5 Tips to Help You Take Great Pics of Your Dog

Say “Cheese!” Or maybe just grab a hunk of some. 

We know how much you love your dog. And as dog lovers ourselves, we always want to capture and share our best dog moments with our best friends — the human ones. But sometimes that wagging tail and pink tongue end up looking more like a blur or streak or just, um, meh. So, what can you do to capture your pup’s personality and pretty face?

It doesn’t take a professional-quality camera, but it does require a bit of patience, some go-to tips, and perhaps a few treats to snap crisp, unforgettable, share-worthy photos of your pup.

When it comes to capturing the love, goofiness, and beauty of your pooch, we have some hints to help you achieve success.

1. It's all about those Disney eyes

Does staring into your dog’s eyes make you melt inside? Dogs have some of the most expressive eyes, and they actually make facial expressions to communicate with humans. To capture the full magnetism of those puppy eyes, you may need to get eye-level with your dog. This could mean lying on your tummy in the grass or posing your dog at the top of your stairs. But once you get on your dog’s level, those peepers can really pop in pictures.

Helpful Hint: Don’t be too proud to bribe your dog with some tasty treats to help encourage cooperation and gain focus. A squeaky toy can also add an element of surprise. In fact, this is how one of the best dog photographers gets great shots!

2. Light au naturel is often the way to go

Here’s a bright idea: bathe your pup in bright light for the best photos. Bright natural light helps speed up the shutter rate of your camera. This reduces the risk of blur.

Natural light tends to show off your dog’s natural color, too. Many pet photographers suggest taking pictures of your dog while she’s facing the sun to reduce shadows that can obscure her face or distract from her as the centerpiece. And don't forget the golden hour, shortly after sunrise or before sunset. Because the lighting is soft and shadows are minimal, you can snap some of your best pics during these times.

A fun photo idea to try with your dog

It can be difficult to handle your phone or camera while wrangling your dog outdoors. Leave your dog inside and try taking pictures near or through the window. If your dog loves to bark at the mailman or passersby, surprise her by popping up outside with your camera in-hand. Or capture her canine curiosity while you're both inside by taking a picture of her gazing at something outdoors.

3. Unless you’re a wizard, take plenty of shots

It pays to use the rapid-fire or “burst mode” setting when you're shooting pictures. Even the best photographers can’t always get it perfect with a ‘one-and-done’ method. Because our doggos tend to wag, wriggle, and run, you can choose the best photo of several. Or maybe all will turn out well — just in different ways — like the three above!

The same is true when it comes to taking extra pictures. Don’t put your camera away too early. Sometimes the best pictures are the ones we decide to randomly take after we're finished posing our dogs. 

If you're shooting on an iPhone, you can also turn on Live Photos, which records what happens 1.5 seconds before and after you take a picture. This allows you to choose the best of any frame during that period to be your key photo. Thank you to @carrieanthemsinger for reminding us of this option!

Remember to choose your camera (or photo app) settings before setting out. This will reduce your time fiddling with the camera and allow you to shoot at a moment’s notice.

4. Give your viewer a peek into your pooch's personality

What makes your dog her amazing, loving, different self? Does she love a Lamb Chop dog toy that she’s had since she was a puppy? Does she love to lounge on your slippers or wait by the door for her walk? Find these charming quirks and highlight them.

Don't be afraid to get candid as well. Play fetch or frisbee, or encourage your dog to run full-speed toward you. 

Leash or no leash? That depends. Is your dog in an enclosed area where escape isn't possible? Then maybe. Just be sure. Leashes can be distracting or steal attention from what you truly want to highlight in your pictures. But safety is paramount.

5. Have fun (with your best friend)

Don’t forget that your doggo is a furry bundle of fun. If you focus more on the quality of your pictures or whether or not they’re Insta-worthy, you may miss out on some of the best memories you’ll make with your dog.

If you want pictures that illuminate the bond you have with your best buddy, don’t be afraid to book a photographer. Try out a student photographer that is trying to build their portfolio or ask a friend to give it a go. These pictures make great holiday cards and personalized postcards. And of course, there's always the selfie approach!

Our dogs bring joy and make our lives better. Taking good photos of your dog from puppyhood to those gray-around-the-muzzle years helps preserve many precious moments. Show off your dog’s magnetic personality by printing and framing your best shots. As part of the family, your dog deserves a spot on the mantel.

Don’t be shy about your skills. They'll sharpen with time. Shoot. Print. Frame. Repeat. And have fun with your pup!