Dogs are man’s best friend. I love dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, ferrets… I just love animals. There’s something fascinating about each and every one in their individual way.

I’ve learnt that photographing animals can be a tricky task. They don’t smile for the camera like a person. That’s part of the appeal. The thing you’re trying to capture is the personality of the animal, the situation, the emotion, the thoughts.

Yes, a dog may answer commands like sit, stay, fetch… but the second a camera comes out… that goes out the window in most cases.

Some are fascinated and like to get right up close to the camera, have a sniff, maybe a lick. Others don’t really know what to make of it and can be quite nervous, especially when something moves or makes a sound, such as the autofocus motor, the flash or the shutter.

Like with many types of photography, the perfect moment can come and go in an instant. With animals it’s no different. You have to be quick otherwise you may miss out on that winning shot!


here are a few recommendations I have when photographing animals and pets. These are just a few things i’ve learnt from going out there and taking pictures. It’s all trial and error until you get a result your happy with.

A freshly loaded memory card

I always recommend that you have a enough storage so you have enough space to shoot away without having to think about running out of storage space.

Wide Aperture

Using a wide aperture can help to remove the focus form unnecessary and distracting objects in the background. This will bring the viewers’ eyes in on the subject, in this case the dog.

Focus modes

Choose your focus mode carefully. I like to use continuous focus mode as it allows me to concentrate on getting the composition right and helps prevent blurry, out of focus shots.

Shooting mode

In this situation I tend to choose continuous shooting modes. This allows you to continuously fire the shutter so you can capture all of the small movements your subject may make. Some people will call this the “spray and prey” method and will proffer to have much a much more precise approach to releasing the shutter.

Shutter speed

Remember your shutter speed. If your subject is moving you will need to use a faster shutter speed. You can reduce the shutter speed by panning your subject which creates a really cool effect.

Get on their level

I see this as a great technique for capturing really great pet portraits. I’ve found that obscure angles can also create an extra depth to a photo and also help accentuate the characteristics and personality of the animal being photographed.

The most important thing to remember is have fun! Photographing pets has brought me nothing but joy because animals are awesome!

Here are the photos

Oscar the Border Collie

These photos are of my dog Oscar. He’s an overactive, giddy, loveable border collie with a lot of spirit.

This was the first opportunity I had at photographing a dog and so I was in for a surprise. I did a little research first for some guidance on things to watch out for, settings to use/try so I was a little prepared. The results were varied. Many of the shots where blurry due to Oscar moving around and being in a low lit room and a slow shutter speed and low ISO. bumping the ISO up would have made a massive difference here.

Oscar the Border Collie
Oscar the Border Collie sitting pretty for the camera
Oscar the Border Collie
Oscar looking right into the camera
Oscar the Border Collie
Oscar sniffing the camera lens

Oscar and Maisie the Jack Russell

These next shots are of Oscar and Maisie. We were all out in the garden on a nice and sunny day.

Maisie is a ridiculously small jack russell who is incredibly gentle and loves generally lazing around in the day and running around in the park at walk times. She may be small but she has a lot of character and can be really funny. We noticed that she was quite frequently lying upside down and when the opportunity arose I thought it would be the best way to reflect Maisie and the kind of dog she is. This shot really captures her personality well.

Maisie the Jack Russell upside down
Maisie loves being upside down
Maisie sunbathing on a bench
Maisie sunbathing on a bench

I couldn’t forget about Oscar… he wasn’t having any of that. After some playing with his ball for a bit I had him completely focused and fixated on it. This was a great opportunity to capture him in a deep trance, waiting for the ball to be thrown again, watching its every movement closely.

Oscar waiting for his ball
Oscar waiting for his ball

Del Boy the Border Collie

These next shots are of Del Boy (Definitely a unique pet name) the border collie. He was only a pup at the time. He really wasn’t sure to make of the Nikon D3200 I was using at the time. He clearly hadn’t seen anything like it before and was wary of it, especially when the autofocus moved or the shutter released. I eventually coaxed him closer to be by playing with the camera strap which he seemed to like chewing on.

Del boy the Border Collie Puppy
Chewing the strap kept him still for a while
Del boy the Border Collie Puppy
He really liked chewing that strap!
Del boy the Border Collie Puppy
A different angle created a completely different effect
Del boy the Border Collie Puppy
Del boy lying in the shade


This next photo has to be my favourite photo of my buddy Oscar. It’s one of the best photos I have taken to date. It really captures the kind of dog he is; Incredibly gentle and loving and truly mine and my wife’s best friend.

Oscar the Border Collie
An amazing shot of Oscar playing in the garden (plus some bokeh)

The new addition, Stanley the Jack Russell

Stan… Where to start… he’s a little sod! Full of character though and rarely sits still.

These shots are of when he was a few months old. I have to admit he was really funny looking, kind of like an alien or a bug because he had massive eyes, a really tiny head and was really podgy. At this stage he was just started to grow into his personality so these photos are nice because he looks well behaved and almost angelic.

Stan the Jack Russell as a puppy
Stan the Jack Russell when he was just a puppy

He’s much older now and we’ve had many trips to the park to play with his other dog friends. These next photos where captured over months of trial and error, trying to capture moving subjects that are pretty unpredictable at times. There is also an appearance from Rio, a Golden Retriever and Rusty, another Jack Russell.

Stan the Jack Russell with his ball
Stan with his ball
Stan the Jack Russell curious
Here he is curiously walking towards me
Stan the Jack Russell
This shot really works well in black and white and having less distractions
Stan the Jack Russell stalking walk
Stan stalking something out of shot
Stan the Jack Russell focused
He doesn’t always listen but here he is completely focused on his ball
Maisie & Stan the Jack Russells
Maisie looking focused and curious
Rio the Golden Retriever
Rio is a big softy Golden Retriever
Rusty the Jack Russell
Rusty is just as playful as Stan
Stan the Jack Russell chewing a stick
This also works well in black and white and focused on Stan chewing his stick
Stan, Rusty & Maisie playing
Stan, Rusty & Maisie playing
Stan & Rusty playing
A cropped shot of Stan & Rusty playing

This next shot is of Pixel who is an Australian Kelpie which is an Australian sheep dog. They are primarily bread as a working dog to work livestock including cattle, sheep and goats. We were having a BBQ and there where loads of distractions but Pixel behaved like a champ. This shot captures Pixel’s beautiful red coat glistening in the sun and for me captures how majestic animals can be.

Pixel the Kelpie
Lovely soft focus background, focusing on the subject

So, there you have it! These are some of the dogs I’ve photographed to date. You can check out more of my photos on my flickr profile.

What next?

Check out some of my work!

I'm constantly working on new and exciting projects. Check out my web design and development portfolio with write-ups on how each project was conducted. Looking for some great photography? Check out my latest photography articles or browse the whole colection. Finally, I love to write. I write about everything from the web and photography to many other subjects that interest me.