Ever wanted to capture your puppy in the pawfect photo but frustrated by the lighting conditions or when your puppy decides it’s suddenly camera shy!? We can relate! Here at Banksia Park Puppies, we take many puppy photos per week for our website and customers, and we usually need to work with whatever Mother Nature decides on any given day and the personality of each puppy. We don’t have any professional gear or fancy setups, usually just a basic DSLR camera, the subject ie. the puppy and location ie. the park. We are sometimes asked by our Banksia Park Community for tips on how to take good photos of dark coloured puppies and puppies in general, so we thought we would help you out! We definitely aren’t professionals but our years of puppy photography experience will certainly get you started – all you need is your puppy/dog, any camera of choice, a location, and our Top 4 Tips!
Read on for our 4 Top Tips plus a BPP Top Tip & Insight to help take your puppy photography to the next level:
Tip 1. Lighting
This is one of the most important tips for capturing a great snap of your puppy as well as for photography in general! The best lighting conditions are: light shade, overcast and sunny.
This means on the edge of a shady area just before the full-sun area. Light shade areas can either be under a tall tree, shade cloth/sail, verandah or near a building. When your puppy moves deeper into the shaded area you can risk losing its features due to low lighting and black puppies can ‘disappear’ in the dark background. Unfortunately, mosquitoes love the shade as well especially on a warm sunny day so be prepared with some insect repellant. Mozzies usually aren’t a problem for puppies with thick coats but keep an eye out for any that try to get into your puppies delicate areas.
Is when the sun is covered by clouds or sometimes smoke/pollution. This is one of the best weather conditions for capturing details in puppies! Overcast conditions produce soft lighting instead of the contrasting strong lighting and dark shadows on a full-sun day! Sometimes overcast days means rain which is not always great for your camera! It is fine for your puppy/dog to experience being rained-on and most of the time they will enjoy it – just be mindful that your puppy is fully dried-off on a cold/rainy day!
A Sunny day always make a photo look warm, bright and cheery! The light is great for not only showing up most puppy features but also capturing the glistening highlights in their fur, eyes, and whiskers! Try to avoid a full-sun aspect especially on hot Summer’s days which can cause your puppy to over-heat and become dehydrated.
These cute Cavoodle siblings have been positioned under a single large tree. As you can see in this photo the puppies are in an open-shaded position just on the edge of where the shade meets the light. This means that it isn’t too shaded/dark but also not too bright/glary from full-sun! This light-shade position means that details are captured in the puppies fur, eyes etc. without harsh dark shadows. This photoshoot was in March (at the start of Autumn) which is still fairly sunny and warm. Because of the warm/sunny weather, it was taken in the evening between 3 and 4pm which means that the sun and light were softer than in the middle of the day and of course cooler in temperature!
Tip 2. Time of Day
Sometimes the time of day cannot be controlled especially when your pooch has pulled a super cute pose and you need to capture it asap! Whether you have been selective about the time of day or not we will help you out with the what works best during that time!
This is a magical time of day when the sun slowly emerges from the horizon and produces a warm and gentle light source! Some mornings may even have the added bonus of mist which can make for an interesting/mysterious photo and your puppy will look magical!
Photos in an open area are pawfect for this time of day! The light is still soft during the morning which will capture nice details of your puppy and you won’t need to use a shaded area.
The middle of the day is generally too sunny and bright (unless overcast) but is a great time to use light/open shade! If you need to take photos this time of day (especially during hot Summer days) pose your puppy under trees, a verandah or shade sail. It is also a good time of day if you like photography or black and white photography with high contrast ie. strong lights/whites with strong darks/shadows.
This time of day is overall a good time for puppy photos! During Summer it can sometimes still be quite hot with strong light but is a great time of day to capture the glistening highlights in your puppy’s fur, eyes and whiskers.
Evenings are another amazing time of day for puppy photography enthusiasts. A sky and horizon filled with warm colours and soft warm light make puppy photos look semi-pro! This is a great time of day to capture the detail of your puppy as well as have a beautiful backdrop!
Nighttime can, unfortunately, be too dark for puppy photography and result in a blurry dark photo. However this can be avoided by using the flash option on your camera/phone, a slow shutter speed to capture the most amount of light or the best and easiest option is taking your puppy inside and using home lighting as your light source and furnishings as your backdrop!
Puppy photography can be practiced all year round but our personal favorite seasons are Autumn and Spring! The lighting during these times is favorable as it is generally softer than Summer and lighter/brighter than Winter. Autumn has the added bonus of a backdrop of Autumnal colours/leaves and Spring has beautiful flowers and fresh green grass!
This photo of a gorgeous Cavador puppy was taken in the morning between 9-10am, early April. It was a beautiful time of day as the sun was peeping through the trees in the park. In that particular spot, it was still a bit too shady so the puppy was located where soft light was streaming through the trees. The surrounding area was shaded so the puppy became the feature and her light coloured fur and pink harness really stood-out against the darker background.
Tip 3. Position
Your puppy’s pose and position can take your photography from paw to pawsome! It’s all very well to pick the best time of day and lighting but then forget to your pose your pooch in a flattering position or realise that your black Cavoodle magically disappeared into a dark coloured background. To avoid fluffy-butt pics or puppy-chameleons here are some tips to help you out!
A good way to position your pooch is to face it towards the light source. This will enable your puppy’s beautiful facial features to be highlighted and visible in the photo. Facing your puppy forward like a portrait is the most well known and flattering position! When you and your puppy get confident you can try different poses such as side pose, action shot, sleeping pose (easy-peasy) etc.
Backgrounds are often overlooked and understated but can make a big difference to the overall vibe. They can make a puppy either stand out and become the feature subject or recede and blend in with the surroundings. Here at Banksia Park Puppies, we like to use green grass, trees, and our park environment as our background/backdrop and theme. Not only are these a part of our puppies upbringing and our business brand but this backdrop enables all coat colours and puppy breeds to stand out and be the star!
We mainly take puppy photos outside using natural light and the natural environment but there are times and weather conditions where this is undesirable and uncomfortable for our puppies so indoor photography is required! Our indoor set up is basic but gets the job done so we are unable to recommend a professional set up but here are some basic tips for indoor puppy photography…
Try to use as much natural light as possible by posing your puppy near windows or a see-through door. If the area is windowless or if it is nighttime turn on the lights or get creative and use a lamp as the light source and play-around with puppy poses, props and backdrops!
BPP TOP TIP:
Some photographers say don’t work with children or animals for the very reason that they are unpredictable! But don’t worry, you’ll enjoy puppy photography, even more, when you switch your camera setting to ‘Action/Sports’ or adjust your camera’s manual settings to a faster shutter speed! Why’s this? Well, the quicker your camera takes a photo frame the more likely you will be able to capture your puppy playing, running, bounding and just being a puppy! When puppies are awake they are always on the move and using a general camera setting or slower shutter speed will result in missing the pawfect puppy moment and instead the photo will look like a blurry blob against a backdrop! On a camera phone go into the camera’s Settings, then Camera Modes, then Edit Modes and select (or drag and drop) Sports or Action mode (phone settings may differ per device brand and model).
The ‘Sports’ mode with the fast shutter speed helped to capture these cute Cavoodles in action! This photo was taken in the middle of the day and in a full-sun aspect but as it was at the end of Autumn the sun/light wasn’t too strong. The puppies are also facing the light, so no harsh visible shadows across the puppies’ bodies.
Tip 4. Persuasion
You maybe be thinking woah hold on a sec – these tips are all very well but how do you encourage your puppy to pose and obey your instructions in the first place!? Don’t be disheartened, here are some handy ideas to help your puppy comply.
Squeaky dog toys are the best tool when enticing or distracting your puppy for a photo. The noise can even cause your puppy to head-tilt or perk its ears which makes for the cutest pic!
Most puppy/dog owners love to spoil their pooch with treats and this is a great way to entice (errr bribe) them to pose for a photo! Some puppies and dogs can even perform cool tricks with the use of treats which makes for a great action shot!
What paw-pal doesn’t love peanut butter!? Best of all it can be smeared onto or under most objects which can not only keep your puppy occupied but entice them to pose in the pawfect position! Just remember to use the low-sugar/salt variety and use only as a treat as overconsumption of this high-fat condiment can lead to weight gain in most dog breeds.
Is your puppy a stage-9 clinger and you don’t fancy taking photos of your feet!? All good, a fun distraction is key and that usually involves a play-mate. If you have a relative or friend with a paw-pal bring them along for a dual photo shoot! Distraction, playtime and lasting memories all in one, minus the feet pics!
Puppy training is beneficially for your puppy regardless if it’s intended for those pawfect puppy snaps or not! We recommend Ian The Dog Trainer, but there is also puppy training information on the internet and YouTube!
You’re channeling a celebrity puppyrazzi, but you realise that your paw-pal is on red-cordial! This is an ideal time to burn up your puppy’s extra energy and take them for an exercise and play session! Even a walk around the park can calm your puppy enough to sit still and pose!
Finding it challenging juggling a puppy and a camera!? That’s where an assistant can come in handy! It’s best your puppy/dog knows the assistant so they are comfortable when being handled and will listen to their commands. Your assistant can be useful to hold your puppy and then quickly move out of the frame, yet still be close enough to keep your puppy out of potential danger. They can also interact and play with your puppy and be a part of the photoshoot.
Here at Banksia Park Puppies our puppies are usually too young for rigid puppy training and to understand what a doggy treat is and we prefer our adult dogs to eat healthy well-balanced meals and not be treat-obsessed so doggy treats are only limited to special occasions and for dental health! So you may be wondering what puppy photography persuasion tricks do we use? We actually use sound! Either whistling, calling out “pup-pup”, “puppy” or dog’s name or using a squeaky dog toy to get their attention. We mainly work solo when taking our puppy photos and rarely have the luxury of an assistant to hold or distract puppies while we take pictures, so using sound is simple and it works! For our photoshoots, we like to capture our puppies acting naturally so we place them down in a section of the park and let them do their thing, which is always entertaining and makes for a spontaneous snap! If we want them to look at the camera we will call out or whistle to get their attention – pretty basic but gets the job done! For our 6 week photos, our puppies are still at that age where they are calm enough to sit still and be puppyrazzied! For the active and older puppies, they are photographed in the Puppy Playground area or in a section of the park where they can run and play but still have their photos taken!
You might be familiar with this style of photo for our 6-week puppy photos on our website and Priority List! The puppies are posed on a garden bed with faux grass underneath for comfort and so the puppies ‘pop’ against the background! The garden bed is chest height so it saves the photographer from bending down too much. The puppies at this age are pretty compliant and move around just enough to get photos from all angles! We do get the odd active pup who wants to run-off so we use a squeaky toy to distract them from the novelty of the garden bed!
Black and dark coloured puppies are commonly misunderstood when it comes to puppy photography! The key is to get so good lighting to make their coat and features stand out and show up their beautiful highlights! It’s best to position your dark coloured puppy facing towards the light source and try to avoid overcast/gloomy days or very sunny days where dark shadows can form. Inside photography is fine too as long as there is plenty of ligh coming from windows, lamps or house lighting.
This photo was taken under a verandah which created open/light shade. This means that there was still plenty of light to show up details in the puppy and surrounds and a little glisten in the eyes.
The light on a Summers evening is soft and warm which has highlighted Trinity’s face. This is a nice way to focus on a particular subject or feature or create beautiful highlights in the fur and eyes!
What’s even better than one puppy!? Four! If you are lucky enough to know friends and family with paw-pals then why not ask them around for play-group and a photo shoot at the same time!
For a different approach why not try backlit photos!? It creates a beautiful soft halo around the subject/puppy! The key is to make sure there is enough light to gently highlight the rest of the body otherwise that may look too dark especially with a black Schnoodle/puppy!
Action shots are fun to take! When we photograph our parent dogs we like to occupy them with their favourite toys or let them do their thing – run, sniff, play! Here, Gemini and her sausage toy were captured with a fast shutter speed.
This photo of a Schnoodle was taken on a Spring afternoon! The lighting was perfect as it was bright enough to show the gorgeous highlights in the fur and eyes.
How do you get your puppy or dog to pose and produce pawsome photographs!? Share with us your tips below…