Everything a puppy does is super cute. This is an objective fact, so you would think a puppy photoshoot would be easy—but this is not the case. Puppies are frenetic balls of energy. They are into everything and never stop moving. If you have a new puppy or have been asked to immortalise a friend’s, these are our top tips for a successful puppy photoshoot.
1. Wrangle a Puppy Photoshoot with Help
Ask a friend or the owner to act as a puppy wrangler. The second you pay attention to the puppy, they will want to be all over you. Having someone reset them to their starting point at the other end of the garden (for example) will make the puppy photoshoot run smoother. If the owner is there to help you out, take the opportunity to photograph them together.
2. Get on Their Level
Puppies are small, so to get action shots of running and playing, you must get down to their level. Laying down and taking photos will help your composition, fill the frame with their cuteness, and allow you to separate them from the background.
3. Think About the Background
To make your pup stand out, remove clutter from the space where you are shooting. A sheet, blanket, or towel can provide a consistent, clean backdrop for perfect puppy portraits if you are inside.
4. Go Natural
For best results, try and take your photos using natural light. If you are taking photos indoors, use a window with a voil for a large softbox effect. Good lighting can make or break your pictures. Treats and toys can help keep the puppy in the light.
5. Embrace the Wild Outdoors
You want to see that little nose in all its glory. Having the sun directly overhead will cause shadows you could do without. Shoot in the morning or early evening to make the most of the warm glow from a low sun.
6. A Fast Shutter for Fast Animals
Unlike a dog photoshoot, where they will ‘sit’ and ‘stay’, puppies are into everything. They move all the time. If you want to see their features and not just a fur blur, crank up your shutter speed to 1/500 or faster.
7. Use Burst Mode
Burst mode is your friend. It does mean sorting through more shots when you come to import. But catching that moment when they shake that oversize toy is worth the disk space. Burst mode will be essential in catching those floppy ears mid flap.
8. Focus on the Eyes
Unless you are taking a photo of a floppy ear tip or a close up of a tiny paw, focusing on the eyes will help your viewer engage emotionally with your subject. Check if your camera has a pet mode. The Sony range has eye AF for animals. This will focus track the puppy’s eyes, allowing you to nail action shots.
9. Use Props
Chew toys, dads shoes, or food are a great way to entertain and control your pup. Include household items or a fully grown dog for scale. Sticks can be messy indoors, so why not try a carrot or broccoli as a healthy alternative.
10. Go ‘Shallow’
To further separate your subject from the surroundings, use a telephoto lens. Keep in mind the amount of the picture in focus depends on the distance between you, puppy, and background. Gardens offer the most space to experiment with and lots of exciting things to explore.
11. Tire Them Out
A tired puppy is a manageable puppy. Once they have performed daring feats of climbing, chewing, and licking your camera, they will be easier to photograph. If they fall completely asleep, you can take some time to get photos without them disappearing out of frame.
12. Get Close
Once they are tired, you can use a wide-angle lens to pick out features. The pads on their paws, the texture of their nose, the dribbly toy they nap with. Puppies often bond with a favourite toy or blanket, so try to incorporate these as foreground interest.
13. Use Texture
Offset soft fur against a rough burlap sack or smooth hair against a shaggy rug. The use of texture will enhance your viewers desire to smoosh that fuzzy little face.
14. Think About Color
Use matching or complementary colors to make your puppy blend in or stand out. Dark color dogs are easier to capture on light color backgrounds.
15. Puppy Placement
Let’s face it, a puppy in or on anything is cuteness overload. If you can move the sleepy puppy to a basket, teacup, watering can, or household item, you are going to get a fantastic photo.
There is nothing as exciting as getting a new puppy. Use these top tips to capture your cute new family member in adorable ways. It will not be long before your puppy photoshoot becomes a full-grown dog photoshoot.
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