8 Tips for Taking Amazing Outdoor Dog Photos with Your Smartphone - Firefly Books Blog

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8 Tips for Taking Amazing Outdoor Dog Photos with Your Smartphone

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8 Tips for Taking Amazing Outdoor Dog Photos with Your Smartphone


A Guest Blog by Valerie Howes 


Valerie Howes is a photographer and dog lover. She runs the instagram account @valhowesdogphotos, where you can see her gorgeous photos of dogs living their best life on Fogo Island, where she lived for almost two years. She recently returned to Toronto and founded Wild + Ruff Dog Photography, a boutique service offering bespoke wall art and albums of dogs in natural settings. 




1. Get down to your dog's level

The perspective you get off a dog, while lying on your belly or crouched low is so much more flattering than the one you get snapping from human height. You can even make little dogs like chihuahuas look small and mighty from down there, and it's more visually interesting to get immersed in any dog's world from dog level.




2. Shoot during golden hours

The softest most flattering light outdoors comes from the sun's glow at golden hour (an hour or so after sunrise and about the last two hours before sunset). Light in the middle of the day is harsh and can cast lots of bright spots on the top part of your pup as well as creating stark shadows. 




3. Or shoot when it's cloudy

When the sky is overcast, the cloud cover acts as a filter, so you have more flexibility around shooting hours. That said, you may not have such an interesting background, if the sky is too grey and flat. On grey days, I like to have less sky in the background and more natural elements like rocks and foliage.




4. Check the lighting is even

Ideally the sun is shining from behind you, so the front of your dog is evenly lit. You can also work with the light coming from behind your dog for an interesting backlit effect that creates a rim of light around your dog that separates it from the background. This works well for dogs that are inclined to squint when facing the sun. Unlike humans, dogs don't look so hot when sidelit, so try to avoid that, unless they're doing something so cute or funny that your priority is capturing the moment, not creating a polished portrait. And rather than have part of your dog's body in sunlight and part in shadow, try and get your dog to sit, lie or play for the camera in an evenly lit (or shaded) area.




5. Tidy up the spot where your dog is posing

I sometimes clear away the odd extra long grass blade or dead flowers or foliage on the spot, so the view of my dog is clear and I don't have to do tricky Photoshop jobs later. Ideally there's nothing obscuring your dog's face... especially the eyes.




6. Catch your dog in action

If your dog can safely be off leash, throw a stick or a ball in the direction you want them to run, or have someone call them from behind you to get the dog running in your direction. Dogs look fantastic in motion: running, jumping and playing. And for puppies and more active (or not so well-trained) dogs, it's easier to keep things natural than try to wrangle them into a stationary position. If your dog does not have perfect recall, it's important only to let them off leash in a safe and enclosed space.




7. Work those puppy eyes

If you get your dog into a sit, then hold a treat up near your phone camera or call the dog's name to get their attention, you can stand right above them and use an extreme top-down camera angle to capture their eyes looking wide and their gaze, adoring, in a "puppy-eyes" shot. Tip: use those treats for whenever you want to keep your dog focusedor a favourite toy if your dog is more play driven.





8. Pop your dog on a log

It's easier to get a dog to sit still for their beauty shot if you have them sit or stand elevated off the ground. Logs, big rocks, boxes, walls, and park benches, can be used to get your dog up on something and buy you a few extra seconds of stillness to take your shot. This is especially effective for puppies, who are still too young to sit very long. Just don't force your dog into an intimidating situation that will make them feel (and look) anxious. Coax them with a treat, so they can get up themselves and find their balance in a natural way.


Want more adorable dog pictures to inspire your next canine photoshoot? “Take Me Home: Portraits of Homeless and Rescued Dogs” by Andrew Grant contains 265 photographs that capture the personalities and sweetness of various breeds. All were captured by state-of-the-art equipment and are a joyful celebration of the magic of dogs.


Get the book: 

b2ap3_thumbnail_9780228103042-1.jpgTake Me Home: Portraits of Homeless and Rescued Dogs

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