Capture Candid Moments when Photographing Dogs - dummies

Capture Candid Moments when Photographing Dogs

By Kim Rodgers, Sarah Sypniewski

Candid shots are all about capturing and conveying what sets Libby apart from, say, Butch. These are the spur-of-the-moment, unplanned pictures that capture life as it unfolds. You don’t need to use many commands or tell the dog what to do (well, not too much, anyway). You should let Libby do whatever it is she wants to do and just shoot. Anything goes!

Portraits are nice, but the true joy of photographing dogs is getting those images that instantly say something about your specific dog. You want to be able to look at these photos and exclaim, “Oh my gosh! I captured Charm’s ear thing perfectly!” or, “Aw! That’s totally Sundance’s dinnertime look!”

You get bonus points if you make tears of recognition well up in your own eyes upon viewing the final images. Getting these images, though, takes equal parts persistence, patience, foxlike cunning, and just pure luck.

The first rule in capturing candids is to always have your camera, and always be ready to point it at your dog when the moment strikes, no matter what time it is. Most humans would probably punch you if you tried to stick a lens in their face before they’ve had their coffee.

Luckily, dogs don’t drink coffee, so you have more options when it comes to breaking out the camera. But that doesn’t mean all hours are created equal.

Think about what your dog is like at different times of day and what you want to capture. If he’s sleepy during the day and you want to get some shots of him curled up on his favorite bed or lounging around in his favorite sunny spot in the yard, try the afternoon.

If you’d rather get shots of him playing fetch or running around, choose a time when he’s most energetic — perhaps right when he wakes up. The key to getting the most genuine images is to follow your dog’s natural daily routine.

Candid shots are great because they can happen anytime, so long as your camera is within reach! These shots aren’t posed, so it’s just a matter of keeping your eyes open for the right moments. Maybe you’re with your dog at your favorite corner hangout when you notice how amazing the lighting is. Or maybe you discover him napping in the funniest position while you’re cleaning the house.


50mm, 1/250 sec., f/3.5, 500

Here is a candid moment captured at the end of the photo shoot with Flora. As the photographers were packing up, they saw Flora plop down on the carpet and begin burying her tired eyes in her paws, so one photographer quickly got down at her level and continued shooting.

When shooting candid photos, quickly and accurately choosing your camera settings is important, so make sure you do your homework!