I keep a running tally of the number of dogs I photograph at Longmont Humane Society and I total it up at the end of each year. A little behind on checking my tally, I just did it last week and found that I have photographed over 3,000 dogs! The 3,000th dog was Casey, seen above in blue bandana. (Bandana donated by Indy&Olly). The other photos are a selection of some of the other amazing dogs I’ve photographed at LHS over the years. Between shelter dogs, client dogs and friends and family dogs, I’ve photographed well over 4,000.
I’ve learned a lot over the years while photographing dogs. The most important thing I put into practice is patience. Shelter dogs are just dogs like any other dogs. They are simply in transition between homes at no fault of their own. But being in a new, unknown environment can bring up lots of emotions for them.
Like all dogs, some are nervous, shy, anxious, overly joyful, excited, wiggly, super happy, and energetic. For all of these emotions, patience is required to get a photograph. Shy and nervous dogs take time to warm up to me and my camera and I need to build trust with them. Highly energetic dogs need time to settle down and figure out what I want from them in order to focus for a few short seconds.
So for me, patience means taking my time, getting to know the dog and letting them get to know me. I often just put the camera down and sit with the dog, pet them, give them treats, or talk to them. If they are afraid of my camera, I let them sniff it and eat treats off of the camera or near the camera. If they are super excited, I give them a calming massage. If that doesn’t work, I join them and get a little loud with funny noises that usually stop them in their tracks to give me a two second pose and an expression for the camera.
Do you need tips for photographing your own dog? If so, send me an email I’d be happy to answer your questions.