Your dog is awesome. He, or she, super smart, bubbling with love, and overflowing with personality. You know that she would be the perfect mascot for Dogs on Deployment, and you plan on entering this year’s contest.
While your buddy is worth the cost of a professional photographer, you’d like to try and snap the image yourself, in your home or another place where she’s most comfortable. Unfortunately, whenever you try to capture your furry friend’s incredible essence in a photo, the results are not nearly as special as the subject. Despite having an okay device, the photos you’re ending up with just lack the intensity you’re trying to capture, and you’re close to throwing in the towel.
But don’t give up! Photographing your pet is possible, with the right tools and a good understanding of the photographic process, you can improve your pet photos.
In the world of photography, light is your very best friend. Natural light is one the best sources. It provides the soft, gentle brightness that can make your little guy look like the star he is. Even overcast days provide good lighting. Try it for yourself and see the amazing results.
Skip the Flash
It’s almost always better to skip the flash setting on a camera in favor of whatever natural lighting is available. The unnatural burst of light can actually create shadows where there are none and leave your pictures with an unpleasant contrast between lighter and darker colors. Plus, we’ve all seen the unnatural, and even creepy look, that the flash can give our pooch’s eyes.
Use Props…Or Not
A great way to enhance any photograph is to use props. Small items, such as toys or even plants, can make a shot even more beautiful. But they are NOT required to create a perfect shot. More than anything else, your dog should be the focal point of the shot. If you can’t seem to keep the shot focused on your dog when props are being used, simply take them out so that your baby can shine in the spotlight.
Stay at the Ready
Dogs are always moving around, and if you’re not ready for something photo-worthy, you might not have time to get a camera the next time Fido decides to do a handstand. To make sure that you’re likely to catch any amazing shots your dog sets up for you, it’s good to have a camera ready, especially when you’re both enjoying the kind of activity where something visually interesting is likely to happen.
It’s All About the Eyes
When capturing your pet’s portrait, be sure to focus on his or her eyes. The eyes are known as the windows to the soul; so what better place to focus when trying to capture a picture of your dog’s incredible personality. Apart from this, focusing on the eyes help to keep the dog’s face as the main focal point of the photo.
Remember to Balance
When you’re composing a photo, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’ve established some kind of balance within the picture. For example, if your dog is only in the left side of the shot, make sure that there is something in the right side that will add a visual presence so that the end shot won’t seem off-balance. A good way to make sure that you’ve got all sides covered is to place your pooch in the center of the shot.
Become an Editor
A plethora of photo editing apps and programs exist for users at any level, and the results can be utterly amazing. This is an especially beneficial tool when you’ve composed a good shot but are not seeing the kinds of colors or lighting effects you’d like. While some professional-strength editing programs can cost professional dollars, this is not always the case. In fact, some will cost you nothing at all.
Remember the Photo (and other) Rules
- Dogs only May be any adult breed dog (over 1 year old)
- Dog must be spayed or neutered unless involved with responsible dog showing or breeding
- Dog must be owned by an active duty or reservist military member or honorably discharged veteran
- Must be a family pet who meets our “Code of a Military Pet Owner”
- Photo must be high resolution (prefer no phone photos, +200dpi, larger than 1200px by 1200px, print quality)
- Portrait or candid style photo of military owned dog
- No more than two dogs may be shown in the photo for a single entry No humans allowed in photo
- Professional photographs preferred
- Photo must be original to owner
- Photo permissions must be given to Dogs on Deployment for reuse –
- Must be willing to be photographed in uniform with your dog for Dogs on Deployment imagery
- Must be willing to maintain a Facebook page for Dogs on Deployment’s 2015 Military Pet of the Year and Mascot for one year
- Must be willing to attend local events and speak on behalf of Dogs on Deployment to potential media contacts
No matter what kind of shots you’re getting, remember that the sole purpose is to show the world what a great dog you’ve got. You can’t do this if you’re too hung up on minor details. Don’t allow minor imperfections to outweigh the fact that your dog is naturally beautiful. Both of you should end your photo shoot with a big smile.