Got a cute dog? I mean, who would say no to that? How could you say that about such a precious face as that?!
But what if your dog is super cute? Y’know, the dog that stops people in the street, whether they’re walking, running, or driving, to say, “OH MY GOD, LOOK AT THAT DOG!”
If so, your dog might be ready to be featured on Instagram. Dog accounts are a big deal. People who don’t have dogs flock to them to live vicariously through the owners, while dog owners follow other beautiful dogs to share the love.
But how do you make your dog Insta-worthy? Most of it relies not on your dog but on composition: the way in which the photo was taken, the backdrop, the posing, and the editing, after the fact. From using lighting to your advantage to keeping your dog’s attention with dog chews, here’s how you can take those Insta-worthy dog photos.
- Work in a relaxing environment
First and foremost, your photos are only as good as your model is calm and happy. Your dog won’t be able to pose for photographs if they’re anxious or distracted.
If your dog isn’t used to having their photo taken, you should start slowly. Let your dog sniff your camera so they can realize it’s something fun, not a potential threat. Also, avoid using a flash, as that could startle your dog and unsettle them for the rest of your shoot.
After that, make sure you’re working on something without too many distractions. If your dog is quick to get anxious, an environment with a lot of stimulation will drive them up the wall. Instead of trying to take photos at the dog park, aim for a nearby pond, quiet trail, or calm park.
- Know your background
Once you know where your dog is comfortable, you’re also going to want a compelling background. While your subject is the most important thing, your background also means a lot. For instance, a dog on a green screen background will still be cute, but that photo is more likely to go viral if it were taken in front of a field of sunflowers or potted mums.
The best thing to think about is your dog’s coat color versus their background. You want some sort of contrast. This will ensure that your dog will pop, standing out from the background rather than getting washed out. You can work with similar tones if you want, say a white dog on a cream colored background, but you want to ensure that your dog is clearly visible and can be immediately seen when looking at the photo.
Source: Josep Suria/Shutterstock
- Lighting and angles matter
Have you ever taken an accidental selfie of yourself from below? Right, you know how horrible of a look it is. The angle and lighting is incredibly unfortunate, making us all look sort of bloated, greasy, and tired.
You need to think of the same when it comes to taking photos of your dog.
You should work with natural light, most of all. It will allow your dog to feel comfortable, rather than having lighting fixtures pointed at them — which may make them uncomfortable, perturbed, and anxious.
If you want to use lighting fixtures, you should do so moderately. That means being cautious with how many lights you use — one, because of how it will look on your dog’s fur; and two, so it doesn’t make them look anxious.
For instance, if you’re trying to take Insta-worthy photos, a photo taken out in nature with obviously unnatural lighting will look bad. So use natural lighting to the fullest extent.
Similarly, try and shoot your dog from below. Lower shots allow you to get a more comfortable looking photo of your dog, as if the viewer is lying down and looking up at your dog. Otherwise, you can take downward photos, too. This will often involve photos of your dog looking up at you, smiling all the while.
- Use treats to keep your dog’s attention
Natural dog treats go a long way to keeping your dog’s attention when you ask for it. As you’ve likely found with training, your dog does best when they have treats to focus on. Otherwise, they’re bound to get distracted by a nearby animal or another person they find interesting — someone who isn’t talking to them in a voice they hear all the time.
Regularly give your dogs treats whenever you ask them to sit, stay, or pose. It’s a simple way to keep their attention, ensuring they’re able to stay still while you take many photos of them from different angles.
Source: Inna Reznik/Shutterstock
- Don’t overstage
One thing that makes certain Instagram photos cringy is their posing. It’s apparent when a model is unnaturally positioned, trying far too hard to get a specific look.
The same goes for photos of dogs, yet there’s a larger issue than with human models. Dogs don’t have the same conception of what they’re being asked/forced to do.
So an unnaturally positioned dog may appear as some sort of owner abuse. Do all you can to make your dog feel comfortable while working on your photoshoot. Try to get them to smile and have fun. Give them toys, provide them with treats, and make the most of their photoshoot for them.
- Use sufficient gear
You’ve got that friend who always wanted to be a rockstar. So they went out and bought a vintage Gibson Les Paul, a Marshall JCM800 and 1960A cabinet, and $1,000 worth of pedals. Then, they post a video of themselves playing on Instagram and you think, “Man, you really need to practice the basics a little more.”
The same goes for photography. Great gear allows you to take better photos, but you won’t get good photos unless you know the ropes when it comes to composition, lighting, and more.
If you have the funds, you should consider investing in a professional camera. But modern smartphones are good enough that you can get away with shooting on your iPhone.
- Put editing to work
Lastly, remember to edit. While your photos may look good on their own, they’ll really pop with some editing. This involves editing curves, levels, exposure levels, saturation, and more. You can even blur backgrounds to make your dog better stand out, or simply use photo filters to give tones more of a vintage look or a tone that truly pops!
Memories are all we have in life so taking the best photos are important! If you have the funds, you should consider investing in a professional camera like a Canon or Nikon.
Most of all, you want to get people’s attention. Think of what other people want to see and show it off. Just make sure your dog loves the process — that’ll incline them to want to continue having their photo taken.