Background and Perspective during Dog Photography - dummies

Background and Perspective during Dog Photography

By Kim Rodgers, Sarah Sypniewski

The dog you’re photographing should always remain the star of the show. A big part of that is making sure your background is just that — the background. The background shouldn’t pull attention from the key elements in the photograph but rather support them in a meaningful and tasteful way.

Say you and Lucky are at the park after a rousing game of fetch, and you want to capture her post-play bliss. Before you even plop down, do a quick scan of the area to find the best, least-distracting background.

Choose a grassy patch out of the way instead of that bench right in front of the basketball court. Having a blanket of green behind Lucky allows her to shine as the subject while still telling a story about where she is (as riveting as it is, you don’t want the shirts versus skins throwdown pulling attention away from Lucky).

After you’re in your spot, look through your lens so you can home in even further on the exact scene your camera is capturing. Pay attention to distractions like litter, sticks, or dirt patches. Some distractions are okay, but try to keep them to a minimum.

You determine perspective by where and how you place your camera in relation to the subject and other key elements you’re photographing, and perspective determines a lot about the story you tell. Decide which element is most important and highlight that.

Say you’re still in the park with Lucky and you want to communicate how much she loves playing fetch. You could put her mangled ball in front of her and focus on that while she lies behind it.

The viewer would see the details of the ball — doggie slobber, teeth marks, and bits of grass — and would also see Lucky in the background, gazing lovingly at it. Such an image conveys how much she plays without her even needing to be in action.

Alternatively, you could leave the ball out of the picture and instead focus on the details of Lucky’s face, like her lolling tongue and smiling eyes. Position your camera lower than Lucky and photograph upwards to capture the full feeling of triumph Lucky has after conquering the ball. Viewers don’t need to have the ball in the photo to understand the feeling Lucky has; the angle takes care of it.

In general, if you want to celebrate your subject, you can use the technique of positioning your camera low and photographing upwards. Getting above her and photographing downwards helps you incorporate environmental elements. Try from the side and see what happens. Let your imagination run wild!