Dog Photo Shoot
One of the most fun elements of my job is the dog photo shoot. Happy Wordless Wednesday, by the way (thanks BlogPaws peeps!). Wordless Wednesday gives me a great excuse to do a dog photo shoot, then edit and create. Today I’m just going to walk you through what that looks like for me.
First, I reach out to people I know with dogs. Typically via Facebook messenger, I’ll ask if they’re available in the near future, tell them what treats I have to cover for the month. Dee, at Jones Natural Chews, and I determine in advance which treats I’ll be giving away each month. She sends me a box of treats. Okay, so that part is first. THEN I reach out to friends with dogs.
But I don’t like using the same dogs over and over. So often I’ll put the call out to Facebook friends in general. Anyone out there have friends with dogs? My friends rock, and I’ve met all kinds of new people this way. Yes, I show up at a stranger’s home armed with a bag of treats and my Canon Rebel, ready to snap photos of their dogs. It’s awesome.
Next is the hard part of the dog photo shoot. The dogs. One, I’m not a professional photographer. We’re not in a studio. I don’t have an assistant. I DON’T HAVE AN ASSISTANT. That part is important. When it’s my own dogs, I know what to do to make them sit and stay. Jones Natural Chews can get them to do pretty much anything. And I know which dogs photograph best and where. Strangers’ dogs? Not so much. And I have little control over location and lighting. I’ve been learning as I go along. Sometimes I even have an impromptu photo shoot when I’m responding to a Craigslist ad and the person has a dog. ALWAYS CARRY JONES NATURAL CHEWS. It pays off.
So what do I do about wiggling dogs and bad light? Because let me tell you, almost every dog I encounter will take the treat and walk away from me, back turned. They don’t know me. It might be a trick. I might want it back. That Jones treat is premium, and they’re not giving it back, by jove. I’ve even had dogs growl and snap while I try to take their picture. Not that I blame them. Our treats are just that good, and the poor dog doesn’t know me from a hole in the ground.
My Lovely Assistant
Here’s where I’ve learned to utilize my lovely assistant for a dog photo shoot with strangers. The owner. I’m slow, okay? It took me awhile to figure this out. I was nervous about having people in the photos, that they wouldn’t want to be on the blog, but just their dog. Now I just ask – Can you give the dog the treat while I take the photo? Lots of nervous energy is diffused this way. And I get some great shots. One of my favorites is of Kato Jack and his mama.
Bonus – the owner of the dog knows the commands, knows the best places in the house or yard for photos. They know their dog. Like I said – I’m slow.
Yes, let’s talk lighting. Like I said, I’m not a pro. I’ve asked around a lot. And because I just show up to people’s homes, walking into an unknown, for me, I’ve had to be creative. Ideally I’d like to be outside, but the weather doesn’t always cooperate. And the lighting in some people’s homes? Oh my word. People. Turn on your lights. Buy some lights. Even then, the lighting often turns photos yellow and brown. Even with natural light.
So I asked around and a friend told me I needed a low F stop lens. A low light lens. She was right. It was about a hundred bucks, but probably one of my best blogging investments. I can’t focus the lens, and I have to take photos from a distance, but it captures the best pictures and gives me the best light.
I also get blurry photos. Plenty of them. To combat that, I use the sports setting on my camera. It captures photos of wiggling dogs that I wouldn’t get otherwise. The sports setting changes the film speed, essentially. I love it.
Once upon a time I used PhotoShop to edit my photos. I never really understood it, but I used it. Ideally, I’d use it all the time, but I no longer have it. So I use PicMonkey. It’s a life saver. I autocorrect first thing, but don’t always like it, so sometimes reverse it. Sometimes I use the Comic theme for the speech bubbles. But typically I use PicMonkey just to bring my photos down to manageable size for use on the blog.
And I think that’s it. Nothing is ever as simple as point and click, is it? But I’m a pretty simple girl, so I tried to keep this simple. Please let me know if I left something out, if there’s something you do differently which would streamline things for me, or if you’re near Tulsa and have a dog which needs Auntie Flea to bring it treats!
Spreading the good chews …