National Dog Day is August 26! How do you capture a #NationalDogDay shot that makes your pup look adorable and is the envy of all your followers? We’ve rounded up a few tips for how to take the best photo of your dog and got some expert advice from Sean Gumm, zulily’s Lead Editorial Photographer.
1. Get your dog used to the camera.
This might be easier if you’re shooting off your smartphone, but either way, let your dog sniff your camera or phone before taking a few test shots of your surroundings to put your pup at ease. Feed him a treat or two to associate the camera or phone with something positive. Once he seems used to the camera, shoot away!
2. Take some action shots.
Sleeping or sitting shots are cute, but let your pup show off his tricks and toys with some action shots. “Playing with a toy or going for a quick run around the backyard will get everyone fired up and make sure their attention stays with you,” says Gumm. “Some breeds of dogs like Pugs and Retrievers will even look like they’re smiling if they’re a bit out of breath.”
3. Have treats on hand if you want portraits.
Have a dog that’s hard to capture on camera? Hold the treat where you’d like your dog to look. Don’t forget to reward him with said treat for a job well done.
4. Shoot photos from your dog’s level.
A few shots from human height are great, but try crouching at your dog’s level or even lying on the floor. Seeing the world from your pup’s perspective produces intimate, up-close-and-personal photos.
5. Pay attention to details.
“Remember to get in really close and photograph the parts of your pet that are most endearing to you,” Gumm advises. “Paws and tails are often overlooked but can be some of the most expressive and adorable parts of your furried friend.”
6. Backgrounds are important, too.
Choose a background that won’t detract from your adorable subject. “Pets with all black or white fur are notoriously easy to over or under expose in photographs,” Gumm says. “Choose a simple background that contrasts with the color of your pet to ensure a clear separation between subject and setting.”
7. Avoid the flash when photographing pets.
“Camera flashes can make an animal’s fur look unclean and their eyes look spooky,” Gumm explains. “Flashes can also startle some pets and end a photo shoot abruptly.”
8. Please don’t do anything that could put your dog out of his comfort zone.
Sure, dogs dressed up in costumes are cute — but please don’t force your pup into an outfit if he’s not feeling it. If your dog won’t sit for a portrait session, photograph him on the go. Have a pup who prefers sleeping over frolicking for action shots? Capture him catching some Z’s. The purpose should be working with your subject — your dog — to catch him in a way where he looks natural and relaxed … not stiff, forced and unhappy.
9. Finally, give your photo a touchup before posting.
These days, airbrushing isn’t just for supermodels in magazines. “There’s no shame in a little post-photoshoot touchup,” Gumm says. “There are plenty of free smartphone apps available to adjust brightness, color and sharpness in your photos. They’re incredibly easy to use and will bring a professional quality to your images in seconds.” In addition to the built-in tools you get with apps like Instagram, try apps specifically geared toward photo editing like VSCO or Photoshop: express.
Got the perfect photo of your pup?
Show us with hashtag #dogsterdogs and tag us on our Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, or email us your photos at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: Photo Booth. You could see your cute canine on our social feeds or in an upcoming issue!
Thumbnail: Photography courtesy zulily.
This piece was originally published in 2017.