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Take Inventory of Basic Info about the Dog You're Photographing

When dogs are the subjects of your photos, you need to take inventory of basic info: breed, color, size, and age. First off, what kind of dog is Baxter, and do you want to highlight his breed in your photos? Is Baxter a working dog, like a German Shepherd, known for their ability to complete certain tasks?

Is he a toy poodle who likes being toted around in his own bag? Or maybe he’s a mutt you adopted from a local shelter. Thinking about his breed is a good way to come up with ideas for photos.

What color is Baxter? Color is an important consideration because you need to use backgrounds that show off his coloring well, not backgrounds that compete with his color or wash it out. For dark dogs, you want to use light backgrounds, and for light dogs, you want to use dark backgrounds. Pure black and pure white dogs have special concerns.

How big is Baxter? Obviously, you need to be conscious of his size so you can choose settings and angles that convey that size. Keeping his size in mind is especially important if he’s extra large or extra tiny. Try to think of ways you can set up a shot to communicate his size to the viewer. Here, the photographer photographed this Mastiff from below in order to exaggerate his already enormous paws.

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24mm, 1/200 sec., f/2.8, 500

How old is Baxter? Is he a puppy? A senior? A gangly adolescent? This little tidbit helps you decide not only where to shoot but also how much of an attention span he has. If he’s a puppy, he probably doesn’t know commands or boundaries yet, so keeping him in a small, secure location with few distractions works best.

If he’s an energetic adolescent or adult, he probably has the stamina to go on a hike or frolic through a meadow. A senior dog most likely has reduced mobility and maybe even poor eyesight and hearing, so flat territory that’s quiet and familiar is the best setting for him.

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