The dog days of summer are here and it's just too hot to shoot outside. Hey, no sweat, you can get amazing results shooting your pet indoors!
Gear and Equipment
Use your favorite portrait lens. If you don't have one (or aren't sure) just use any lens you have that is capable of a shallow DOF. You want to be able to focus on your pet's face and to blur the background, highlighting your subject.
|Potential distracting clutter in the background is rendered as a blur, focusing the eye on the subject.|
It’s very important to keep the camera still, because your pet may not be. This is especially important when you are not using flash. The camera needs to be able to use all the available light to produce the image, so shoot with a tripod. If you don’t have time to set up a tripod, you can stack the camera up on some books, or use a bag of rice or lentils on a hard surface and then plop the camera on top.
An exception to the lighting rule: The high-contrast works here to capture this little imp who loves to sunbathe. Notice we're right down on the pup's level (more about that later).
|Sometimes breaking the rules RULES! Strong sunlight makes for a high contrast, dramatic shot.|
These puppies were also shot from the floor with a large glass door behind the photographer. It was an overcast day so the light was naturally diffused, yet still hitting the puppies in their faces. A lens with a shallow DOF was used so there's not much of anything visible in the background, perfect for when your pet is looking photogenic and you don’t have time to clean up.
This image can be cropped even closer to eliminate the distracting light area on the left of the frame.
Get down to your dog's level! As you can see in the examples above, for a dog’s eye view, you can't beat getting down on the floor or the ground. The camera should be at eye-level to the dog or slightly (a foot or two) above.
Of course there are always exceptions, and here's one.
|We can crop out the distracting yellow sneakers in post.|
|Someone, somewhere said, "food."|
Most dogs don't need any props, but if there's a favorite toy by all means use it to encourage your dog to sit and pay attention. Wave a treat or toy just above the camera lens to get your dog to face the camera for a full face shot, hold it out at arm's length for a 3/4 shot, or wait until s/he focuses on something across the room to snap a more candid canine.
|Treat held just above the lens.|
|Toy in left hand, outstretched, shooting with right hand.|
Too doggone hot to shoot outside? We hear you! Crank up the air conditioning and capture some great pet portraits during the dog days of summer!