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The Perfect Puppy Pic

by Dave Veldman

 Tips from Sport Dog Photography 

It would seem that given all the extra time most people have found themselves with in 2020, taking on a puppy just sort of makes sense. You can be home with it, socialize it properly, and give it more attention than if you were otherwise at work. I say work, but we all know puppies are a lot of work, and can be exhausting. However, we spend our time building foundations for the future dog that they will become, and in the end it is worth it. Most of the puppy antics will be forgotten in a short while and all we will have are a few (hopefully good) memories and some images and video to go along with it. Everyone loves puppy pics. You see them everywhere. Especially if you are on social media. Politics may become background noise on your feeds, but you will pause on a puppy picture or video every time. Why? Because everyone appreciates the innocence and cute clumsiness of a puppy. It’s important to document these first few months of a dog’s life, as they pass by really quick and are over before you know it. Here are some tips for making sure you get scroll-stopping pics of your pup for your friends and family to enjoy.  The equipment you use doesn't matter,  just have fun shooting.

1. Get Low

As with any subject, the ideal camera height is at the eye level of your subject. When taking pictures of people this is generally not too hard to achieve. However, puppies are small, and you may have to put yourself flat on the ground or find other creative ways to get the camera lens at a puppy’s eye level. A word of caution, to a puppy, anything is a chew toy or lick-able object. This includes your camera lens. Be ready.

Yellow Labrador puppy posing between legs

TIP: Find a place where you can elevate the dog such as a small hill or on a deck or patio. This will save you from having to roll around on the ground too much.

2. Think Fast

English Setter Puppy in a Pyke Wingman Vest

Puppies move. Yes, they sleep too, but when they are active, they rarely want to stop and be a model. You will need to be prepared for the cuteness overload shot at a moments notice. Stay with the dog. Follow it closely and take shots along the way. You never know which one will turn out to be a great shot. The beautiful thing about digital photography is that you can delete (or not) the bad ones later. It can help to have a toy or something that makes attention getting noise. Everyone loves a good head-tilt puppy shot, and a high pitched squeak or click will always produce good results.  Your other option is to get the puppy into a place where they can't move around too much.  Again, distracting the dog will be a big help.

3. Wait Them Out

Puppies tire easily. They may play hard and fast, but they will fall asleep just as quick, and that can be the perfect time to take a few images. In fact, sleeping is a far better way to remember a puppy, than when your favorite shoes became a chew toy. Most often, you can also move and place them to just about anywhere, and they will continue to sleep unaffected by the commotion. This also gives you the opportunity to stage them with props and other situations that might be distracting to an awake puppy.

Chocolate Lab Puppy Sleeping for Portrait

One last tip. Don’t spend so much time worrying about getting puppy pics that you forget to just enjoy your puppy. Like I said earlier. They grow up fast and you need to take advantage of that developmental time as much as possible. Besides...there will be more.

Dave Veldman is the owner of Sport Dog Photography and an outdoor writer for conservation and hunting  ( https://www.sportdogphoto.com)

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