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Give Clear Directions to Your Furless Models

Photographing dogs and humans at the same time . . . um . . . builds character. There’s no telling which species is easier to manage until you’re right in the midst of photographing, but one thing’s for certain: You have to speak the language of your subjects.

Just like little Feather needs clear commands, the humans need clear instructions to make the photo a success, whether it’s a posed or candid shot. Here are some tips for working with humans:

  • Tell them to pay attention to you, not the dog. Tell them that you’ll worry about the dog.

  • If the shot is interactive, tell them to ignore the camera and just keep interacting with the dog. If the shot is posed, tell them to keep looking at the camera and smiling, no matter what (well, unless zombies suddenly descend upon you; then you can give them permission to run).

  • If you have to tweak their positioning, be as specific as possible. Saying “move a little to your left” isn’t as helpful as “move about 2 inches to your left.”

  • Though you want to make sure they’re paying attention to you and are staying quiet enough to hear your directions, a few jokes and silly banter to keep them relaxed and laughing helps you capture genuine expressions instead of fake smiles.

    And here’s a true insider’s tip from the pros: When you snap off a few shots after the official, “one, two, three, say ‘cheese’” countdown, keep shooting. People naturally relax in the seconds immediately following the release of the shutter. Those are the real faces that you want to be sure to get.

Have a friend act as an assistant to wrangle the canine subject during group shots. That way, the humans can concentrate on themselves and you can worry about your settings and getting the shot.

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