Photographing Funny Dogs and Cute Puppies:Photogr
aphing dogs is never boring…and seldom easy, even with cute puppies. While dogs consistently want to please they often are completely at a los
s as to what is wanted from them during a photo shoot. Som
e breeds have too much energy, some too little. Some dogs are so alert that any extraneous noise becomes a distraction while others are so laid back that getting an alert look seems impossible. To insure a successful shoot takes preparation, patience…and a professional animal trainer!
Funny dog photography shootsFor our Animal Antics shoots we always use Bow Wow Productions…both to find and bring our four-footed friends to the studio and to handle the dogs during the photography. Invariably there is grooming to be done which can include cleaning, brushing the coat, trimming claws, sometimes even applying make-up! For the larger breeds such as Great Danes, Bloodhounds, St. Bernards and so forth, there is a constant need for cleaning up drool! I once had to shoot a weimaraner…all I had to do was have him sit and look at the camera…should be simple! It took 45 minutes…the Weimeraner was a show dog and apparently trained not to sit! Combine that with the dog’s nervous energy and even a simple sit-and-look became arduous challenge.
Successful dog photographyOur animal antics shoots tend to be a little more difficult than say a simple portrait sitting. For our shoots we need to have the dogs come as close to human poses as possible. Invariably we also need to shoot various parts, such as paws, in positions that they would not naturally be found. For example, if a given image calls for a dog, lets say a Dalmatian, to have both hands (paws) on her hips, then we have to shoot each leg in an appropriate position separately and with the lighting such that when the parts are assembled in Photoshop everything will look natural. There are times when we may have to have an animal laying on his or her back in order to get a close-up of a paw with the needed lighting and position. Some dogs do not want to be on their backs while others take it in stride. I don’t know if it was the breed or the individual, but I have had Beagles lay calmly on their backs while wearing miniature bath robes…and Rottweilers that weren’t about to lay on their backs if their lives…or ours…depended on it. This is where a trainer’s knowledge and experience become crucial both for the comfort of our “talent” and for the success of the shoot. The key ingredients for successful dog photography of this sort are preparation and patience.
The trainers know the dogs and cute puppies, and what they are capable of, how to encourage them to give us what we want, and what sort of requests should not be made of certain breeds and individuals (like whether they are willing to lay on their backs or not). It is also important to have the trainer be in charge of communication with the dog. Too many people trying to help get the dog to perform just confuse the poor creature. A good trainer will know what treats to use and when. Want the funny dog to extend its tongue? A little peanut butter on his muzzle will do the trick!
While funny dogs photography can be challenging, with the right preparation, patience…and an animal trainer…the shoots can be as much fun as they are challenge