10 Amazing Camera Hacks for Better Dog Photography

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In this article, you will learn 10 camera tricks and hacks that could help you take far more interesting dog photography — or photos of any pet, for that matter.

If you love taking pictures of your pooch but don’t feel that you are getting any spectacular results that are worth framing, then perhaps some of the following tips will help inspire you to take your pet and dog photography to the next level.

Let’s see if these 10 dog photography hacks will inspire you to try something new today.

1. Use window light

Use window light - 10 Amazing Camera Hacks for Dog Photography

This might not seem like much of a hack, but it is your job as a photographer to look for the best light. Many photographers say that window light is their favorite light because it’s a soft light that creates beautiful shadows across your subject.

If you are looking for the quickest and easiest way to create a more professional look for your pictures, moving them closer to a soft light source such as a window would be my first tip.

With without window light - 10 Amazing Camera Hacks for Dog Photography

In the image above, you can see the difference between having the dog by the window and not. Not only is the light more dynamic, because your camera will detect more light, but it will use a lower ISO, which all means a cleaner, less “noisy” image.

Photo with window light - 10 Amazing Camera Hacks for Dog Photography

2. Use your phone light

Phone lighting

We probably all know the saying, “Never work with children or animals”. The reason is that they are unpredictable and quite often do not do what you want them to do when you want them to do it. There may be times when your dog is doing something cute, and it is simply not possible to move them to a window to get that perfect lighting.

These days, however, you have access to light right in your pocket. Next time your dog is doing something cute in lousy lighting conditions, rather than pushing that ISO up and just dealing with the bad light, why not introduce some of your own light using the phone in your pocket? It takes seconds to set up and can instantly give your pictures a far more dynamic feel.

Photography camera light - 10 Amazing Camera Hacks for Dog Photography

3. Tin foil

Tin foil - 10 Amazing Camera Hacks for Dog Photography

Now that we have covered the basics of good lighting, we can move on to some of the fun stuff. If you are a fan of beautiful round bokeh (blurred background), then tin foil could be your new best friend. By putting some scrunched up foil behind your subject and shining a light on it, you will instantly get a “starry” bokeh effect.

This technique requires a bit of practice, but my top tips are to use a lower aperture and move your dog far enough in front of the foil that the camera focuses on the dog, causing the background to blur.

Tin foil bokeh

My second bit of advice is to use a short telephoto or zoom lens, preferably above 50mm to 85mm. This is because a wider lens takes in more of the background so you will need more foil. If you use a telephoto lens, less of the background will be in the shot, which means you will need less foil to create the effect.

4. The upside down reflection shot

Reflection shot - 10 Amazing Camera Hacks for Dog Photography

This tip is as simple as it sounds! The next time you are near some still water, such as a puddle or a pond, try holding your camera upside down and shooting your dog’s reflection in the water. When you look at the image the correct way, you will create a fantastic illusion. When people see your dog’s feet at the bottom of the picture, they will realize that they are looking at a reflection.

Dog reflected puddle - 10 Amazing Camera Hacks for Dog Photography

This tip works well with dogs as they are so low to the ground.

5. Use a mirror to create white space

White space mirror - 10 Amazing Camera Hacks for Dog Photography

It is your job as a photographer to lead the viewer’s eye to the subject that you want them to look at. This is part of the beauty of these fast lenses with really blurry backgrounds; you can leave your subject in focus and blur the background, so it is clear what you want our viewer to look at.

Another way to do this is the use of white space. By shooting in a mirror, you can purposely introduce a significant portion of the wall behind the mirror and put your subject off to the corner of the image. This creates a massive amount of white space, producing a far more interesting picture.

White space dog - 10 Amazing Camera Hacks for Dog Photography

6. Fairy lights

Fairy lights

Fairy lights are great as they introduce three elements that photographers love:

  1. Added detail.
  2. Possibility for nice round bokeh.
  3. Additional light.

Why not get your dog to sit on some fairy lights when you are taking his picture next? You can also add your phone light as well to add that lovely dynamic shadow at the same time.

Dog on fairy lights - 10 Amazing Camera Hacks for Dog Photography

7. Phone or Perspex reflections

Phone reflection - 10 Amazing Camera Hacks for Dog Photography

Symmetry will become your best friend when taking pictures. There is something about reflections and balance that are very pleasing to the human eye.

If you find yourself without a reflective surface to shoot into, why not make your own? I carry a small bit of perspex with me wherever I go. However, many photographers use their mobile phones.

All you need to do is hold it next to your lens to create a reflection of your pet.

Dog reflection hack - 10 Amazing Camera Hacks for Dog Photography

7. Prisms

Prism dslr hack

Prisms mix two elements that we have already discussed; they can create white space, almost blurring out a significant portion of your photographs, and you can get some exciting reflections out of them.

However, the reason why I love using prisms is that they can add some fantastic color to an image that might otherwise be a little dull.

Camera hack prism

9. Phone flare

Phone flare technique

Flare is a real sought-after look. We have all spent time pointing our lenses almost directly at the sun trying to get that beautiful lens flare look.

Well, the next time you want instant lens flare, just get your trusty phone out of your pocket again and try shining that light into the camera to get a very similar effect.

Phone flare hack

10. Change your perspective

Dslr perspective

Finally, why not just change your perspective? The number one thing that will make your pictures look more professional is capturing things in a different way from others.

Most of the time, this just comes down to shooting something from a different angle. People are used to looking down at their dogs, so they will typically take images of their dogs from above. Why not take your pictures from floor level to get pictures of your pet you may not have seen before?

Also, try mixing my technique of using white space in combination with this tip. Purposely shoot more of the floor and put your dog in the corner of the image to help lead the viewer’s eye.

Dog photography

11. One final bonus tip for good luck

One of the best tips I have ever received for my photography comes in particularly handy photographing dogs.

Always focus on the eye that is nearest you.

Your viewers will always focus on the subject’s eyes. If they are sharp, then people do not worry so much about the rest of the image.

If you look back at some of the pictures above, you will notice that sometimes the nose is slightly out of focus due to the use of a shallow aperture. However, you may not have noticed that when you first looked at the images because the eyes are in focus. I do this with all the pictures I take.

Conclusion

I hope the video and these tips have inspired you to go try and take new images that you may not have thought of before. Even if you don’t use these exact tips, perhaps some of them might help you think more about using reflections, lighting, and white space, which will help your pictures stand out from the crowd.

Please share some of your tricks and tips in the comments below.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Phil Harris is a professional wedding photographer based in the UK. His photography career began when he did photography at university. He also makes YouTube videos to inspire more people to do photography. Check out Phil’s Wedding Photography site and his YouTube channel here.

  • TByte

    Ugh.

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  • Albin

    Conventional advice is to focus on eyes, but as a practical matter there’s a good trick to keep an active pet (or kid, or athlete) within the DOF, and that is to lock focus on a nearby object (tree, fence, furniture, play structure, goalpost) where manual, autofocus or other continuous camera focus-tracking fails to keep up. Google is man’s best friend for aperture, distance and lens selection to keep Bowser within the DOF.

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  • Michael Barnes

    when you say “hack” do you mean tip?

  • Jim Wolff

    I can’t wait to try the crumpled foil trick. That looks good for a lot of shots, like product shots, etc.

  • So after seen this quick post, i wish to try the tricks.

  • Rosaleen Harley

    ugh in a negative sense? totally agree. the worst animal photos i have seen.

  • Rosaleen Harley

    this is by far the worst dog/pet photos i have seen. the fairy lights, flair and “bokeh” is such a distraction from the main subject. the only tip worthwhile is making use of natural light.

  • TByte

    Yep. Might as well throw Snapchat filters on them.

  • OldPom
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  • OMG…. I like this and I need to try

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