With pet photography, taking a picture from a dog perspective can make all the difference. By shooting from a low angle, you capture shots that are more engaging and interesting than if you were to shoot from a higher perspective.
This is because we, as humans, are used to looking down at dogs. So by photographing them from their level, you instantly connect with the viewer. Not only that, but you also show off your subject’s personality in a much more dynamic way.
Shooting from a high angle can make your pet photos look generic and staged. But capturing them from below will add interest and life to your images. So next time you photograph Fido or Fluffy, get down on the ground and see what happens!
Dog Perspective: 7 Composition-Based Perspectives
There are two different types of perspectives in photography—composition and equipment based. (Sometimes, it’s a mixture of both).
Composition-based perspective is when your perspective depends on your physical position or the arrangement of elements in an image.
Equipment-based perspective is achieved using specific lenses, such as distortion lenses, fast lenses, or other products.
1. Eye Level
The most effective perspective is to photograph the pet from their eye level. Viewers are more empathetic and attracted to images from the same perspective as the subject.
For pet photography, this means seeing life from the viewpoint of a dog, cat, or horse. This is intriguing to us humans.
Using the focus points on your camera is a good way to ensure the eyes are focused. I like to set them straight in the middle.
Then I focus on the eyes, keep holding the shutter halfway down to lock the focus, and move my camera to my ideal composition. Setting the aperture a few stops higher can also remove some difficulty in focusing on the eyes.
2. Down Below
A cool change of scenery can be as simple as lying down on the floor. With a wide-angle lens or a lens that allows a close focus range, laying down and having a pet stand over, you can make for a very fun shot.
A popular and beloved shooting perspective for cats is placing a curious feline on a glass table and photographing them from underneath. It creates an almost spaceship-like form. These perspectives are very uncommon. And viewers love them.
3. Up Above
The cutest look is a dog looking up at you, begging for a treat. It’s a fan favorite. And shooting from above and looking down can create a very cute portrait. Just make sure the eyes are in focus!
Use a treat, toy, or odd noises to get ears up and an alert facial expression.
If you’re using an object like a toy or treat, place it directly above your lens. Or you can even rest it on the top of your lens! This gets the pet looking in the correct spot.
4. From Behind
A brilliant storytelling shot would be from between a pet’s ears. Whether it be a dog, a cat, or even a lizard, the viewer becomes one with the animal. And they see the world from the animal’s perspective.
Similar to why people strap GoPros or small cameras to the head of their pets, photography allows you to view life through the eyes of another being. Give this a go in a very atmospheric location. And watch how the audience responds to your image.
Sometimes the location itself is the most powerful element in an image. As such, keeping the subject a small part of the landscape is a form of perspective in pet photography.
This creates a vast, cinematic look to your images and immerses the viewer in the shot’s environment. The pet is suddenly thrust into a wonderful story.
6. Negative Space
Although a photo is frozen, the viewer can still imagine the subject’s next step. Leaving enough negative space in the direction you expect your subject to continue moving in will make it seem like it’s bouncing off the photograph.
If the photograph is cropped with little negative space, the image will feel claustrophobic and caged.
You can play with negative space to create a new photographic perspective, like skewing your subject off to the side or playing with off-center compositions. A silhouette can also be a way of playing with negative space.
Photography has the wonderful ability to make small, minuscule details look fascinating. Have you ever truly looked at the texture of a dog’s nose or the roughness of a cat’s tongue?
Shooting such things close up is a way to breathe new life into the simplest characteristics of a pet. The benefit of close-up work is that pet owners find such factors of their pet’s physical appearance incredibly endearing.
3 Equipment-Based Perspectives
All lenses have different focal lengths and f/stops. The focal length is the distance between the lens and its focus. It affects the perspective (for example, a focal length for a 16mm lens will show a much wider frame than a 200mm lens).
The smaller the aperture (a larger number), the less light it lets in and the deeper the depth of field.
1. Wide-Angle Lenses
As the name implies, wide-angle lenses have a much wider view than normal lenses. You can get super creative and play with angles and compositions.
Wide-angle lenses distort perspective significantly, which makes for a cool effect. You can see wide-angle distortion used often on large dog breeds such as Great Danes. It accentuates the dog’s massive size. And it shows off horses’ long legs.
But wide-angle lenses can be more difficult to use because of the amount of distortion. To capture such a wide view, the glass of the lens is curved or rounded. This creates an unusual look when the subject is not at the correct angle.
2. Standard Lenses
Also known as normal lenses, standard lenses produce an image that roughly matches what the human eye sees. The image looks natural to the viewer.
Standard lenses have an angle of view of around 50 to 55 degrees diagonally. They are some of the easiest lenses to use because you do not have to factor in distortion. The perspective with these lenses mimics that of our organic way of viewing.
But these lenses also tend to have wide-open apertures, making them great for a shallow depth of field. This brings us to the next section…
3. Shallow and Deep Depths of Fields
A unique and beautiful perspective is a soft photograph with a creamy bokeh. For those who adore dreamy, ethereal, or soft photographs, a wide aperture will quickly become your most trusted friend.
Filmmakers consistently utilize wide-open apertures. It creates a soft focus with a shallow depth of field to give the viewer the illusion of a dream-like state.
As much validity as there is in the shallow depth of field, deep depth of field is equally appreciated and admired. Deep depth of field allows the subject to become a part of an impressive landscape or location.
This is a totally different kind of perspective, as the subject is not isolated. Instead, they are integrated into the image.
Conclusion: How to Make Use of a Dog Perspective in Pet Photography
With these perspective ideas, go out there and experiment! Whether photographing your pet for your Instagram account or photographing a dog show as a professional, using these perspective tricks will be useful.