1. Start with a tired dog. Run with him, play with him, whatever you have to do to get him to relax. It will make a world of difference when it’s time to settle him down for a photo.
2. Look for the light! You want the light to fall on the dog’s face and if possible, you want a bit of a reflection in the dog’s eyes (called a catchlight). So if you’re using window light, have the dog face the window rather than turn his back to it.
3. De-clutter the background. I don’t know if you’ve ever amused yourself by going to www.Petfinder.com just to see how bad the pictures really are, but there’s newspapers, dirty dishes in the sink, empty boxes of pizza, old tennis shoes — you can barely find the dog in these pictures. It’s like Where’s Waldo? Even a plain white wall is better than a basket of dirty laundry or a stained carpet. Less is more.
4. Stay on the dog’s eye level. For some reason, people think if they bend a tiny bit at the waist, they’re going to get a great dog portrait. Sorry! You need to get down so his eyes are level with yours.
5. Do whatever you can to avoid using the flash. Turn on all the lights, move close to the window, use a reflector — even go outdoors (in the shade, of course) but using a pop-up flash is so tricky that it’s better just to avoid it all together. There are lots of other ways to light your subject.
We go more in depth on each of these steps during our webinar — but if you practice these 5 tips, you will notice a dramatic difference!