Wildebeest's Guide to Dog Photography
Between wagging tails, park distractions, and having to constantly restock on treats, there’s no doubt that dog photography isn’t easy. We’re always amazed at the pups we see on Instagram, and more amazed at the pawrents’ dedication to their craft.
In order to learn more about the dog photography process, we decided to consult with the humans behind our Ambassadog accounts. We asked them about everything from training to equipment to how in the world they get their pups to stay still. Read on to learn their dog photography tricks & treats!
On managing dog personalities & keeping pups patient:
“Dog parks are nice because the dogs are off-leash and can act more natural. A squeaky tennis ball almost always works to get the attention of a dog the first time they hear it. For those who do not respond to the squeaker, a quick up and down hand motion or a food incentive is helpful.” — @seattledoggos
“I used to hold one of [Otis’} tennis balls in my free hand that wasn’t holding the camera and keep the ball right next to the lens to get him to focus. Otis, like most dogs, like to work to receive a reward or praise. Another tip is to try using freeze-dried liver treats as motivation during photo shoots. I’ve never, and I truly mean never, met a dog who doesn’t love those!” — @otisbarkington
On maintaining focus & getting the perfect pose:
“There are definitely times where our surroundings are a little too distracting so sometimes, I let [Delilah] get some curiosity out and try again in a little bit or sometimes if I get in her face with a treat, she’ll refocus. I’ll be honest, sometimes I can really get a good reaction from her when I say “Do you want to go to the park?” But I swear I’m not lying to her!” — @heytheredelilahthedog
“[Otis] was definitely food motivated in the beginning. A few good beef liver treats and constant encouragement was the key! Otis has always had a great engaging connection with us, so eventually, when I ran out of treats during a photo session, he kept his eyes on me and held his poses with no problem. He’s pretty talented!” — @otisbarkington
On deciding on equipment & editing:
“My DSLR is faster than my iPhone, thus more reliable when taking pictures of wild and energetic dogs. I only use my iPhone when I am out and about and happen to run into a cute dog. That being said, recent iPhone models (and the equivalent smartphone) take very high-quality images, so they are good for someone who happens to have one and is experimenting with photography. Although I am looking to upgrade, I am currently photographing with my dad’s 12-year-old Nikon which can still produce decent images. They lack the impressive specifications, but older DSLRs are also significantly cheaper than recent camera and iPhone models, making them another option for a beginner.” — @seattledoggos
“The aesthetic of Delilah’s Instagram is something that I work really hard to keep consistent. I use primarily gpresets (https://www.gpresets.com) for Lightroom and occasionally will bring a photo into Photoshop if it needs some extra attention. Maintaining the color palette has been very difficult to achieve even when using the same presets. I’ve learned that my photos often have to be taken during similar parts of the day where the light is soft because my editing reacts differently to harsh light versus soft light.” — @heytheredelilahthedog
On training for prop photography:
“Always make sure to keep the priority of making your dog(s) comfortable. Never put them in a situation where they feel stressed or anxious, and always be encouraging and patient with them. Start off small! Otis used to be able to only balance my beanies on his head, then one day he worked up to balancing some of my empty lens glasses. He’ll do anything for treats and some belly rubs.” — @otisbarkington
On managing a dog’s IG:
“Something I was unprepared for was just how much time this account would take to manage...I feel like I’m running a full-time side gig. For those starting out, decide how serious you want to be about this before you get into it. I had no idea what I was doing and what this account would turn in to. If you want to make it a serious account, be prepared for how much time you will need to invest in it. I’ve been very lucky to make some awesome friends through this account, but it comes with a lot of dedication and genuine engagement. Lastly, manage the account and take the photos for you, not for the likes. I see so many people constantly worrying about how one post didn’t get as many likes and comments as another. That shouldn’t be what matters. You’re doing this because you love your pet and you want to share that with anyone who wants to see.“ — @heytheredelilahthedog
A special thanks to @heytheredelilahthedog (pawrent @briannawollard), @otisbarkington, and @seattledoggos for taking the time to talk! Curious about how your own pup could become a Wildebeest Ambassadog? We’ve got a page for that!