How to Take Photos of Dogs Stretching - dummies

How to Take Photos of Dogs Stretching

By Kim Rodgers, Sarah Sypniewski

You may think it’s a stretch to photograph a dog stretching, but stretching is most likely part of your dog’s daily ritual, and it can actually make for a pretty striking image. Most dogs stretch in a very slow, almost sloth-like movement, but it’s still movement.

Stretching is really hard to predict in most dogs, so you just have to wait for it. You can beat your buddy out of bed in the morning and set up camp with your camera to try to capture the stretching he does when he wakes up, or you can just keep your eyes open for opportunities throughout the day.

If you happen to be lucky enough to have your camera handy when this fateful moment arrives, act on it! You’ll be glad you did.

Here are some ideas and tips for capturing that perfect stretch:

  • Pull out your camera and get it ready to go. Consider your settings now because you probably won’t have much time to futz with them when Luka finally does decide to stretch those long legs.

  • Set your camera to shutter-priority mode and choose a somewhat fast shutter speed. Try starting with 1/250 second, which should be fast enough to freeze the action of a stretch.

  • Gauge the amount of light you have to work with and choose your ISO appropriately.

  • Decide what it is about the stretch you’re most interested in so you can compose your shot accordingly.

    • Exaggerate your dog’s outstretched toes by shooting head-on with a wide-angle lens and selectively focusing on the front feet.

    • Accentuate that “downward dog” yoga pose by shooting a profile shot that captures the deep arch in his back.

    • Zoom in tightly for a detail of that smiling face he makes mid-stretch, or creatively crop the back feet as he comes out of the stretch and kicks out for that hind-leg-toe-point-one-foot-at-a-time move.

  • Keep your camera within arm’s length, and as soon as you see signs of a stretch, get on the floor and compose your shot while keeping in mind the details you want to focus on.

  • Many dogs tend to stretch after a long nap; a nice big yawn often signals an impending one. Your own dog may be different, so figure out what his individual signs are and get into position when you see them!

Kali went for an impromptu stretch while the photographer was already photographing her on a studio background. To get this angle, the photographer had to lie on the floor to be at Kali’s level and compose the shot at an angle so you can see not only her outstretched toes but also the arch in her back.


24mm, 1/250 sec., f/5.0, 100

The photographer also cropped her back end out of view so it looks like she’s entering the frame, which leaves some nice negative space around her.