You might be thinking:

Surely there can’t be that much to posing a dog and getting it to look at the camera that you can dedicate a whole topic to the subject, right?

Wrong!

In my opinion, the pose you choose for the dog, the expression and gazing direction make up a huge component of your photo, and lack of attention to these elements is one mistake I see a lot of new photographers and pet parents making.

 

After all, aside from small changes to the editing (and these aren’t final or proper edits!), what is the difference in the shots above? 

Would you agree that each one has a different feeling or mood, or shows something different about Journey, or tells a different story? 

A different pose or expression doesn’t mean the photo is necessarily better or worse, but it can dramatically change the feeling, impression or story we get from the image. (And some may certainly be better or worse!)

Take these four photos as another example.

What has changed here? Really, only the expression and gazing direction. Again, while not every photo is necessarily “bad”, there is definitely one here that I would prefer to use over the others. 

Notice that in both the examples above, even though Journey and Alba were both looking all around in different directions and with different expressions, Emily continued to take photos.

Just because the dog doesn’t look at the camera or in the direction you intended, doesn’t mean it’s a waste. Take the photos.

If you need to, take extra photos to the side they were looking into, and we can use this later to fix the composition. Unexpected, candid shots can often prove more interesting and more full of story than photos of the dog looking into the camera, or in the direction you’d intended.

Most new photographers begin with their dog in a sit, looking at the camera. The mouth of the dog might be open. 

Then, there are variations of this theme. Sitting here, sitting there, sitting everywhere. Looking at the camera. Mouth open.

And I want to be clear, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the dog sitting, or with looking at the camera, or with the mouth being open…

But the fact is that:

  • it doesn’t say much about the dog or their personality except that they are a good dog and they can sit and look at the camera
  • it’s not really very interesting
  • it doesn’t tell a story
  • it doesn’t often suit the mood you want to create

So in this topic, I want to encourage you to move beyond sit-and-look-at-the-camera. Know that those photos have their place… but there’s so much more we can be doing. 

Pose & Expression

Expression

The expression on our dog's face, and even where they are looking, whether at the camera, off to the side, or even completely away from the camera, can totally change the story and mood in our photo.

Poses

Most of us start with our dog sitting in photos, but it isn't very interesting and usually doesn't tell much of a story. Learn how varying the dog's poses can dramatically change the mood, feeling and story in your photos.

Challenge: Perfect Personality

🥸(all): Our job is to capture personalities & tell stories. What do you need to think about to best show a subject's personality? That's what the July challenge is all about!

Workshop: Pose & Expression

Here we explore: Expression, gazing direction and pose, and how these can all tell different stories, or show different aspects of our subjects.

Attention

Getting Attention: Importance of Location

Getting Attention: Temperament & Pressure

Dog Behaviour

Photographing Challenging Dogs

Take a look BTS and at the finished result from some recent photoshoots with "challenging" dogs, with tips and tricks for getting those perfect shots.

Dog Point of View & Body Language

Sometimes, without realising it, we can cause our dogs stress during photoshoots. This lesson shows how a dog might feel during a shoot, and what signs to look out for that show your dog might be stressed.

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