I love dogs and and I love photographing dogs
I love dogs and I love photographing dogs outdoors. I grew up with dogs but I do not have a dog now (I have three cats). I think this is one reason I enjoy outdoor dog photoshoots so much. It is like going for walkies but with a camera. And often with some lighting equipment too.
I was privileged to do a very enjoyable dog photoshoot recently, and I have permission to share some of the photos.
Please note I never publish photos of people unless I have their permission.
Max is a cross between a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and a Rhodesian Ridgeback.
I was particularly looking forward to this shoot because Staffs are one of my favourite breeds. All the Staffs I have met have been joyful dogs that are full of good humour and loyalty. They also have a reputation for being extremely good with children. I am not familiar with Rhodesian Ridgebacks. I have only met one before and that was very briefly.
I was told before meeting him that Max is quite a character, and he did not disappoint. Although Max is getting on in dog years he is still very handsome.
It is good to get down to the dog’s level, and a shallow depth of field helps to isolate Max from the background.
Man’s best friend
Max is handsome but what I really fell in love with is his character. There is a very strong bond between Max and his owner and I wanted to capture this relationship. I have to say they made my job very easy. All I had to do was take some photos, and something of that relationship is captured right there. Just look at the size of Max’s grin!
When I say “all I had to do was take some photos” I mean obviously I had to know what I was doing. I used off camera flash in these photos to improve the lighting while capturing some very natural photos.
Strength of personality and strength of body
Max is built like a tank. I think it highly unlikely that someone would put a framed picture like the one below on their wall, but it makes an entertaining page in a photo album. In any case, what could be more enjoyable than rolling around on the ground with man’s best friend? Photos like these help remember the day.
Formal group photos
I was asked to take some formal group shots. If you look carefully you can see falling raindrops as grey streaks in the second of these photos!
Once again I improved the lighting in a very natural style using off camera flash. The depth of field is controlled so the people and dogs are sharp, but the background is blurred. This helps separate the people from the background. I also selected a point of view so that the background is significantly darker than the peoples’ faces.
Outdoor photoshoots in the rain?
I can work in the rain but it does tend to dampen the spirits.
I like photoshoots to be enjoyable experiences in their own right. Therefore if I have an outdoor shoot booked I like to confirm the shoot in the morning of the day “depending on the weather”. If that is possible of course – sometimes a customer needs the shoot to be on one particular day. In fact this photoshoot had been cancelled once already due to bad weather. Do you remember we had a VERY HOT dry period this summer followed by a LOT of rain? (At least in the South West). But we were lucky on the day of this shoot, and we got away with it.
At least we sort of got away with it. When we started it was lovely and dry and we took photos sitting on the grass (above). It started to rain later, but my customers (who are now friends) are “outdoorsy types” so we weren’t going to be troubled by a few drops of rain!
Max the athlete
I think Max is built for strength rather than athleticism. But it is always nice to capture a good action photo.
I have included two versions of the same photo. The question is how close should you crop? One advantage of using a camera that has A LOT of pixels is that you have the freedom to capture wide and crop tightly later if you want. The first of these photos is more of a picture; it shows the context of the shot and the size of the log that Max is jumping over. The second photo is more about the dog.
I want to thank Karen and Alan for making my job enjoyable.