Our 2017 Tiny Dog calendars are available this week –and until they’re sold out — at our Etsy shop here. But even better than that, these beautiful dogs will become a traveling exhibit of framed art to inspire people to adopt! We’ve taken 14 of the rescue dogs from the calendar model group and added their “rescue stories” in text on the photograph and then framed them for display. Stay tuned for photos of the exhibit. Maybe something that will work in your area?
Ever get bored with your options? I am constantly looking for something interesting to do with adoptable dogs. And it’s great practice if you think you may someday want to photograph for clients. So today I was setting up a 5’X6′ printed canvas background from one of my favorite professional photo labs Simply Color Lab. If you haven’t discovered them, you can open up a free account and download their ordering software, by clicking the link.
We have an inexpensive backdrop stand which we spent about $90 for here . And a couple of clamps to hold the backdrop to the stand. It’s easy to transport if you’re working at a shelter. If you’re planning on using it all the time, invest in a better one — but for our occasional use, this one works fine.
As you can see by the set up shots, we used an area rug to cover the bottom edge of the backdrop. We often find good deals on rugs at Overstock.com, or even garage sales and thrift stores. The rugs are the heaviest and most inconvenient part of this set up to transport. If they’re big enough for the big dogs, they’re heavy! So I’d try and work with the smallest size that you can shoot on — maybe 4×6? This one is larger because we used to use it in our reception area here at the studio. Some photographers use a strip of baseboard or molding to make a nice edge where the backdrop meets the floor. We like to use area rugs because they keep the dogs from slipping around, and the photos look like you’re at home, not a photo studio. Beware of accidents, though — shelter dogs love to leave their scent (pee!) on our area rugs.
The background is narrow, but usually ample for one dog. Beware of the pattern though — if you’re using a leash to keep the dog in place (which we highly recommend) you will need to photoshop it out of the background and the pattern makes that a slower process. Like all of our adoption photos, we’re more interested in showing off the dog, not the props, so we kept the rest of the shot clean and simple. I’ve even seen a rug nailed up on the wall that makes a great backdrop, just avoid anything wrinkly. You can also use just the rug as your background by standing over your subject and shooting down at him. So stretch your wings and try something new!
We’re busy selling votes for the 2017 Tiny Dog Calendar. This is our annual fundraising project and the each vote costs $1. Only the top 13 vote-getters make it in to the 2017 calendar, but each and every little model has fun in the process.
This year we collaborated with a wonderful local florist, Sheila Johnson of FLORAL CONCEPTS to create something colorful and spectacular for each of our models. No tired silk flowers for these babies! We think the results are well worth it. Our goal is to have a traveling display that will go up in several area public spaces to show off just how beautiful our furry friends are. And maybe inspire people to adopt or donate.
Most of the models are local rescues, but ALL of the voting money goes to a local charity — Artists for Animals — to help them save more homeless pets. The calendars will go on sale in the fall — as well as some limited edition greeting cards. So keep an eye on our Etsy shop for greeting cards, but you can PRE-order your calendars now.
Over the next few weeks (and months) we’ll be doing a series of casual (free!)videos designed to support you and your pet photography. If you would take the time to comment and tell us what your biggest pet portrait challenges are and where you need the most help, we’ll try to address them in upcoming videos. So fire away!
In the mean time, here is a pullback shot of our new natural light shooting area in the studio. We covered the 10×10 opening from the garage door with floor to ceiling glass and created a giant window. This one is facing west (not ideal ) but creates beautiful light until late afternoon when it’s too bright — even with diffusion. We will use this set up next week for animal adoption photos for a local rescue group.
To the left you see a simple stand up reflector made of two 4×8 sheets of insulation board. Silver on one side and lightweight and cheap…. from our local home improvement store. White foam core would also have worked, but we wanted the reflected light to be a little sharper and more “specular” for this black dog’s fur. With black dogs I always use a silver reflector. Our client also brought her cat. Here’s a close up:
Want to learn “hands on” with Teresa? We have three seats left in our spring DOG SHOTS workshop. It’s a one day basic class held at her studio and the nearby park. Perfect for new photographers or anyone with a DSLR who wants to make better portraits of their pets or adoptable animals. Tuition is $295, which includes lunch. Call the studio to sign up: 972-250-2415
We all know that black dogs are hard to find homes for — mostly because it’s hard to get good photographs. We want to show their happy, playful sides but many times all we get are the dark blurry blobs with glowing red or green eyes. No wonder we can’t find them homes!
Here’s an example of a black lab mix that we photographed a couple of years ago. We know that black dogs need more light. If you’re using a reflector (and I strongly suggest that you do!) be sure you are using the SILVER side, not the white side. And try putting the reflector directly between you and the dog. So you’re bouncing light right in to the dogs face. Don’t blind them with reflected sun, do this in the shade on a bright day. Another trick is to put them on a reflective surface like a light gray concrete sidewalk, like Annie is on. Or if you’re indoors, a light colored floor.
Now TURN OFF the flash. If you’re using your manual settings (and you should!) raise the ISO until you can use a fast shutter speed. I often sit on the ground and sit behind the reflector. I use a flexible round silver reflector about 40″ wide, like this one. And I rest my hands with the camera on the top, (obviously) pointed at the dog.
If the dog is nervous because of the big silver disc in front of him, give him lots of treats and try not to move it around too much. I’ve even laid it on the ground and let them eat treats right off the reflector, so they know not to be afraid of it. Wait until your dog is in position, take a test shot so you know the light is just right, then make a crazy noise to get his attention and SNAP! you’ve got a winner. Remember, FRIENDLY is the key word. Incorporate a toy, a bright colored bandana, or pretty collar to make her look like a member of the family.
Need more help with your photography? We’ve got classes coming up! Saturday, March 12 at our studio in Dallas we have our DOG SHOTS class. One day only with live models and lots of hands on shooting. We’ll walk you through how and why to use the manual settings on your DSLR and even help you with dog body language and composition. We’ll be shooting outdoors and indoors using natural light. The class is $395 and includes your lunch. Call the studio if you’d like to sign up – 972-250-2415.
They look like so much fun — and Santa’s there to hold your four-legged model, so they should be easy, right? Maybe not. But they will definitely be fun.
A couple of tips for success:
- Do not let dogs waiting to be photographed line up close to your shooting area. It creates a very difficult situation because your subject will want to look at THEM, not you.
- Use treats sparingly. The package of treats (if it crinkles) will make a better attention-getter than almost anything else.
- Work fast. You don’t really have time to get the dogs to settle down, so make sure Santa knows how to hold the dog gently, but firmly — and quickly grab his attention and get your shot. The longer he sits, the longer he squirms. Santa should NOT engage with the dog — you want the camera to be interesting, not the Santa.
A lot of photographers try and make money doing Santa photos but it’s almost impossible to make it profitable. But if you do it, do it for donations to your favorite animal charity and don’t expect to make money. Have fun!
I apologize –our live Periscope broadcast (which was scheduled for yesterday) had to be re-scheduled. Stay tuned for a date next week. While you’re waiting, sign up for Periscope and get familiar with how it works (you’ll need to have a twitter account first). It’s really simple and fun.
Have you tried it? Periscope is a new social media platform (owned by Twitter) that allows you to watch a live, streaming video on your smart phone or tablet — and interact with the person broadcasting the video by typing questions that he or she can answer.
When I saw my first Periscope video I thought — what a great way to show people how we photograph adoptable dogs! So here’s fair warning: If you want to be part of our FIRST Periscope broadcast and watch me photographing rescue dogs in my studio, all you have to do is download the Periscope app and get familiar with it! It’s all F R E E. And with a little practice, you can ask me a question during the broadcast.
Everything you need to know is in this Wiki: http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Periscope
We’ll be broadcasting live on October 20th (start time to be announced, but it will be in the afternoon, Central Daylight Time) here at Teresa Berg Photography with some dogs, some treats, some crazy squeeky toys and, hopefully, YOU!
OOPS, I almost forgot — our ‘name’ on Periscope is TBERGPHOTO See you there soon!