10 Photography Tips for Frame-Worthy Dog Photos

I’m obsessed with taking photos of my dog. I have at least 4,000 photos on my computer, and that’s not counting the ones taking up space on my iPhone. Whether we’re outside playing ball or lounging on the couch, I just have to whip out my camera and snap away. He actually knows when I’m taking a photo, as he’ll purposely look the other way (unless I have a treat, of course). 

If you’re like me, you want to hang some photos of your pooch on the wall, but those grainy iPhone photos don’t cut it. So, after thousands of photos taken, here are my tips for taking the best shot of your pet (and yes, including using your smartphone or iPhone!). The end result? A beautiful photo in your favorite room. 

*All photos listed are my own* 

1. Do not use a flash
. Natural lighting is always the best bet. It’s the most flattering, and Fido be captured in his best light. Using a flash can scare a dog, as they aren’t expecting it and might blind their vision for a couple seconds (like it does when we take a picture).

2. Be Candid. Too hard to get your dog to sit and face the camera? Take several shots of him playing in the backyard, trying to get a ball, swimming in the lake, or laying on the deck. Sometimes those best showcase their personality! Which leads me to photography tip #3…

3. Go outside! Dogs LOVE being outside; as it is their natural element! If you can let them off leash, have them “stay”, walk about 100 feet,  say “come!” and start snapping! Try this at the beach, your favorite trail, hiking in the mountains, a favorite landmark, or anywhere you love to go with your dog.

4. Get a close-up. Are they laying on the couch? Snuggling with their favorite toy on their bed? Sitting pretty? Get as close to them as possible, zoom in on their face, and start snapping! Sometimes I get the best shots of my dog, because he’s too tired to care I’m taking photos. ONLY do this if you’re dog doesn’t mind you being so close.

5. If you have to be inside, use a solid background (if possible). While taking a photo of your dog in the kitchen or on the bed is cute, the surrounding area can be distracting, whether it’s the fridge in the background, clothes on the floor, or other people. If you’re dog sits well, find a place with a solid background (like a wall). This will keep the focus on the dog rather than the messy background.

6. Use treats! If you’re dog is food-motivated, use those treats! I usually command “sit”, hold the treat above my camera, and click away. You’ll have a great photo of him looking right at you!

7. Use Props! Add his favorite toy or ball. It’ll add some color and fun to the photo!

8. Add a pop of color! Does your dog like wearing bandannas? Sweaters, or a cool collar? Add a plaid, floral or solid pattern for extra style. Try taking the photo against a colored background, like a painted wall or mural.

9. Get assistance! Sometimes you need help. Have someone hold the leash while you snap away, or hold the treats. They’ll probably give you some great suggestions!

10. iPhones are awesome. Look, I am all for using a high quality camera when possible, but iPhones and other smartphones have really improved their cameras, and they can do a great job! However, they are best used outside in natural lighting, or close up, as they tend to get grainy with inside lighting.

11. Last but not least… Have fun! Remember, this is supposed to be fun, so don’t get too stressed trying to find the “perfect shot”. Some of the best photographs are by accident!

*I am not claiming to be a professional photographer. These are just tips that I’ve used to help me capture some of my favorite images, whether it’s of my dog or adoptable dogs for a local rescue. Have any tips of your own? I’d love to hear them!

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