Barking Blondes: The perfect pooch pic
This weekend, weather permitting, man and his best friend will be traipsing through the British countryside or running over seaside shingle in the pursuit of happiness. Thousands of smart phones will be capturing the memory in preparation of being shown to family and colleagues on Tuesday. “Look here is a pic of Rover I took in our local woods – pity he looks like the devil incarnate.” (Red eye strikes again.)
Photos capture precious moments and ‘immortalise’ memories of our pets, but how do you get the best shot, or what makes one photo better than another? Is it best to have prints and keep an album? Or should everyone keep libraries of images on their computers and smart phones?
The framed photograph of Fido over the mantle piece? Is it precious because of the memory or because it captured the animal beautifully?
On our radio show this week we chatted to acclaimed doggy photographer Deborah Rowe about what makes a good photo of your dog. Deborah works a lot with the Crufts magazine and has had her subjects feature on the cover. One of her favourite backgrounds for photographing dogs is bluebells.
Sit them among the new bluebells (perfect for this weekend) and the result is wonderful. Her point was proved by the hundreds of pics of mutts in bluebells that were emailed in from our listeners.
Every dog owner has their favourite picture of their pooch. Living in the age of the ‘selfie’ and smart phone technology, it’s easy to get shots when you’re out and about on a smart phone. Complete with zoom lense features, and inbuilt ‘touch-up’ features – do we need anything else? From the raft of pics sent in by listeners the general feeling seems to be whether taken by a big lens or smart phone the one thing that matters – and came across – was the love of the owner and the character of the dog.
However, there are some basics to adhere to if you’re going for a ‘good’ shot.
Clearly it’s best to have your subject in focus, but that can be tricky when you’re working with a dog as their attention span can wane. It’s also particularly hard if you’re taking the picture and choreographing the dog at the same time.
Ideally, take another person to do the ‘bribery’ and help keep up the enthusiasm with a top treat like a Swedish Meatball, or piece of cheese. We really recommend this if you’ve commissioned an expensive photoshoot portrait. A lot of professional photographers will use a squeaky toy to get the dog to look up, but we promise you after five squeaks the novelty has waned.
It’s best to snap dogs in daylight as flash photos create the old red-eye look of the devil which leaves the most sweet puppy looking quite menacing. Unlike with people, red eye on animals is almost impossible to reverse on a computer. Some really dramatic action shots appeal to many to get the spirit of the dog running and playing, however, usually this needs a clever choreographer and a fast shutter speed.
Composition is important and having a natural backdrop will often show them at their best rather than the living room carpet.
And remember black dogs can disappear against a dark background.
If you’re lucky you’ll have a dog that’s a natural ‘poser’ – some most definitely get the idea of staring straight down the lens and are not camera shy. Others will never pose and its up to you to get them unawares!
One thing’s for sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and no one dog is any more or less photogenic than another.
Barking Blondes by Jo Good & Anna Webb, published by Hamlyn, £12.99 www.octopusbooks.co.ukTagged in: dog photography
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