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Complete Dog Photography Guide

Full step by step instructions from beginner to advanced.

Taking pictures of dogs can be easy… but also be very difficult.

Dog photography is very similar to kids, you hope they will politely sit still and you’ll get the perfect picture but in reality, LOTS can go wrong!

The Swanky Paws has had years of experience, we’ve done it all. From first launching the brand off our own dogs becoming Insta-famous, all the way to publishing picture books with dogs dressed in paw-some outfits. 

Dog pics in nature, home, studio,  indoors/outdoors, professional, fun, camera phone, proper camera etc, we’ve done it all.

Read on as we reveal all the tips & tricks learnt over years of hard lessons.

Swanky Paws charity book front cover for the volume one with instafamous dog peaches
The Annual Swanky Paws Charity Book for RSPCA. Over 100+ dogs professionally photographed.

Skip ahead if you only one one section-

Dog Tips & Tricks

  1. Dog Photography Toolkit
  2. Attention Span
  3. Looking At The Lens
  4. Distractions
  5. Comfort Levels
  6. Pee Time
  7. Outfits & Accessories
  8. Training Tips & Schedule

Photography Tips & Tricks

  1. Lighting
  2. Camera Choice
  3. Background
  4. Effects

Step 1 - Dog Photography Toolkit

You’d be surprised the amount of “professional” dog photographers that don’t know anything about dogs, how they behave and how to get their attention & keep it.

Like every skill, there is tips & tricks but to truly be effective, certain items can make everything MUCH easier!

Here are some of the secret weapons trainers & photographers use in order of importance.

1) Strange Sounds- This may come as a shock but the tool we find most valuable is toys/objects that make strange sounds. For this to be effective, it needs to be sounds the dogs never or rarely heard. Use sparingly for hero shot, they will get used to it. 

PRO TIP: The more different sounds on hand the better.

2) Favourite Toy- This will vary for all dogs but bring their favourite chew toy, play toy, cuddly bear. If you need them to focus, hold behind the lens or waive around to get attention off other objects.

2) Treats- Most dogs will follow their nose. The smellier the better when it comes to treats for pet photography. Use sparingly as you don’t want the dog to get full. Not all dogs are food motivated but a smelly treat like sausage will get 90% of them laser focused.

PRO TIP: Feed your pup 50% of normal breakfast amount to make them hungrier for the shoot. The treats will fill them up.

3) Hand Towell- Often overlooked but a small hand towel will allow you to quickly & easily wipe off dirty treat marks, dirt or slobber. Dogs always find a way to make their face dirty when you want them clean.

4) Peanut Butter- A mega good trick of the trade. Use your finger to scoop some peanut butter and rub it against the tongue or roof inside the dogs mouth for some crazy looking face & tongues out pics.

Ball/Fetch Object

5) Ball- To roll

7) Poop Bag & Paper Towel- Kind of obvious but dogs will wee/poop during picture sessions. When they’ve gotta go trust they will!

Some indoor venues will have paper towels on hand but we always brought our own cleaning kits encase of mess.

PRO TIP: Distraction Positioning- Behind The Lens

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