Create Dog Photographs in Color versus Black and White - dummies

Create Dog Photographs in Color versus Black and White

By Kim Rodgers, Sarah Sypniewski

All digital cameras record color photographs by default, but most have a monochrome mode for black-and-white photography. It’s up to you which mode you prefer to photograph dogs in, but shooting in color offers more flexibility.

You can always change a photo to black and white in postprocessing, but you can’t change a photo originally taken in black and white back to color. Changing your photographs to black and white is an artistic decision that dramatically affects how viewers perceive your final image.

Use color strategically for dog photography

Just because your camera shoots in color doesn’t mean that everything you create has to be in color, but you should use color strategically. When shooting in color, be aware of what’s surrounding the dog you’re shooting and try to complement it.

For instance, if your dog is a dark color, position him on a light-colored carpet or couch. Conversely, if your dog is white, don’t photograph him against a white wall that he blends in with. Keep the following tips in mind whenever you shoot in color:

  • Look for bold colors you can use as a background, like a bright red couch, a turquoise building, a yellow garage door, or even a brightly colored wall of graffiti.

  • Choose props, like toys, based on their colors. If your dog is sitting pretty on a bright orange couch, like Alamo, go for the blue toy as opposed to something that would clash, like red.


    34mm, 1/250 sec., f/8, 250

  • Consider the psychological effects that colors have and use this effect to evoke a feeling from your viewers. Cool tones like blue and gray aren’t as cheery as warmer tones like orange and red. If you’re setting the tone for a quiet, serious moment, stay away from the bright and happy spectrum of the color wheel.

  • Change your point of view for even more options. If you’re outdoors on a clear day and you photograph from below, like the photographer did here, you may have a gorgeous blue background at your disposal.


50mm, 1/200 sec., f/2.8, 125

Set a mood with black and white for dog photography

Black-and-white photography is all about setting a mood. Because you’re stripping out all the color from your photograph, it becomes just about your subject, composition, and story. You may feel like you’re removing an important part of your image by converting it to black and white, but if used judiciously, taking away color can actually add to the strength of your image.


50mm, 1/500 sec., f/1.8, 100    50mm, 1/500 sec., f/1.8, 100

Consider Gus in this image. The color image on the left depicts a cute puppy posing for the camera on what appears to be a gloomy day. The grass he’s sitting on isn’t uniform in color and creates a somewhat distracting pattern that pulls attention away from Gus.

In contrast, the black-and-white image on the right removes the distracting background color, which gives more weight to Gus’s expressive eyes — exactly where the photographer wanted to draw the viewer.