Professional Dog Portrait Photography - A Messy Business


Every photo session has its moments of imperfection but that is part of the fun and challenge of being a dog portrait photographer. Here’s a short glossary of common working conditions.

Slobber. There’s always lots of licking and kisses and my lens has seen countless snouts, closer than my focus can handle. My camera bag has been slobbered on so many times that my dog doesn’t even notice anymore when I come home - she used to go mad from the smells I brought back with me.

Mud. Getting muddy is a given as I often lay down to get my favourite angle and let’s face it, it rains a lot here. I wear my brown trousers as a uniform and I forget that I am covered in mud until I’m on a crowded tube train with people who are dressed for the office.

Photobombing. Working in public places, especially dog parks, means there is no limit to the number of passing canines that can’t contain their natural curiosity and sense of play. I am an obvious point of interest, lying on the ground, looking through my lens and giving my full attention to the dog I am photographing. Most of the time I don’t even see them coming. And often, there’s a group of them.

Ball-face. If you have a dog with an unhealthy obsession for balls, you’ll know this face. Let’s just say it’s not the happy, thoughtful or relaxed face that makes a lovely timeless portrait. Yes, we need to motivate the dogs during the session, it may be treats or toys or balls, but these tools must be used wisely. And whatever it may be, it’s only fair that we give it to the dog in the end!

General disregard for the art of photography. They’re dogs. They don’t respect my craft. They don’t know where the good light is or why I chose that lens or that the pale leaves on the branch behind them are making an amazing painterly backdrop. They want to have fun and play with me and please the people in their lives - and get treats. And they do.

These are some of the things that make me laugh and love what I do. Working as a professional dog portrait photographer isn’t exactly glamorous but I look forward to every session. Aside from my photography gear and weather appropriate attire, I always bring an abundance of patience, a big sense of humour and a true love of dogs.

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