Photographing Your Dog: How To Take the Paw-fect Dog Photo

smiling golden retriever outside with a green backdrop.
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As humans, we take a lot of photos! In the endless sea of images we collect daily, only a few will stand the test of time. For many people, their most treasured photos are of their beloved pets. 

But what’s the secret behind the perfect shot of our pets? We’ve gathered a set of expert tips to help you achieve the perfect shot of your special furry friend. Whether you’re using a smartphone, a point-and-shoot analog camera, or a DSLM, you’ll find these tips useful when photographing your pooch and creating inspiring and eternal shots of your dog.

pink background with a Jack Russel dog standing on it's legs.

Character: Your Dog’s Personality

The first thing you’ll want to think about is your dog’s character. You want to bring your dog’s personality into the forefront of the camera lens.

What is it you love most about your dog? Do you want to capture their happy face? Are you looking to showcase that cute expression that makes their personality unique? Or maybe you want to highlight how they fly in the air while chasing a frisbee? Know ahead of time which aspect of your dog’s personality you want to highlight in your photo.

Jack Russel chasing a ball on the beach

Choosing The Right Location

The environment makes all the difference when you’re after the perfect shot. Choose a place where you and your fluffy subject feel most comfortable. For example, an outdoor location will naturally propel the joy out of your model. A front or backyard that is preferably fenced is a good option to avoid unnecessary escape hassles. If you’re shooting indoors, choose a room with good natural light and enough space for your dog to move around comfortably. 

If you want an epic setting, you can take the photography session to any of America’s amazing National Parks. Just make sure you plan ahead and bring a PA (photography assistant) so you can relax and let your vision flow. Make sure to also check the Park’s guidelines for permits and pet regulations ahead of time.

Man spraying a Dalmatian dog outside with a hose.

Have Fun With Your Pup!

Make sure you have enrichment toys handy to keep your dog interested. Provide plenty of positive reinforcement to make them feel at ease. The photography session should be a fun bonding experience; when you and your furry friend can connect and enjoy each other’s company. 

Read your dog’s body language and keep an eye out for any expression of fatigue or discomfort (lip-licking, ears pinned back, shaking). If you notice they’re uncomfortable, reschedule the shoot for another time. You want to capture your dog’s essence, so let them be who they are. Connect to your inner playful self while remaining attentive and responsible. 

Grey and white dog close up photo

PHOTOGRAPHY 101: Shutter Speed, Lens Aperture and ISO

Learning very basic photography will help you get the most out of your tools, be it a smartphone or a DSLR camera. Understanding concepts like shutter speed, lens aperture, and ISO will allow you to experiment with different effects. Becoming a wiz behind the camera is not an easy task and requires years of practice and study. But for the sake of this article, we’ll cover the basics. 

When you hear that familiar “click” sound as the camera takes a shot, two principal things occur and both of these occurrences determine how much light the chamber receives.

Shutter Speed

The shutter (which is a mechanical diaphragm) opens and closes for a determined set of time. While this is occurring, light enters through the lens while it is open at a wider or steeper circumference. The time the shutter opens and closes is called the shutter speed, which determines how long the camera’s sensor is exposed to light. 


The size of the opening of the lens is called the lens aperture, which controls how much light enters the camera. Shutter speeds are measured from 1/2000 to 10 seconds (from quick to slow, 1/2000 being very quick and 10 seconds slow), and lens apertures are measured from F2 to F22 (from wide open to narrow, F1 being wide and F22 very narrow).


In broad terms, ISO is the sensibility of the lens and it darkens or brightens an image depending on the level. A high ISO produces a bright image, while a low ISO darkens it. 

Corgi dog jumping and playing in the water

Types of Dog Photography

Now that you know some basic photography, you’re ready to get your gear and go picture hunting with Fido! Let’s learn a bit about the styles of photography and which kind is best for your dog’s breed.

Portrait Photography

If your Rover is a Dashund or a Beagle, you may want to take a portrait photograph to showcase their expressions. To achieve an excellent portrait photo of your pup, you’ll need a tripod that is flexible and adaptable. However, you can DIY a tripod with your wrists and elbows. All you have to do is position your elbows against a surface and press, this will support the wrists. You want to shoot at your dog’s eye level, and depending on their height, you may have to lay on the ground. 

To add more interest and personality to your photos, you can use props and accessories that reflect your dog’s character. Just make sure the props are safe and comfortable for your dog, and don’t distract from the main subject of the photo.

A wide lens aperture (between F2 and F5.6) and a fast shutter speed (could be 1/2000) will make your pup stand out and create a blurry background. This trick is great for conveying your pup’s facial features and expressions and blurring unnecessary background noise.  

Silouette of a husky dog taken outside during sunset


If you’re the tutor of a Greyhound, you could consider drawing attention to your dog’s shape. Silhouette photos lack detail and focus on creating black shapes against a beautiful background. The emphasis is placed on the subject’s form, and the result is a deeply meaningful image.

Sunsets and sundowns are the perfect moments to take silhouette photos. You only need to frame your dog against a light background, such as a clear sky or a white wall. For a crisp silhouette, your subject needs to be at a higher level than the camera lens. You will likely need to crouch low on the ground. Choose a place that is comfortable for laying down on, such as sand or grass (beware of critters!).

You can try with a mid-level lens aperture, such as an F6.3 with a low ISO (100) and a mid-level shutter speed (try 1/100). Adjust the ISO sensibility or widen the lens aperture if the light is very low. 

curley-haired tan dog playing in the water

Motion Freeze

If you’re pet-parenting a Weimaraner, you may want to portray them in action. In motion freeze photography, time stands still, and the moment is crystallized in a raw photo. They’re remarkably easy to achieve if the conditions are right: all you need is abundant light and a pup ready to roll! 

To capture your dog’s unique behaviors, try shooting in burst mode or using a fast shutter speed to freeze the action. You can also experiment with different angles or perspectives to add more depth and interest to your photos.

Choose a time of day with plenty of light: noon on a sunny day, for example. Gather your dog’s favorite toys and get them in the mood for playtime. If the weather is hot, you can also play with water sprinklers and hoses. 

Motion Freeze is all about shutter speed. If you’re using a DSLM camera, you can set it to “shutter priority mode” (you’ll find it under an “S” on the dial or “Tv” on Canon cameras).  A shutter speed of between 1/250 and 1/500 will do. Make sure to focus on the subject: you can select “continuous autofocus mode” on a DSLM camera or just “autofocus” if you’re using a smartphone. 

grey and white dog playing fetch with a stick in their mouth

Motion Blur

If your best friend is a Rat Terrier, then you may be looking to display them in energetic sprint mode. In motion blur photography the background is blurry and the action is frozen. This is a great option to emphasize your dog’s agility, speed, and overall excitement for their joyous existence!

You may need a PA photography assistant to create this effect. Choose an outdoor area that is fenced so your dog can run freely without concern. Have your PA place your dog about 30 yards away from you (remember to stand at their height) and have them call your dog once they’ve moved a fair distance. You should be in the middle between your dog and your PA. Try to briefly follow your dog’s movement as he passes by you. This technique called panning can be difficult to achieve but loads of fun to try. 

black and white dog shaking off water outside in a pool

Your Dog, Your Muse

Because technologies are advancing at the speed of light, it makes no difference if you have an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy, or a Motorola. Pet photos are the highest-ranked images in your mobile’s camera roll because they’re the go-to photos for sharing with friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. 

However, these special snapshots are more than a mere conversation starter. Those adorable bits of pixel data are a permanent part of our dearest memories. Whether you’re photographing your dog at their birthday, or just spending quality time with them, you’ll always treasure the moments spent photographing your dog as your muse.

happy white dog running in a grassy field

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