Pet Photography: Getting that look with dogs

Part of my income stream comes from pet photography. I am sure I could make much more shooting weddings but I am not fond of Bridezillas. I get along much better with animals.

When photographing dogs, owners want a picture of their pet that looks alert and responsive. When you put most dogs in a studio or in front of a camera; they become a bit nervous and look a bit un-natural. It takes a bit of time working with them but most will eventually calm and be more natural in front of the camera.

But you do not want them to relaxed. They need to be alert. How do you get those alert looks?

Most owners believe the best way is for the owner to call or make faces to the dog. Yes, you may get some good looks but the dog will seldom be looking in the direction you desire. You, the photographer need to be the one attracting the dogs attention. Usually, it is best to have the owner go into the next room or take a short hike so you can be alone with the dog.

One technique to get an alert look is with stuffed toys. You can toss the toy up and photograph the dog as he watches the toy in the air. It is usually best to toss the toy a bit behind yourself; if you toss it forward the dog will usually jump after the toy.

I use a variety of noisemakers to get that look. I find I need a variety because after they have heard the sound of one noisemaker they are not as surprised the next time they hear it.

What are noisemakers? Some are really simple; like a potato chip bag hidden behind your back; crumple the bag and watch for the look. I like to purchase animal calls from the hunting store; like duck whistles, hog calls, etc. I also like to go to party stores and buy the birthday noisemakers. All of these are excellent to get that surprised alert look.

Best of luck with your bundle of fur.

Photo credits: , Moose Henderson.

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February 05, 2011


Great tips and photos! I can't wait to try these.

January 29, 2011


I'll wait for that John, thanks in advance :)

January 28, 2011


I see your the canine expert here. Good show.
As for me, I don't shoot many animals, not even with a camera, lol..
but last christmas season I thought I try it for fun and got a new model too to pose for me with her pet dachshund. You can view it in my portfolio.
We really had a great time shooting , I couldn't tell who enjoyed it most...
but from the photos you can tell it was the four legged model who obviously enjoyed it most of all, lol.
Happy Chinese New Year Feb 3. ... woof woof ! :P

January 22, 2011


Thanks John ! Some great tips there :o)

January 21, 2011


Nice pictures with great info, thanks fore sharing! I find this useful.

January 20, 2011


Thanks for sharing your tips!!!

January 20, 2011


great blog!

January 20, 2011


Enjoyed your blog! Love the look on some of the dogs' faces so you're obviously doing something right (behind your back...)

January 20, 2011


Great tip! Thanks for sharing.

January 20, 2011


Yes, all good advice. I usually just say "treat" and my dog becomes alert. Maybe I should bring a hog call home, and see what she does:)

January 20, 2011


Thanks for the advice and great work :-)

January 20, 2011



Aginger, I will try to do a blog about photographing cats; cats are a bit different and require different techniques.

January 20, 2011


Great photos! I only have a young cat, it' s impossible to stay before a cam like these dogs... :)

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