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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Any advice for photographing dog portraits
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08/24/2010 12:48:30 PM · #1
Well, I got me a little job. I've agreed to shoot a Cairn Terrier reunion in exchange for a puppy. The organizer would like group portraits of previous litters. I'm wondering if anybody has any experience with this so I can be prepared before I get there. The reunion is unfortunately from 11-2 which will make for harsher light (unless it's cloudy). I'm planning on shooting at doggy level.

Anybody undertake something like this before?
08/24/2010 12:51:47 PM · #2
Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_875184.jpg lol

Sorry Doc, couldn't resist :P
08/24/2010 01:04:51 PM · #3
Rub bacon grease all over yourself before heading out.
08/24/2010 01:08:30 PM · #4
I know you can get eye contact momentarily from a dog with a squeak toy or by making strange noises with your mouth.

I hope you'll have assistance though in keeping them wrangled and be prepared for quick shutter speeds.

Probably want to get a hold of some sort of diffusion panel, if you can't bring along strobes to over-power the noon sun.
08/24/2010 01:08:50 PM · #5
Bring treats and a squeaky toy. It always works with my dogs.
08/24/2010 01:32:20 PM · #6
Hi Jason,

I co-own a couple of Cairns (still have weekend visitations, ha ha) and can assure you one would be a great addition to your family. They are very sturdy for a small dog and can hike anywhere. They are great with kids too.

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Others have given you good advise for getting their attention, etc. I would like to also point out how nice the texture of their fur looks in motion. After getting your standard group shots of the litters I would try some motion shots with the whole litter running toward you if you can. These shots could potentially look really neat and would be different from the usual. Good luck, and I look forward to what I am sure will be many shots on DPC of your new family addition when you get it.

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08/24/2010 01:34:23 PM · #7
Whatever you do, make sure you have a lot of wranglers on hand to help control them! You can never have too many.
08/24/2010 01:50:18 PM · #8
You might think about taking along an assistant to get the dogs' attention... a squeak toy works with some dogs, but a subtle noise like crumpling paper behind your back can really work well. You'll only have seconds once their attention is focused, though.
Since they are small dogs, consider setting up a diffuser. If you have access to a canopy, the kind used for outdoor events, that would work wonders. They are usually white translucent plastic, and would diffuse light nicely. Use a fill flash (off a bounce card) to bring up subject illumination with respect to BG, or orient yourself so that the background is shaded.
08/24/2010 02:35:32 PM · #9
Squeak toy is an excellent idea and one I hadn't thought of. I may head to the park between now and then to see what it looks like. It's not until October 2nd so I might get lucky and get an overcast day.

I'm excited about a Cairn. I grew up with a Norwich Terrier and he was a great dog. My kids have been begging and begging for a dog and I've been resistant until now (I didn't want a third child). I've finally caved and it is going to be a surprise for their birthdays.
08/24/2010 04:17:09 PM · #10
Harsh lighting is actually good for dog hair, especially black. It brings out the highlights because with diffused light your dog hair will look flat.
08/24/2010 04:20:05 PM · #11
LOL from the way you worded the title I thought this was spam, sound like you want to take a picture of a picture. ;)
08/24/2010 04:38:32 PM · #12
Originally posted by smardaz:

LOL from the way you worded the title I thought this was spam, sound like you want to take a picture of a picture. ;)


LOL. The title was awkward because I wanted to avoid "Any advice for shooting dogs"
08/24/2010 04:39:38 PM · #13
Squeak toys are good for most dogs, but professional dog handlers use liver to bait the dogs. A food item is a great stimulus to get them to sit and watch your every movement.

You need to be set up in advance as they will not sit still long. You need to get very low to the ground so you can be on their level, this includes tripods and lights too.

Dogs have expressions, just like humans, so try to draw a smile or a reaction, the owner is best to be on hand for this task, but remember, you need to be in control.

For small dogs, positioning them on a riser to elevate them for the shot is smart, as is having some sort of background that accentuates the dog, so watch out for black dog on a black background and issues of conflict like that. Having several drapes of different colours is smart.

Bring a little stool to sit on so you do not have sore knees and back after a long day of shooting. Have a remote release so you can set the camera in the middle while you are off centre to shoot and catch their attention.

Research the bred of dog before you photograph them, you can gain insights into their attitudes and do a better job if you know and understand the client. Most important, be patient. Dogs have attention spans shorter than mine, and that says a lot... lol

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Message edited by author 2010-08-24 16:45:32.
08/24/2010 04:43:35 PM · #14
Do dogs have rights? The organizer is the breeder and wants me to take photos of the event to use on her website. I figured I'd also offer up individual pics to the owners for a price. Is it possible I need a model release from the dog owners to have the group photos used by the breeder?
08/24/2010 04:49:22 PM · #15
I don't have any experience with dog shoots, but I do with Cairns. I have a black brindle and he is very smart and well behaved, except he is not animal friendly. As far as people go he hasn't met one yet that he hasn't liked, young or old. The children love him and he loves us all. :)
08/24/2010 04:50:02 PM · #16
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Do dogs have rights? The organizer is the breeder and wants me to take photos of the event to use on her website. I figured I'd also offer up individual pics to the owners for a price. Is it possible I need a model release from the dog owners to have the group photos used by the breeder?


Sadly, animals do not have rights in North America. In some countries they do have rights or at least limited rights. However, in Canada and the USA, they are considered property. A release is needed if you have commercial interests whereby the owner waives their rights to future royalties and such. It is no different than if you are shooting a car or a boat.

Be warned - Dog people are very passionate about their pets, so expect the unusual or the bizarre in reaction to signing a waiver.

There are many commercial photographers who shoot dogs shows as a profession. Some have exclusive rights to specific shows. So, be sure that you can shoot at the event and / or the venue where the dogs are to gather.

Message edited by author 2010-08-24 16:51:57.
08/24/2010 05:06:23 PM · #17
Originally posted by Morgan:

Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Do dogs have rights? The organizer is the breeder and wants me to take photos of the event to use on her website. I figured I'd also offer up individual pics to the owners for a price. Is it possible I need a model release from the dog owners to have the group photos used by the breeder?


Sadly, animals do not have rights in North America. In some countries they do have rights or at least limited rights. However, in Canada and the USA, they are considered property. A release is needed if you have commercial interests whereby the owner waives their rights to future royalties and such. It is no different than if you are shooting a car or a boat.

Be warned - Dog people are very passionate about their pets, so expect the unusual or the bizarre in reaction to signing a waiver.

There are many commercial photographers who shoot dogs shows as a profession. Some have exclusive rights to specific shows. So, be sure that you can shoot at the event and / or the venue where the dogs are to gather.


Luckily this "venue" is just a park where people are getting together. It's pretty informal.

OK, I'll be looking into a model release, although I still can't wrap my mind completely around that one.
08/24/2010 05:12:18 PM · #18
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

...a Cairn Terrier reunion...


What the hell kind of bored shat is that? A dog reunion?
08/24/2010 05:25:52 PM · #19
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Do dogs have rights?

They have the right to remain silent. Unfortunately all the dogs in my neighborhood waive that right.
08/24/2010 05:34:55 PM · #20
Originally posted by coryboehne:

Originally posted by DrAchoo:

...a Cairn Terrier reunion...


What the hell kind of bored shat is that? A dog reunion?


It's not uncommon; litters are split up and go to different families (obviously) and a "reunion" brings littermates and their families back together to see how everyone's doing. They are kinda cool, actually.

R.
08/24/2010 05:38:32 PM · #21
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Originally posted by coryboehne:

Originally posted by DrAchoo:

...a Cairn Terrier reunion...


What the hell kind of bored shat is that? A dog reunion?


It's not uncommon; litters are split up and go to different families (obviously) and a "reunion" brings littermates and their families back together to see how everyone's doing. They are kinda cool, actually.

R.

Is it like Thanksgiving where everyone gets drunk and spouts off about their true feelings for each other and their resentment from past incidents and someone ends up getting shot?
08/24/2010 08:50:33 PM · #22
The advice here has all been spot on. I would strongly recommend the use of an assistant for dog wrangling and attention grabbing. Consider having owners each bring one of their pet's favorite noise making toys. This gives you variety, which is important since a lot of dogs will be more or less interested in different types of toys. Be ready to fire off bursts because many expressions are super short lived, so have your camera ready to fire before your assistant tries to get their attention. The running shot idea could be pretty cool, as well.
08/24/2010 09:37:22 PM · #23
Try to get low too. Its amazing how different dogs, especially puppies look from their eye level. Of course when you DO get down to their level be prepared for nose marks on your lens. Or shoot telephoto and quietly snag some shots from your belly...
08/24/2010 10:03:13 PM · #24
Originally posted by Art Roflmao:

....Is it like Thanksgiving where everyone gets drunk and spouts off about their true feelings for each other and their resentment from past incidents and someone ends up getting shot?


No, it's where the parents have trouble keeping the children from having sex.
08/24/2010 10:09:00 PM · #25
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Do dogs have rights? The organizer is the breeder and wants me to take photos of the event to use on her website. I figured I'd also offer up individual pics to the owners for a price. Is it possible I need a model release from the dog owners to have the group photos used by the breeder?


Check state law... in some jurisdictions dogs (and other pets) may need a property release.
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