dog photography blog

A few words of advice for choosing a photographer.

You have decided you would like to have some professional photographs taken of your dog and possibly you as well. Where do you start?

The obvious place is the internet and there will be a lot of photographers out there so which one is right for you? What do you need to know about the photographer or the company before you book and spend your money?

Their images are the obvious place to start but how do you know the images they have on display on hteir web site and social media are even theirs? You need to get to know your photographer in order to make an informed decision. Now, there are lots of photographers in the UK, but how do you know which photographer is right for you? How do you decode all of their claims? How do you know if they are any good?

Here are six top tips.

  1. What does Award Winning Photographer mean?

Lots of photographers have won awards. They may have won an award last week for winning the ‘dads’ race’ at the school sports day. Obviously, that recent award is not relevant to photography, so, your ‘award winning’ photographer needs an award that’s relevant to your requirements. The photographer may have won an award for wedding photography, that is not much use to you if you require great dog photography, in addition because styles are continually changing an award-winning style from 5 years ago could look very old fashioned today. So, ask the photographer when they won their awards and what were the awards for. Have a conversation with the photographer, meet with them in person in a coffee shop so you get to know them and what they can do.

2. Price

As with everything in life ‘you get what you pay for’. Don’t simply buy on price. Bad photography can ruin your images, make your dog look awful and worst of all, show you and your dog in a bad way. At the time of writing (2019) a good dog photographer will be charging about £75 - £95 for an hour session, there may or may not be any included prints however, always ask for a price list for all the print and canvas sizes plus any additional products, then there are no nasty surprises. Make sure the photographer is open and clear up front about the money involved.

3. Insurance

Please make sure that your photographer has both Public Liability insurance and Professional Indemnity insurance. Do not use anyone who does not have insurance.

4. Consistency

It is very easy for anyone to put their best twenty dog portraits shots on to a web site. However, those top twenty pictures may have taken ten years accrue. You need someone who is able to deliver top quality images time after time. If you choose a photographer to shoot 20 different shots of your dog in a one hour session, they all have to be top quality. Ask to see a complete shoot from a previous client.

5. Testimonials

Don’t rely on the photographers’ web site for testimonials. They could be made up. If you are on social media, have a look on their Facebook page, you can then message the person giving the testimonial, to check it out.

6. What does being a member of a Professional Body indicate?

Some Photographers are Members of a Professional Body, the organisations have names like BIPP, MPA, SWPP, AOP. They also have a qualification process. The three main qualifications are Licentiateship, Associateship and Fellowship. These are quite old-fashioned names that indicate the level of competency the photographer has reached within the organisation.

·     Licentiateship - Entry level qualification, showing an established professional level of skill and competence

·     Associateship - A high standard of craftsmanship and creative ability

·     Fellowship - Attainable for distinguished and exceptional ability and creativity

However, some fantastic photographers do not belong to these organisations or have decided not to gain qualifications beyond Licentiateship.

Conclusion - follow your instincts, don't go for the cheapest, look for good testimonials on social media and ask to see a full portfolio of work.

What to do on a wet Monday?

What to do on a wet Monday?

Look at photographs of dogs in the rain! I just love dogs attitude to rain, most of them just do not care, some are not quite as sure but I love being out in the rain with my dogs and quite strangely I love working out in the rain photographing dogs.

All it needs is the right clothing so we are warm and dry, make sure the dog is having a great time and we are all set!

Many dogs enjoy getting wet, this image is a great example of that…

Spaniel jumping into water

Now you might say this is not fair because this was taken in a sunny day so the dogs owner and I were still in the warm sun and the dog is choosing to jump in the water to get the ball and you would be right, the dog is happy and content to get wet to get the ball.

This dog would probably also do that in the pouring rain and the adverse weather would make for a very different looking shot that would have been atmospheric and moody, a very different look to the bright sparkle we see in the splash!

So even though it is a wet Monday, think of splashing through a country lane with your dog and your dog is having a great time and you are loving watching your dog have a great time.

You both know there is a warm and dry house waiting for you where you can dry off and that should mean you can really let go and enjoy the rain.

It can be very quiet when it is raining and time for reflection and though can allow us to realise we are ok, we are able to deal with life and we are loved and wanted, especially by our dog. Walking with your dog is the rain can be a great experience, having you and your dog photographed together having fun in the rain will be a very different and still a great experience that will produce some amazing images that will remind you of the time you and your dog were out in the rain having a great time together and this will make you smile.

Smiling is always a good thing, happy times and happy memories make us smile for years after the actual event has gone, that’s why I love creating images for you.

First time in the studio...

What do you do when a dog has never been in a dog photography studio before, he has no idea what is going on and has never seen a flash before? How do you get a good photograph let alone one that will WOW his owner?

This is where my extensive experience as a dog behaviourist really comes into its own as I can understand the body language the dog is showing me and I can help the owners understand their dog and how he is reacting and they can stay relaxed. It is the combination of understanding the dog and helping the owners that helps the dog relax very quickly and feel confident enough to show off his character.

It is the character of the dog that must shine through in the photograph as that is what the owner and the viewer want to see, that draws the viewer in to the photograph and makes them stop a little longer to take in the view!

As part of the settling in process in our studio, we allow the dog to run free and explore the studio and whilst we are doing this we fire the flashes. The burst of light and the sounds the flashes make can startle a dog initially but with sufficient repetition they soon relax and ignore the lights and sounds.

This is Bruce, a three year old Pug who had never been in a dog photography studio before and who was very wary when he first came in.

His owner was just as worried as she thought he would be a nightmare, wouldn’t sit still and would cock his leg up on everything.

She wanted photographs of Bruce on his own and with her which is always a challenge but it something we are used to working through to produce our usual high standard of images.

The photograph above was achieved without treats or toys, Bruce just really got into the whole role of being a model and he just loved performing for the camera.

For a complete beginner he certainly learned fast and found this is something he can really do and, pardon the expression, get his teeth into!

He loved the studio, he loved the lights and he loved posing. His owner loved the whole studio experience and this is what she said in a follow up email when I asked her if she enjoyed it:

“Oh Saturday was just brilliant- Bruce really surprised me at how much he was posing, he really enjoyed it!”

This is what you get when you and your dog come for a dog photography studio experience, we all have a great deal of fun and I make lots of silly noises whilst behind the camera so we get really great expressions from the dog.

The hour soon flies by and by the end of the session we will have taken between 200 and 250 images. These are sorted after the shoot and we choose around 30 to edit, process and then we come to your house to show you our work and this is where you can order the images you love.

Our job is to make choosing as difficult as possible by presenting you with 30 images that you will love so much you will want to buy them all!

We love photographing dogs in our studio, we love photographing dogs on location and we make sure we do our best to help you have the best experience possible.


Frank is a Frug who has style...

Frank is a Frug, a French bulldog cross Pug and he has a favourite walking essential, his Julius K9 harness.

Frank loves it because it is very smart and he thinks he looks great in it, who are we to disagree?

Comfort and safety are very important to Frank so as he takes his daily exercise he knows he is smart and safe.

Frank is one of our dog actors and models and he loves to work in front of the camera, we use Bowen lights, Canon cameras and lenses to create the most engaging images for our clients. We are based near Leicester in the centre of the UK and we specialise in commercial dog photography and creating images that truly engage the viewer which only enhances their perception of the service, product or brand the image is promoting.

Frank is so happy working n the studio, off camera are other dog actors and dog models from our team just relaxing and waiting their turn to work on their project.

We love Franks expression in this photograph as he just looks so relaxed and cool, he is a dude which is a good reflection and a positive association for the Julius K9 harness he is modelling.

Composition

The second most important of a photograph is composition, the most important part is light and I will write on that seperately.

Composition makes or breaks the photograph, it can engage the viewer or make the photograph invisible because it fails to draw the viewers attention.

When photographing dogs, the most important element is the eyes, the need to sharp and in focus, another important aspect is expression. The most expressive part of a dog is the head as you have the eyes, ears and head tilt all of which combine for eye catching expressions that will draw the viewer but it is still the composition that needs to be correct.

That is a very interesting statement because what is correct composition? It is whatever you think works because you are taking the photograph and your vision is unique to you.

You do have an obligation to capture images the dogs owner will love also so you have to take many pictures but your composition is still the key, if the image is sharp and the owner can see the dogs eyes, they will largely be happy and not pay much attention to the composition if the composition is correct.

If the composition is not correct the owner will notice because something in the picture has drawn there attention away from their dog.

Cluttered backgrounds can be a big source of distraction because we are so focussed n the dog through the viewfinder we stop looking to see what is around the dog. If the back ground is simple and plain, it is easier to blur by adjusting your depth of field. if it is cluttered, it is much harder to blur to make is more insignificant. 

Where you place the dog in the frame can make or break your photograph so have a think where you want the dog to be, either move your focus point or focus and recompose to achieve your desired effect and try lots os different positions in the frame as you can create very different pictures by placing the dog in different parts of the frame.

Get close to the dog, be bold, be creative and don't be afraid to make a mistake, it is free to delete an image!