When you are asked to take photographs of families they will often want to include their pet dog, either with the main group or on its own. This means that you will find yourself in the unenviable position of trying to get shots of something that just wants to run around and play. Worse still dogs do not understand how to take direction and pose for you. How then do you take sharp, well focused, well lit shots of the families furry friend that they will want to buy afterwards?
The key is to accept that it will take time. This will stop you getting frustrated when the dog turns its head for the hundredth time just as you were about to press the shutter button. By taking your time the dog will get to know you and start to trust you. You could also make a couple of visits to build on this. Once the dog starts to trust you it will relax more and not run away when you point a camera at it.
Another technique is to talk with the family beforehand. Find out if there are any particular toys or treats it likes. Go out and get a supply, in case you need to resort to bribery to take the picture you want.
When it comes to the day of the shoot, the technique to apply is to keep shooting. Have a good supply of memory cards and batteries, so that you do not run out at the crucial moment. Have a couple of shot ideas prepared. The most common being the frame-filling portrait and one of the dog at play. Taking the frame-filling portrait will no doubt mean getting in close. Put the camera on AV (aperture priority) mode, so it will take care of the exposure. This way you just have to make sure you are focused and can watch the dog for the right expression. It is very important in this type of photo to get the catch lights in the eyes. This makes the dog alive and bright, with bags of personality in the final picture, endearing it more to the family and making them want to purchase it from you.
It can be very hard and make for a long day to get some decent photographs of the family dog. The key is perseverance and perhaps bribery. The more you practise the easier it will get and the more pictures you will sell.