Since word got out that I photograph dogs too, not just reptiles and crazy stuff, I seem to have been getting swamped with them! Not that it’s a bad thing. I’ve met some absolute sweethearts over the last few weeks, and one or two little horrors (but we love them too, and we won’t name names!).
One of the problems you encounter when photographing dogs, or most animals, is that even very well behaved and very well trained ones often don’t do exactly what you want. They’re always looking for mum or dad, even when they’re not in the room, they’re a little nervous about being in a strange environment, and a glossy black floor is almost always something entirely new to them.
So, we have to be patient, and give them some time to adjust and relax. Usually, however, they’re not really bothered about the flashing lights, which is one battle won before we even start, but the behaviour can cause other potential problems. Getting one dog to sit, pose and look the way you want them to in front of the camera is tricky, and takes time and care. To get two dogs to look the way you want them to in front of the camera can be near impossible.
One client absolutely had to have an image of her two dogs posed perfectly side by side. Apparently, the dogs had other ideas. All they wanted to do was jump about, roll around and play, or try to steal the entire bag of doggy treats. Outbursts and events like these can make for some fantastic shots for an “outtakes” album (as shown above), but it’s not usually what you want to hang on your wall.
Fortunately, shooting on a solid black gives us alternate options.
“How?”, I hear you ask. Well, the solution here was simple. Shoot them both individually, and composite them together. This is nothing new, techniques like this have been around since the darkroom, but using an all black set makes the process go much more smoothly. Compositing in such a manner can also allow for a larger print and still retain the high quality our clients demand. The above image, for example, looks stunning as a 30″x20″ canvas and would easily hold up to scrutiny at a much larger size.
Can’t decide between several images? Compositing comes in handy here too. Even if it’s just one animal, several images can be printed side by side on a single panoramic print or canvas to give you a range that really shows off your dog’s personality.
Composite prints do require some extra work, which means that they can cost a little more, but the results speak for themselves.
And what of Amber, the springer spaniel from the image at the top? Well, we got what we needed, and when dad popped onto the set to join her, she couldn’t be happier.
We regularly receive requests asking if owners can be photographed with their pets, and usually the answer is yes. At least, that’s the answer we give, even if the animals don’t agree.