Oh boy, puppies, puppies, everywhere!

Lab puppies

I've done a lot of pet photography but this was my first chance at shooting a litter of puppies. The breeder had invited me into her home and although I would have much preferred to shoot in my own studio, I understood her concerns about taking the puppies out of their environment. For the first shoot the puppies were only three weeks old, their eyes were barely open and they weren't moving too quickly yet. We set up in the large kitchen on the counter and I was able to get some great isolations.

Yellow lab puppies

Since I quickly realized I wouldn't be getting any cute expressions from such young puppies, I mentioned to the breeder it would be nice if I could capture them while they were sleeping. She said she could arrange that easily and then proceeded to take each puppy in her hands, throw it high up in the air, (all while safely holding on to it), then dropping it way down low. Just like that, one, two, three, four puppies, fast asleep.

Four sleeping puppies

Apparently a little known trick that works only on very young puppies. I'm not saying I recommend it, I'm merely sharing the process of how I got the picture.

Four weeks later I returned to photograph the same puppies a second time. This time I hoped they would be more aware of their surroundings, specifically me and my camera, so I could get some of those cute puppy expressions. As soon as I arrived with all my equipment, I realized that the kitchen counter was no longer an option. The puppies had doubled in size and were running around everywhere.

Two lab puppies

I knew that if I couldn't bring them up to my eye level, the only other option was for me to get down onto the floor. I had brought a large background which we taped to a cabinet and laid out onto the kitchen floor. I was very fortunate to have the help of three people and there was no way I could have done it without them. Two helpers would pose the puppies on the background over and over again, then jump out of the way very quickly each time, so that I could get the shot.

Lab puppy

A third helper stood over me as I laid on the floor and used a variety of noise makers, (including pots and pans), to get the puppies attention.

Yellow lab puppy

It was exhausting to say the least, at one point I had two puppies chewing my feet and a third on my camera strap as I was trying to capture puppy number 4. But it was all worth it as I was able to get some great shots. The breeder was thrilled the results and has invited me to come back in nine weeks to photograph a new litter, chocolate labs this time. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we can work outside. In the mean time I'll be on the lookout for new props and backgrounds.

Photo credits: Barbara Helgason.
Barbara Helgason
View blog View portfolio
  • Hannamariah
  • British Columbia, Canada

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March 01, 2010

Great story and adorable puppies. Hope you sell loads! They would make great posters and cards. Sandra


January 30, 2010

Lol at the "falling asleep" process! Very cute photos.


January 27, 2010

My favorite subject! Puppies are always great but at the age of nine they are great to shoot too, see my portfolio. Looking forward to see more of this!


January 20, 2010

So adorable, I want to scoop them up and hug them!


January 14, 2010

Adorable, can hardly wait to see the chocolate labs


January 12, 2010

SOOOOOOOOOOOOO cute.Thanks for sharing


January 10, 2010

Puppies are great subjects, but they love to chew flash cables too..


January 10, 2010

Simply adorable! Good luck with them.


January 09, 2010

They are beautiful!:) Love them! :)


January 08, 2010

Great shots! They're so cute! Well-done)


January 07, 2010

Thanks everyone. I was put in contact with this breeder by a friend. It would be easy enough to find local breeders in your area if you offer them free photos for the opportunity to photograph their puppies.


January 07, 2010

I love dogs, these are great! :)


January 07, 2010

Stunning pics, sure they will do very well.


January 07, 2010

They are very cute,congratulations for your photos and good luck with them!


January 07, 2010

OMG they are so so so cute and pictures are great!!!


January 07, 2010

a lovely dog.


January 07, 2010

they are so cute though!! I' sure it was lots of fun and totally worth it :)


January 07, 2010

Sounds like it was a nice job and the result looks definitely like a great job!
What more can you hope for? Great sales of course ! Good luck to you and the breeder :-)


January 07, 2010

Hopefully someone had a point and shoot to grab some shots of the process! Kinda like bloopers in a movie. Very entertaining. You got some great shots. Thanks for sharing your experience.


January 07, 2010

wow, these are excellent - def well worth the hassle and your feet getting chewed - i'm sure they'll sell well too :) well done and happy new year