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Never in history has it been easier and more convenient to take great photos of our dogs–we almost always have a camera in our pocket or purse! Cell phone cameras take sensational photos but, just like using a conventional SLR, they require some basic composition on your part to create an image that highlights your dog.
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One secret to shots that make great canvas prints like this photo from CanvasDiscount.com is to get close to your dog. Stepping closer to your dog and really filling much of the frame with him makes him the focal point of the shot.
Don’t rely on your phone’s digital zoom for this kind of shot or you may wind up with a grainy photo. Unless you are shooting with a telephoto lens on a DSLR, the best way to get this shot is to physically step closer to your dog before you take the shot–or, do like we do and take one shot from the first distance then keep shooting as you move closer.
Follow the Rule of Thirds
Imagine that you are superimposing a Tic Tac Toe board over your potential photo. The points where the lines intersect are the most visually interesting points in the frame, ones that will improve your photo composition.
The center square–the place where naturally many of us want to put our subject–is less interesting than those intersecting points so play around with the composition before you take that shot!
Use Natural Lighting
If the interior of your home is dark–as ours often is, don’t fall back on your camera’s flash. Instead, look for a place with natural lighting: your front porch, your yard (watch out for mottled light through trees, though) or a place near a window in your home.
Natural lighting will give your photo more depth than flash photography, which can flatten your dog’s features and give you that dreaded eyeshine that makes your dog’s eyes appear to glow!
Consider A Variety of Angles
Take a few minutes before you grab your camera and your dog to plan out your shots. What photos are you especially wanting to capture? To get these, which direction should you be looking? Where should you be standing? (It’s often best to shoot with the sun at your back.)
Should you be kneeling or standing–or standing up on something to get a different perspective? Consider different angles of the same shot to make it interesting.
Focus on the Eyes
With the long snout of many dogs, it’s possible that, depending on the depth of field in your shot, either the eyes or the nose may be out of focus.
Take a moment to focus on your dog’s eyes (either by focusing your camera or by touching the point of focus on your cell phone screen) to produce a better image.
For all your efforts, there will be times when images come out dark–but a good image can be fixed with some digital manipulation.
On my phone, I use the free Snapseed and Adobe Lightroom apps to lighten images (especially a problem with black dogs). These can lighten your shot without reduction of image quality.
If you don’t have Photoshop, online services like PicMonkey and Canva can manipulate images on your desktop.
Make Eye Contact
Photos in which your dog is looking directly at the camera can’t be beat! Get your dog’s attention with unusual sounds (or the promise of tasty treats!)
Photos with your dog’s eye contact make great MIXPIX® Photo Tiles from CanvasDiscount.com; the tiles are easy to stick, remove and rearrange as you add more shots!
Clear Out the Clutter
Have you ever taken a photo that looked great as you were taking it–but then later seemed cluttered with details? Your photo will be more impactful if your dog is taking up more of the image, like this shot of Barli graduating from his training class. I moved in close to crop out training equipment, chairs and other dogs.
Get Down on Your Dog’s Level
So often, we take photos of our dogs from our vantage point–up above their heads. Try getting down on your dog’s level.
Kneel beside your dog–or sit your dog on the edge of the porch as I did for this photo of Barli, which actually allowed me to shoot from slightly below his level. Simple, clean photos like this are ones that make great photo products like a custom blanket.
Use a Contrasting Background
To make your dog stand out in the photo, look for a contrasting background–light backdrops for dark dogs like our Barli or dark backgrounds for white dogs like Tiki!