The Basics of Dog Photography

Other than baby photos, pictures of pets are among the most popular in any household. Unfortunately, they also tend to suffer the most from poor quality or, as we term it in the trade, snapshot-itis. You may have this problem if friends start walking away fast when you mention the latest photos of your cat or if your dog's loving brown eyes end up glowing green like some malevolent demon in every shot you take.

Here Are Five Surefire Ways to Help Avoid Snapshot-itis

1) Change angles

Most pet photos are taken from the perspective of a human being looking down while the pet looks up. Bor-rinnnnnng! Try something different and get down at their level or, if they're moving, pan with them as you take the shot.

2) Stick with natural light. Turn off or cover the on-camera flash

On-camera flashes are evil. They flatten everything out, cast harsh shadows and are the source of the infamous glowing green pet eyes. If you have to use a flash go with an off-camera one and bounce the light off a ceiling or wall.

3) Stay out of direct sun and shoot in the morning or late afternoon

Contrary to popular belief, bright sunlight is not a photographers friend. It wreaks havoc with your exposure and you typically end up with lots of nasty shadows in places you don't want them. I avoid photographing subjects outside in direct light except first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon before sunset when the light is angled low.

4) Don't wait for the perfect moment and don't be afraid to take lots of shots but...

Most of us are shooting digital these days so you can essentially take as many pictures as you want. With pets, unpredictability is the rule of law. You never know how a shoot is going to go. All you can do is be there and hope you catch the moment. This requires taking a lot of shots in quick sequence and culling through them later for the best one.

5) ...make sure you edit yourself

Some of the most important work happens after you shoot. It sounds cliche but less is more. It's easy to become enamored of the 100 pictures you took of Spot playing with his new ball but chances are your friends won't feel the same way. Limit what you show people to only the very best.

Mark Rogers is a San Francisco-based professional pet photographer. His most recent work can be seen on his Smile Like a Dog blog and you can also follow him on twitter.