Spring is here! This is exciting for us pet photographers because it means we get to take pretty photos of dogs, cats and other cats amongst the flowers! Depending on where you’re located, you might have a great variety of flowers to choose from – from cherry blossoms, to magnolias, bluebells, wild garlic, foxgloves and more.
In this post, we’ll uncover 5 ways you can make the most of this colourful time of year when it comes to creating beautiful pet portraits!
Watch the Light
There’s a lot of sun out now since it’s spring spring but be careful! The sun might be higher in the sky but the trees still don’t have an abundance of leaves on them. Which means that blowing out the highlights (making the bright parts of the image so bright that there’s no data left. See this post for more) is a real possibility, when taking photos in full sunlight, even more so than in winter as the sun is starting to get more strength to it.
All the pretty flower fields are usually in wide open spaces that brings about a whole new set of potential problems, like a big open skies that form a “one dimensional background” of only one colour, eg. white, or blue.
But be careful, even when you’re taking photos within the forest, of dappled sunlight that makes the photos really funky looking, with crazy “hotspots” of light filtering through the trees and not fun to edit.
Your best options are probably going to be to take photos either early or late in the day if the sun is out, or wait for more overcast conditions. Try playing with twilight as well if your camera can handle low-light scenarios, as this can give you pretty pastel colours in the sky! I cover so much information about using natural light and getting off auto mode on your camera and on to manual in my course Improve Your Pet Photography!
Get creative! Try creating more depth in a photo by not just having flowers or greens in the background, but use the three dimensional space that your camera can capture and put the lovely flowers in the foreground to create a sense of depth.
Bring out out the dog with an interesting background that isn’t too busy or overwhelming. This way, you can create more interesting photos that look, and feel, more full and have more context.
Try to be creative and get outside the box, the first thought is always to put your subject right in the middle of the flowers, but putting your dog on a path in between the flower fields creates a sort of tunnel of flowers for a different, but still springy feeling. This is a great effect to really frame the dog within the photo – creating kind of a natural vignette!
You can also use taller flower bushes to frame the dog from around and overhead, for even more depth and a sense of the dog really being amongst the scenery.
Don't Let Colours Overwhelm
I am aware that all the colours of spring are very attractive after the dull greys and whites of winter and it is quite easy to get carried away and try to bring ALL the colours in this one perfect photo. Turning up the saturation is one of the mistakes we all made when we started pet photography.
Just remember, your animal still needs to be the star of the show, the first thing people will see when they look at the photo. So yes, by all means, go out and take photos amongst all the pretty flowers, just be aware that they can distract your viewer from your primary subject if they are super over-saturated.
It can be fun to play around with some contrasting, complementary colours to your dog’s coat colour. For example, if you have a yellowy/gold dog, it could be fun to find some blue flowers to contrast it against and still get that spring feel without your photo being overwhelmed by colour and bonus: your dog will stand out much more! Or, if your dog has a reddish coat like Journey, greens work really well in the same way. A simple look at the colour wheel can go a long way.
You can check out this blog post on how to change the colours in your image.
Create a Cohesive Mood
In general, springtime photos will be bright and colorful and happy, therefore we need to make sure that everything else in the photo matches that happy mood of the photo.
So think about everything, from the dog’s pose, to light, the dog’s expression, breed, and even editing to try to sync it all up in one cohesive scene you then capture in a photo.
So if you’re someone who, like me, tends to gravitate towards the darker and moodier edits and final products, you might want to reign all that moodiness in a bit, and unleash all of its potential when you take photos of some dramatic springtime stormy clouds.
Similarly, if you have a very serious, intense-looking dog (ahem, Loki), in the middle of a spring flower field, you might find that the photo doesn’t “Feel” right… because of the disconnect between the dog and the scene! There is so much to this topic which I cover in the Learning Community, and in the Next Level course.
These two photos were taken only minutes apart, but the editing had to be very different for each. Each one has quite a different “mood” ONLY due to his expression! Imagine how different the mood would be with a super happy floofy golden retriever puppy bounding through the flowers, instead of a lying down border collie.
Play with Perspective
While the general rule of pet photography is always to get down low(er), the lush and colorful flowers of spring gives us the opportunity to play around with perspective more.
Flowering plants can look even more interesting from right above, so why not take advantage of that and take some photos of your dog surrounded by fun colorful flowers!
Get creative with the size and breed of your dog to try out more poses, try laying them down and look right ahead at the flowers in a close-up, or look up at the flowers from the ground from underneath your dog (this may be difficult with a very bright sky – an off-camera flash would help. Don’t use the flash built into your camera though! It’s rarely flattering).
Play around, explore your opportunities and always remember to have fun with your dog!
Do you have any questions about taking photos in spring flowers? Ask them below! I would love to help you out!
Otherwise, happy photographing!
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