9 Dog Photography Tips by a Pet Photographer

Updated On: March 20, 2023 | Published On: July 28, 2021

How To Be A Dog Photographer! Get stunning pictures of your furriest family member without expensive equipment.

As dog owners, your camera roll is probably already filled with hundreds, if not thousands of photos of your dog from all different angles, with different perspectives, from directly at eye-level with a shallow depth of field, to your attempted artsy photos with tree branches and large windows in the background.

These impromptu photo sessions of our furry friends are a good chance to either bond with your pet or to really annoy them. If your ad-hoc photography shoot ends up as the latter, we have Finbarr Murray from Finbarr Murray Photography, a professional photographer and pet photographer to give us his best pet photography tips on how to get good pictures of your dog with just your cellphone and some good natural light.

9 Dog Photography Tips For Great Shots And Fun Dog-Friendly Photo Sessions

by Finbarr Murray


1.  Be Patient 

The first step is the most important, and you probably already know it... put yourself into your doggies mindset and be PATIENT! You have to understand that they have no idea what a camera is, or what a picture is, or even what you're trying to achieve when you present your pet with a camera. 

In fact, the lens of a DSLR camera can actually be scary to a dog because it looks like a big eye staring directly at your dog's face, which can be seen as a challenge in the animal world. So maybe if patience isn’t your strongest point, then you can always get pictures of your dog doing doggy things! It’s how I started out.

2. Take Five!

 It's equally important to know when to stop and take a break for a little bit during your photoshoot. For me, this could literally be the first minutes into the shoot. 

Dogs have ways of telling us "not right now please, I don't feel comfortable" and these are easy signs to recognise as an owner. So be vigilant because the more relaxed and happy your dog is, the better the pictures will be. 

Two things I will always do at the start of a dog photography shoot is to firstly… do nothing. I let every dog get comfortable around me, the environment, and my cameras, and secondly, I let them play and explore a bit. Dogs love being out and about, so letting them explore is a good way to get them settled later for some pictures.

3. Teach your dog to sit

There are tons of videos on Youtube teaching you how to positively train your dog to sit. Just refer to step one above and give them time to get it down (it'll take a while but they'll get there, and when they do you’ll have so many more good pictures and your dog might even have a few more treats for being so smart!). 

A sitting dog is far easier to capture in a picture than a moving one. If you master the sit (and stay) position, another very cute shot you can try that makes for a great photo, is the paw in the air! But again, these things take time, weeks in most cases (see step one!).

4. Use a squeaker

My fella, Sam, will usually hold on to a toy for a few weeks and then rip it apart, hence helping me to build up my epic collection of plastic squeakers. 

So when you are about to get your photo of your pooch, try getting a friend to hold a squeaky toy near your lens and have them use it sparingly because dogs are clever and the squeaking noise will lose its appeal to them really fast. This is the easiest way to get your dog’s attention. When used at the perfect moment, your dog will give you that confused head tilt and look directly into the lens, giving you one hell of a cute photo, and a perfect shot. Just be ready to snap it!

5. Get down and dirty

By which I mean enter your dog's world and lie down to photograph them. Doing this will make them seem bigger in the photograph, and make them stand out more as the subject of the picture. 

Another great tip is to put them up on something off the ground (PLEASE DO THIS SAFELY) like a park bench or table, just nothing too high so that if they decide to jump off it won't be a big jump for them. Make sure you have a friend or a family member nearby to watch over their safety. 

Taking a picture from this perspective really captures your dog's character and personality. Plus when they are sitting on something, they seem to settle in place for a few seconds, giving you the perfect opportunity to get some great shots of your best friend.

6. Set the scene

Try to pick a quiet spot free from distractions so that your dog can focus on you and not have their attention pulled away by people passing by etc. A place with a simple background is best so that the main attraction of the picture is your dog. 

The best time of day to get the perfect images is the golden hour in the evening (I recommend the Lumi iPhone app for this) and always make sure the sun is setting behind your dog.

7. Make it fun

 For example, have treats on hand, water, a few teddies, or their favourite toy, as this could lead to a very cute shot. But more importantly, having those toys there will help your dog to relax during the photo session.

8. Bobble Heads

 If you want a funny image of your dog, try setting your phone to its wide-angle lens, and then get close to their face. This will give your pooch a bobblehead effect, which is very cute.

9. Lastly remember

Any dog photography shoot I do takes longer than a family shoot, and I'll have fewer pictures at the end of it because as much as we love our dogs, they aren't easy to photograph which is our problem, not theirs. 

To photograph a dog, we must enter their world and play by their rules. So as mentioned in step one, be patient with them, but also with yourself. The right shot will come eventually. It might be on your first day or your 100th day. But we have such a short time with our pets, that it’s worth doing and doing well.

If you want to get stunning photos of you and your dog that you will cherish forever in a completely stress-free environment, please feel free to contact www.FinbarrMurrayPhotography.com where your dog will get the Pupstar treatment.
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