Does your dog suffer from ‘Squirrel syndrome’ when you are trying to get those perfect photos?
We all know the problem…we’ve spent the last few minutes trying to get our dog to sit in the perfect location with the best background for you to create that memorable photograph.
Think of that incredible view behind them or up on the best log in the forest. They’re sat still, looking at you the one minute and then ‘Squirrel’ they look off to the right/left, and then they dash off chasing the flighty little bird/rabbit/leaf/butterfly that has caught their attention.
Only some dogs have a perfect sit and stay in the real world. They’ve got a short attention span and would much prefer to enjoy the smells and excitement of exploring the world around them rather than staring at you and your camera/phone.
So here’s a quick tip for the perfect focus. You don’t need them to stay still for 5 minutes; it’s just a split second when the camera clicks for the shot. So think about combining their favourite treats and super exciting words or noises. Make sure to avoid the mad cross-eyed stare of a dog obsessed with that bit of chicken several feet from their nose; it’s not the most fabulous look!
Get them in the sit, tempt them with the treat for the stay, making sure to lower it in line with your camera, so they’re not looking up to the sky. Get your camera/phone ready for the shot and make the noise you guarantee will get those ears up. You ideally want a noise or word that stimulates and triggers eye contact but is not over-excited. Perhaps not ‘cats/squirrel’, which means they charge off again, but I’m sure you’ve got lots of words you know excites your dog just enough.
Mention their best doggy pal, going somewhere they love, a favourite toy, their human grandparents…whatever you know will stimulate the perfect look for the camera. Then fire off the shutter button and admire what you’ve created.
It’s okay if we have sudden movements, they move away, they look in the wrong direction or smell their butt now…you’ve got the shot.
Here are some examples of the engaging portraits this technique has helped me create with pet owners and their dogs.
An extra tip…
Use a second pair of hands as the treat holder so that you can concentrate on taking a photograph but make sure that you make the noise so that you have control of the moment when the shot is taken.
Of course, you could book a photo shoot with me, a full-time pet photographer, instead, where I can apply this and loads of other techniques so I can work my magic with the most easily distracted dogs, young or old.
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