needs more of my face. Most of the time it’s to share where I’m going or what I’m doing with my circle of friends.

Camera's on a rock.

Camera’s on a rock.

And they usually include my hubby, my friends, and/or my pups. In fact since we started dating my husband and I have made a habit of using the timer feature of our camera every time we take the pups on a new adventure. So, if your going to do it anyway, and we both know you will, here are a few tips to make the most of your front facing camera, or really any picture you’re in.


Camera on the hood of the truck.

Camera on the hood of the truck.

I’m just going to assume you want to take selfies with your beloved fur-balls. And I’ll get to that in a second. But first start with your location. Look around for a good background. And if you’re taking pics with your pup set yourself up so there won’t be anything exciting behind them. Next figure out where you’ll put the camera. Eye level or higher will be most flattering for most people. If you’re looking down odds are good you’ll end up with the dreaded double chin. If you’re lucky you won’t have to hold your phone(or camera). Most regular cameras since the 80’s come with a self-timer mode. Forgot to tote along a tripod?10452382_1059644627385053_6309645613070058082_n I have found that the hood of my truck makes a great, albeit unwieldy, tripod for all those “look where we stopped on vacation” photos. Yes they will probably be crooked, but easy to fix with basic software like Picasa. Out on the trail? A handy rock or even your camera bag will make a good tripod. If you’re using your phone you might get lucky enough to have a voice activated camera. I won’t lie; I was pretty excited when I discovered this feature. It gives me a chance to take photos when I’m out playing with the dogs by leaning my phone on a fence rail. 

10676127_975817162434467_3585557247721317405_nNext: strike a pose! But for the sake of everyone who has to look at your pic, keep it natural. No duck lips!11267449_1145358455480336_3402540386437480593_n Think of something funny to achieve a natural smile. Tucking your tongue behind your front teeth is another trick. Try to keep it quick. The longer you try to hold a smile the less natural it will look. If there are wrinkles at the corner of your eyes it is a real smile. Grab some friends for even more fun.

 10959734_1041766869172829_8472187572367586813_nAnd now it’s time to add the pups. First and foremost don’t expect too much…if you can get them to look in the general direction of the camera call it a win! Be patient. Set your pet up next to you, like you would your girlfriends at a party. Tuck those leashes to the back. If your pup is a flight risk you might find it helpful to kneel on their leash. That way your hands are free. Put your arms around your pup so your hand falls low on their chest. Or lay your arm flat on their back if you need to keep a grip on that collar. If you try to force them to look by grabbing their head it’s not going to go well. And odds are good your pet won’t understand when you yell “hey look over there!”. Think you can hold their head in place? You’ll end up with what appears to be a stranglehold — Homer Simpson style. So instead you have to outsmart them. Toss a rock, stick, or snowball in the direction of the camera and hang on tight. Get lucky and you’ll catch their interest enough to get a great ears up & paying attention shot. If you’re unlucky you’ll knock your phone off a stump with a rock and your dog will run after it. You can sometimes use your surroundings to your advantage. If you’re hiking on a popular trail, set yourself up so that while your pup is fixated on the other dog coming up the trail you can snap your awesome selfie. Know that you’re probably going to have to make a few attempts, but don’t go crazy. Odds are your pics won’t be perfect so just embrace the moment.

Long drive home.

Long drive home.

Whether you’re on a cross-country adventure with your pup or just out for a Sunday stroll, you want to remember time spent with your furry loved ones. Just don’t get so wrapped up in taking pictures you forget to enjoy the moment.

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