This post is a quick guide to taking shelter dog portraits. In future posts, I'll go into more detail with some of these tips and troubleshoot common problems. If you have a specific question you'd like me to cover, just email me!
I usually take photos of around 20 dogs in a photo session at the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia. I try to keep the whole session to under 2 hours, so I only have a few minutes per dog to get a couple of good photos. I always shoot in natural light, preferably outside. If I take photos indoors, I position the dog facing a window for lighting.
Basic steps are as follows. Below this, I'll go into greater detail:
- Give the dog a few seconds to settle. Let your helper(s) pet and reassure the dog so they can relax a bit. You can let them sniff your camera.
- Position the dog with their back to the trees, wall, bushes, etc. and face towards the open sky. If it's sunny, work in a solid shady area to avoid spotty shade spots on the dog.
- Have a helper get the dog in a sitting position and hold the leash taut (but not pulling on the neck).
- Have a second helper stand behind you and squeak a toy once when everyone is ready. Or you can do this yourself with your free hand. If the dog is scared of squeaks, you can shake a treat box or crinkle a bag.
- When the dog perks up in response to the squeak, snap the picture.
Here are some tips for getting the most out of your portraits: