Dogs always manage to steal the limelight, whether through their death-defying leaps to catch the ball, their sneaky food-stealing antics, or that hilarious look they get on their face after accidentally drinking the seawater. So, why not run with it and get beautiful holiday photos of the pup being its silly, crazy and downright wonderful self?
If you're a new owner or keen to trial a bit of dog photography during your UK holiday and get some top travel pics, then read on for our round-up of 10 top tips for getting great photos of your dog.
We’ve even including some advice from our 2018 Canine Critic’s owner, Cara, on what she considers when planning the perfect shot of her dog Poppy – thanks for the extra photography tips, Cara! If you want to see our 2018 Canine Critic on her travels, take a look at this post.
These titbits of advice will help you get snap happy with your pup in no time:
1. Get your dog used to the camera
Your dog may have no fear, but even the bravest of doggos can get nervous around bright flashes and loud clicks in their face.
Some cameras can even be quite large and clunky, so before any kind of photo shoot, let your dog give the equipment a good sniff and try to keep the atmosphere calm, happy and relaxed.
2. Have treats on hand if you want portraits
This is particularly applicable to younger pups and canines with boundless energy, but also ensures old dogs with a keen sense of smell will be looking at you and the treats when you take the photo.
You’ll soon get your dog’s attention when you open a pack of delicious canine nibbles!
Keep practising that stay command; it makes life so much easier if you know your dog won’t move while you set up the perfect shot!
3. Bend, stretch and get down to your dog’s level
Standing over your dog and taking the shot simply means your photos won’t have much variety. If you’ve ever watched a professional pet photographer in action, you’ll notice they bend, twist, crouch and crawl – whatever it takes to get the best shot.
Switch it up by getting down to their level and you’ll get a far more interesting choice of shots.
4. Backgrounds are important too
Think minimal. Simple, uncluttered backgrounds like a beach or grassy green field which allow your dog to be the star of the show, and even interior shots can look professional with a bit of forward-thinking and attention to detail.
Remove any clutter and distracting objects from the area you want to capture and watch out for anything that might look like it’s growing out of your dog’s head. Also, pay attention to colour: a dark background could be tricky when capturing a black dog.
Think about how you can best show off where you are. Part of getting good holiday photos is snapping the fantastic scenery and attractions you visit so try positioning your pup in the foreground with a breathtaking backdrop behind.
5. Avoid the flash
Great lighting is everything in photography with a bright yet diffused light being one of the easiest for creating beautiful pet portraits. Try shooting first thing in the morning on overcast days, or in the shade if it’s really sunny.
For interior shots, find a place near a window and let natural light flood in or use an off-camera flash or bright light that’s been swivelled up to the ceiling to create a seemingly natural light source.
6. Edit your photos
Even the lightest of edits can bring new life to a photograph and there are lots of free smartphone apps that can help you add that professional quality in seconds. Check out VSCO, Photoshop Express and one of our personal favourites, Snapseed.
7. Create a shot list
It’s a great way to ensure you don’t spend all your time with your camera glued to your eye when you could be playing fetch instead.
Spend five minutes planning and writing down five to ten of the shots you would like to capture and keep your camera on hand to snap the opportunities as they arise.
Plan what and where you want to go in advance. It makes your trip run so much more smoothly when you have a good idea of what you want to be doing and which shots you’d like to try and create.
8. Keep quiet
There’s no quicker way to confuse a dog than to shout commands at them repeatedly.
Good communication isn’t all about words. Body language will influence how your dog reacts to you as well, so try communicating with them non-verbally: use hand signals to point or invite them over to you and if you need to say ‘sit’, say it calmly and quietly.
The less talking you do, the clearer your commands will be. Your dog will be able to listen and respond to you, and you’ll get some great shots!
9. Enlist help
Ask a friend or partner to stand next to you with a squeaky toy or healthy treat if you want a head-on shot, or throw and catch a ball if you want an action shot. This will allow you to concentrate on framing your photo perfectly.
10. Have fun!
You’ll get the best shots when you aren’t even trying! If you want to capture your pup’s true personality, then simply spend time with your dog with your camera at the ready for capturing those spontaneous shots. You could get a great photo of your canine playing fetch, following an exciting animal trail, or covered in mud after a crazy few minutes rolling about in muddy puddles.
The best shots are often the most spontaneous ones so it’s good to get some candid, un-posed shots to show off your dog’s personality!
One last tip from Cara about how she gets such great photos of Poppy:
Try and get off the beaten path; sometimes walking five minutes away from the popular tourist spots can get you the most special of pictures.
The one thing that we at Canine Cottages can help with is finding a fantastic backdrop that’ll allow you to get the perfect doggo photos. Check out our list of the perfect holiday destinations for dogs. According to this list, greyhounds need a trip to North Devon while huskies should holiday in the Brecon Beacons.
To begin planning your photography trip, browse through our dog-friendly holiday cottages in the UK.