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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Animal Portrait: Two Dogs, two tricks

Getting a person to give me that complimentary smile, or sit with their shoulders at just the right angle can take a few attempts. But hey, at least we speak the same language (usually).

Photographing pets can be quite a different task. To photograph a dog, you have to think like a dog. What's that? You have enough trouble trying to figure out a human thought (maybe even your own)? Fortunately for most, dogs can be much simpler. Usually they want two things, food and play. Working with a dog that is good with strangers, or already well trained, the task can be a walk in the park. For those that aren't, read on.

 Most dogs get excited when something new is happening. One of the best methods is to limit distractions. Find a quite spot with few other people around, especially people the dog may be familiar with. Most canines want to please their owners, and if there are 3 owners trying to do their best to help out, our eager to please buddy can get confused quick.

A pre-session meeting in a location that is familiar to the pet is always a good idea. Getting introduced and acclimated without the commotion of posing or setup will go a long ways towards a productive session. I think it's good to not only introduce myself, but my camera too. It's going to be my face to the dog while shooting, I don't want to surprise our subject later with a new appearance! Sit down with the pet, on their level. Talking with the owner can show acceptance and slow the pace down.

Always have some treats and toys on hand to lure that expression for a great photo. In the top picture above of Chloe I was holding a stick above my head. We were standing in the shadows along side the house. I wanted to get her eyes up into the sky and use the bright green grass as a backdrop.

Sometimes to just get a picture takes some unconventional thinking. The (camera phone) photo below of Bailey is just to prove a point about his fear of cameras. It had been a long time since anyone managed to get his picture. I suspect he doesn't like the flash that is associated with most point and shoot cameras, and we now have a Pavlov situation with ANY camera. So, since dogs either want to eat or play, I was tempting him with the idea of a W-A-L-K. Holding my camera down low around my waist and getting him to look up at me I was able to get a couple of shots of him. My next step will be with a proper camera!

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