How to Take Posed Dog Portraits - dummies

How to Take Posed Dog Portraits

By Kim Rodgers, Sarah Sypniewski

Studio-style portraits come in a variety of styles, each of which serves its own purpose. Don’t fret if you’re left feeling uninspired by a plain-paper backdrop approach. Whether you want to document your puppy’s growth, highlight his exuberant personality, or create an artistic montage of the little details that make him so special, studio-style portraits can do it all!

Headshots in dog photography

The quintessential studio-style portraits, classic doggie headshots hark back to those embarrassing school photos. In the photo of Delilah, the photographer positioned Delilah right smack in the middle of the frame and zoomed in to fill most of the frame with Delilah’s big ol’ head.


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

If your own dog is trained enough to sit and stay exactly where you put her, have her sit at an angle so she has to turn her head to look at you. Change up your angle for a different perspective as well. For example, shooting from slightly above as your dog looks up accentuates her head (it is a headshot after all).

Full body portraits in dog photography

With the obligatory headshot checked off your list, zoom out enough to capture a full body portrait. Position yourself so that you’re shooting from an angle that doesn’t accidentally give the appearance of an amputated body part.

Also, keep shooting even if you think you already have the shot, especially if the dog’s tail is wagging or her ears are moving. Some of those frames may just look better than the one you already took!


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

You may notice the reflection of two catch lights in Sammy’s eyes, a clue to the two-light setup used. You can even tell that umbrellas were used from the circular shape of the catch lights! If you ever wonder how a certain studio-style photo was set up, just find the subject’s eyes — you’ll be amazed at how much they tell you!

Artistic details in dog photography

Photos of your little furry Monkey don’t necessarily have to include his mug at all. If he has adorable spindly legs, try to get a shot that capitalizes on exactly that! You can even add in a human model for comparison.


27mm, 1/160 sec., f/9.0, 160

These artistic details are more about composition than anything else. In this example, the legs take up about two thirds of the frame, but the photographer left enough negative space (areas in the photo void of the subject) to balance out the shot.

Get creative with your cropping when you go for those artistic details!