Steven Havers Dog Photographers Workshop

I love learning about photography and I love sharing what I know! I know a lot about dogs through my work as a dog behaviourist and I love applying that knowledge to photographing dogs as it makes them easier to predict. Especially when the shots are not staged and this two day work shop was certainly not staged! The environment was open, natural and frequented by other dog walkers which made it great fun and a real challenge.

I love sharing what I have learned with fellow photographers so they can also learn and take better photographs of their dogs which is why I became a professional photographer, to learn and to share!

The first morning of the workshop was spent getting to know my companions for the next two days, what they know already and what they need to know and learn in the workshop and this was done with coffee and cake just to make sure everyone was relaxed and happy. Everyone learns better when cake is involved!

Then their equipment was the subject of discussion because this may limit what can be achieved. There was a great mix of cameras and lenses so there was a great discussion about the difference between prime lenses, telephotos and zooms and how each can help achieve the shot you want.

We decamped to our chosen location for the rest of the day and I brought two dogs into the mix whilst I assessed the images being taken and how the image taken compared to the image my clients had envisioned.

One of the biggest requirements was a sharply focussed shot and my clients were amazed to learn about the limitations of their lenses in terms of focussing distances. Everyone took a shot and then immediately zoomed in on the back of their cameras to see if the eye was sharp and the two main factors why the shots were not sharp was the subject was too far away for the lens to capture sufficient detail to stand a zoom and camera movement. 

Keeping a camera moving smoothly when a dog is running is a tricky skill to learn and uneven or jerky camera movement is by far the most common cause of an out of focus shot. Good technique is essential, being relaxed is essential yet that is the hardest thing to do when holding a camera and lens and moving! It is too tempting to grip like you are going to drop it and this will make for uneven and jerky movements resulting in shots that are not as sharp as you would like!

Understanding depth of field in relation to the distance between you and your subject was clearly another subject that my clients had not considered when making their choices about composing their picture. Judging distances was also an interesting discussion and asking my clients to guess how far 10 metres was gave some very interesting answers! This is a very important part of deciding on your depth of field setting, you know that F stop thing that creates and controls the depth of field!

A truly fascinating experience and we saw the difference in day two! This was entirely practical and I brought my four German shepherds along to provide plenty of subject matter on which to practice and by the end of the day my clients were producing many more lovely sharp photographs of dogs than they were on the Monday morning. Every one said they thoroughly enjoyed themselves, they all remarked how calm and patient I am and how much they had all learned. 

I love sharing what I know because we all then enjoy our photography more and we can all take better photographs of our dogs! What a great two days!