People frequently ask us how we always seem to get the “perfect” shot of Bendel and Cotton. The truth is, it is NO easy task! So, we decided to share our pups hilarious outtakes to show what we really go through and give some tips along the way!
Whether it be for your pup’s social media account, your business, or just for fun, here are some (real life) tips on how to get the perfect pic of your favorite canine.
1. Prepare your set, props, and camera settings first
If you have nosy dogs like we do, they’re always interested in what you’re doing and want to offer “help”. After much trial and error, we learned to lock the dogs out of the room while setting up the shot. It’s best to have everything prepared (as best as you can) before you bring your model(s) in to do work. This includes making sure the lighting is right by doing test shots, fixing your camera settings, and arranging the set to your liking. Don’t be surprised or discouraged if they knock down your set. You may actually be able to get some pretty good candid shots! Also, be sure you have treats ahead of time!
2. Let them play before shooting
This may be better listed as #1, but we have found it very helpful to let them go run and play outside before trying to take pictures. If you have a yard, maybe use this time to set up your scene and props. Don’t let them get too tired or they won’t want to work! Another plus to this, if they’re a little hot usually their mouth is open and they have that “happy” look.
3. Know that every dog is different
Keep in mind that dogs will be dogs, and every dog has a unique personality. For example, Bendel is the most energetic and sweetest dog, but when it comes to taking pictures she develops what we like to call her “resting snob face”. On the other hand, Cotton likes to sing and bark at us when we take pictures (not to mention he is a lens licker!). Bendel loves to be in the water, and Cotton likes the water on his own terms.
Just know what works best for your dog. It took us a while before we learned how to really work with them (and we still have model problems sometimes), but over time we learned different methods to work with their unique personalities and quirks. No matter how your pup is acting, just keep snapping away! The results of their tantrums and disinterest are usually our favorite pics in the end.
4. Don’t be afraid to look (or sound) ridiculous
Remember, you aren’t the one in the pic, so it’s okay to do whatever it takes to get your dog to look at you for the perfect shot. Flailing your arms around to get your pup’s attention is totally okay. We have used methods such as coins in a cup to screaming like banshees to get their attention. Our go-to phrase to get their attention is, “Do you wanna go to the park?” Use whatever phrase gets your dog’s attention best. Again, do whatever it takes!
5. Use treats and commands
This one seems like a no-brainer, but using treats and commands are extremely helpful. There is that saying, “Don’t feed the models,” but this definitely isn’t the case when working with dogs. Just be sure to break the treats into smaller pieces so you don’t over-feed your dog. If you want your pup to look directly into the camera, hold the treat near the lens of your camera and get their attention. As you can see, our pups really love peanut butter!
6. Use different angles
While getting your pup to look directly in the camera is ideal, realistically it won’t happen every time. So, try shooting from different angles and sides to get a different look! We usually try to get on their level when taking pics, but we have found that angling the camera down for an above-view shot really turns out well, too! If you’re taking pictures outside, this is a really great opportunity to play with angles to get the scenery in the shot.
7. Take lots of breaks and know when to call it a day
This is probably one of the most important tips we have to offer. We typically shoot Bendel and Cotton at the SAME time, and as you can imagine, it gets frustrating sometimes. Sometimes your dog forgets all commands, sometimes they’ll be too distracted, sometimes they’ll want to play, and they just don’t want to work and be a model. While catching some of these moments are cute, know when it is time to take a break or call it quits. We have to remind ourselves that dogs will be dogs, and we can always try again later! These breaks are not only good for the dog, but mostly for your own sanity.
8. Use a partner for assistance
If you have an extra hand, ask them to help! We tell ourselves all the time that we have no idea how we could do this alone. Usually, one of us takes the pictures while the other positions our models, gets their attention, and adjusts the props and lighting. If you are fortunate enough to have assistance, your shoot will (seem) to go much better!
Again, if you’re trying to get your dog to look into the lens, have your assistant hold the treats directly above the lens. Another person is also great for getting their attention. We have actually called in a third hand for backup before! Not only is having assistance to get the perfect shot helpful, but it’s actually a really fun experience. We have had our best memories and bonding over taking pics of our pups.
9. Don’t wear your good clothes
This tip goes along with don’t be afraid of looking ridiculous. Unless you plan on taking pictures with your pup, we suggest just wearing workout clothes that you can easily move around in. While taking pictures of your dog is fun, it can sometimes be an exhausting experience. You’re going to sweat and sometimes get dirty. If you are taking pictures outside, you’ll probably be sitting in the grass, climbing over bushes and trees, and squatting or hovering in a the most uncomfortable position just to get the perfect angle.
10. Be flexible
Yes, being physically flexible is a great ability to have to get awesome pictures of your dog from different angles, but what we really mean is be ready for anything! As mentioned before, things do not always go according to plan and if you have crazy pups like we do, they always seem to have a different plan in mind. The best thing to do it just roll with it! We have gotten some of our favorite shots from the dogs just doing their own thing. If you notice that your dog keeps knocking down (or is horrified) of the set, just move things around. Just be sure to have your camera ready and capture all of these silly moments. Bendel was just not having it with the balloon, so we had to make adjustments!
11. Have fun!
Setting up the scenes, using props, and getting your pup to do exactly what you want seems to be and is a challenging task at times, but it is definitely rewarding! If you remain to be in a good mood, your dog will usually feed off of your energy. Our favorite part about taking pictures of Bendel and Cotton is finally going through all of them. Again for about every 50 pictures we take we usually get about 1 to 2 pictures that we are able to use. But, if you keep snapping away through the whole shoot, you’ll usually have some pretty awesome and hilarious out takes, derp faces, and pure doggy bliss. Having fun while taking pictures of your dog is always worth it!
Getting the perfect shot isn’t always easy and quick, but just have fun, let the dogs be dogs, and learn from each experience what works best for you and your pup!
Hailey and Kelly