Dog Portraits

For many years I worked as a dog walker and it was during that time that I started getting interested in photography.  My background is in cinematography, but after working on a few bad crews the whole idea of working in film and video lost its luster and I was sorta lost as to what to do next.  When I bought a Canon Rebel XTi way back when, that's when I remembered I still loved pictures, be it motion or stills, I wanted to be behind a camera.  One problem I faced was I didn't know what I wanted to photograph, I had no idea where to begin.  I also had to remember what it takes to take a decent picture and I had to learn digital photography.  I pretty much only knew film at that point and had spent some time in a dark room.  Lucky for me, my job answered many of the questions I had.

Photographing dogs was the easiest option for me.  I was around at least a dozen a day and the company I worked for had hundreds of clients.  On slow days I'd photograph some of the dogs and send them to my employer, who would put them on our Facebook page.  I was happy to have subjects and happy to have a place to showcase my pictures.  A few years later, my employer grew tremendously and we began hosting events where I would do a photobooth type of thing for dogs.

This turned in to a much different experience than just photographing dogs on the street.  One issue I ran in to very early on was getting dogs to look at the camera.  Dogs tend to not look directly at the camera.  My theory is that they might think of it as a big eye.  Dogs don't like making eye contact with strangers, so maybe they see my camera as a stranger with a big eye?  Or maybe its the reflection in the lens?  Or maybe its just the fact that I'm pointing a big black box at them that makes a weird snapping noise?  Either way, I have to be quick with the trigger to get them looking in the camera.

But after shooting for a while I realized that dogs don't always need to look directly in the camera for it to be a decent shot.  The photo above is of my pal Gracie, who just happens to be very comfortable in front of the camera.  I got lucky with her but 90% of the time I have to try to make a decent picture of a dog who won't look anywhere in my direction.  Most recent example of this was just this last weekend I took pictures of my friend's dogs just for fun.

This is Rupert.  He's actually not so bad about not looking in to the camera but I chose this picture for him to match his room mate County.

County wasn't too in to having his picture taken.  I decided for the final shots County and Rupert's portraits should be similar since they live together.  I wish I had gotten lower for County's, but I'm a tall guy and they're small dogs!  He's also a little bit more profile than I'd like.  Rupert is closer to the 45 degree angle I was looking for, County is almost 90 degree away.  But you can still see expression in his eyes and ears, which is the goal for any dog portrait, despite the angle.

Dog portraits are both fun and challenging.  I get to spend time with man's best friend and usually I'm outside and enjoying the weather as well.  But dogs have a mind of their own and if they don't want their picture taken they're going to make your job extremely challenging.