I thought I would share a few tips from a recent shoot I did of the most amazing dog called Dudley. Dudley is a seven and a half stone Hovawart. This breed originates from Germany.
Black dogs and a contrasting backdrop
On our first outing with Dudley to Wilverley Plain, New Forest, it was quite early in the morning so the light wasn't very good and it was a very dull grey day. So in order to get some definition of Dudley's fur and achieve a good separation of the background we placed Dudley where there was a contrasting backdrop. This enabled him to stand out more rather than to blend in with the backdrop. Always have a good scout around before starting to take images.
Even on a dull day there is always directional light. Try to place your dog so the light is in their eyes making catch lights. This makes a huge difference to the end result. Eyes that look lifeless give such a dull image. Plus your dog can end up looking like a black blob!
Wilverley Plain, New Forest - our great location
Black dogs and catchlights
To get a great perspective I always lay on the floor to take the images. I go ready with over trousers and a large black coat. Getting down low makes all the difference. It is worth getting muddy for!
Black dogs and good light
As the light had been so bad on our first outing, I suggested we did another trip so we could at least have that image of Dudley in his favourite place with a blue sky! We were looking for the perfect shot. Waiting paid off as we eventually had a beautiful blue sky even though it was still only February. The next task was to get Dudley to not only stay in one place but to look straight at the camera! Normally I will take squeaky toys with me or I will make funny noises but Dudley was having none of this! Eventually a passer by came through with their dog and Dudley was all ears! It was absolutely perfect, the shot we wanted. Patience is so needed when photographing animals. If you wait long enough you will succeed.
I always ask the owner to be close to their dog and then I will photoshop them out afterwards. Then they can be at hand to get them to stay and listen to them. If it is a dog that won't stay still at all and we are after that portrait of them being still, I will ask the owner to keep their dog on a lead and then photoshop the owner and the lead out afterwards.
This was a very special shoot with a very special dog and I am so chuffed that we managed to produce some images that the owner absolutely loves.