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.
Related Advice from Other Dog Owners
Dog Laws to be Aware of
There are many laws pertaining to dogs, however they will vary depending on where you live. Many places have laws such as -
Dogs must be leashed
Fines for not cleaning up after your dog
Fines for excessive barking
Breed Specific Laws
City or Town License requirements
You also may not allowed to bring a dog into many places such as restaurants, some stores, etc. You will usually see signs on the door when a dog is not allowed, otherwise you may want to ask if it is okay to bring your dog into an establishment.
The best bet is to go to your city or town website and search the laws there, or visit city hall for the specifics of being a responsible, law abiding dog owner in your town.
~Tracey G., owner of Sato
Your Legal Rights If Your Dog Bites Another Dog
You have the right to know the procedures you are paying for. What is to keep them from having all sorts of things done to their dog on your dime if you don't know what is being done. It's not like you are asking for the dogs health records. The owners need to work with you since you are taking responsibility.
If this turns into an issue, you can call Legal Aid. They will just give you some advice at little or no charge, and a course to follow.
This will show you are trying to be responsible for your dogs behavior, but the owners are refusing to allow you to know what you are paying for.
I wouldn't pay for anything until I was handed an itemized bill. So until the owners contact you, I wouldn't shell out a dime, but I would consult legal advice for my own protection.
~Theresa H., owner of Breed Unknown
Your Rights When Your Dog is Injured at the Dog Park
I was involved in an incident at our local dog park last year, and while my own dogs were not involved, I ended up with broken skin on my wrist and hand, as I reached in to stop a mastiff puppy from killing a poodle puppy (yes, I know, I should not have jumped in the middle, but... it's hard not to intervene and help out in a scary situation like that!)
The poodle owner's dad kept angrily insisting that the mastiff owner pay for the pup's surgery, and (to try to defuse the situation) I called my trainer for her opinion. She has a lot of experience with this kind of thing, and she said: "Dog owners enter a dog park at their own risk. If their dog is injured, they are legally obligated to care for their injured dog. If the other party (the owner of the dog that inflicted damage) offers to pay, that's great! But there is no legal obligation."
~Wendy D., owner of German Shepherd
Tips on taking photos with your camera phone
For best results with a camera phone, take the photos outside, in the sunlight, shooting away from the sun. i.e. Have the dog facing the sunlight but you face the camera away.
~Jayj G., owner of Labrador Retriever/Jack Russell Terrier
When you rescue a dog from a shelter, it's ok to change its name
Changing his name from the name assigned at the shelter is fine and it's a good way to get your dog to learn his new name. Get a handful of yummy treats. Feed them one at a time, saying the pup's new name in varying tones and volume as the food hits his mouth. This helps create a positive association with their name, and ultimately helps with recall too.
~Karolyn W., owner of German Shorthaired Pointer/Boxer