Let’s See That Personality!

Janey doing a goofy head tilt. She's blind in her right eye, so it just kind of wandered off to the side in this picture. I wasn't so sure I liked this picture at first, but it grew on me.

Janey doing a goofy head tilt. She’s blind in her right eye, so it just kind of wandered off to the side in this picture. That, plus her tongue hanging out, makes her look really funny! I wasn’t so sure I liked this picture at first, but it grew on me.

I’d like to start this post by apologizing for not having posted in a little while, I’ve been overwhelmed with stuff going on at home. I’ll try to find time to write more often. (:

love the picture-perfect photographs as much as the next guy(gal)…but c’mon, don’t you ever get bored of your subjects looking perfect all the time?

When I’m photographing dogs, I usually shoot for two different types of pictures in the same photoshoot. Since most of my subjects are rescue dogs, of course I want to get the pictures where they look drop dead gorgeous, perfect, and amazing. I’m trying to get people’s attention, I want these photos to say “adopt me!” so I show them in the best possible light.

Tweed giving me his best smile.

Tweed giving me his best smile.

But what’s the fun in only having pictures like that? It gets old after a while. I also love to take pictures where the dog’s personality shines through. Some of my favorite pictures are the ones where the dog looks like it’s having a great time. A big smile, a head tilt, or maybe just a funny face. Anything besides the cut-and-paste, generic looking pictures.

My current foster boy, Tweed, is a great model for the camera. He gets this big goofy grin when the camera comes out; it never fails to make me laugh.

My personal dog, Nelly, is a bit more serious. She has always been an extremely driven working dog, and I swear when the camera comes out she just thinks that it’s another job for her to do. “Okay, there’s the camera. I know momma likes to take pictures of me, so I need to make sure I do my best modeling. Time to get serious about this.”

Katniss making a funny face while chewing on some grass.

Katniss making a funny face while chewing on some grass.

That oh-so-serious look often comes across as very beautiful, though, so it works well. If I want those pictures where she looks like a goof ball, it’s a bit of a challenge…but I guess that when it comes to photography, being challenged is a good thing!

Because I started off photographing dogs and because I work with them so often, they are generally the only thing I take pictures of. I am starting to branch out, though, and experiment with other types of photography. Landscape photos are something I’m interested in, but haven’t gotten around to learning about yet. Besides dogs, I’m also now doing a little work with people. It’s been all friends and family while I was learning.

My sister being funny, going along with the "old, abandoned barn" theme.

My sister spontaneously going along with the “old, abandoned barn” theme.

I have found that dogs are a lot easier to photograph than people, in some ways. On one hand, dogs don’t always want to listen or have their picture taken. Some dogs are afraid of the camera; I don’t know why, but I would assume it’s because the lens looks a bit like a giant eye staring them down. In my experience, a dog will either not want to look at or near the camera, or it simply won’t care either way. With dogs, you don’t have to worry about them doing some kind of horrible, cheesy-looking fake smile, you don’t need to worry about them being self-conscious in front of a camera, and best of all, you don’t need to worry about them not liking the pictures you take! All things that I, as a beginner people-photographer, worry about.

As you can tell, I worry. A lot. Probably too much.

A candid shot of my two best friends.

A candid shot of my two best friends.


Now, the bad part about photographing dogs. They don’t always like to listen very well. You can tell a person, “Okay, now let’s have you sit right over here…” and the person will go sit over there. You try to make a dog sit somewhere that it doesn’t want to and you’ll have about 5 seconds, at the very most, to snap that picture. If you’re working with a dog that doesn’t care about treats or toys then good luck trying to get it to cooperate at all! Last but not least, dogs can be really easily distracted. Sometimes the best places to do photoshoots are also the most interesting for the dog. So many trees! And grasses! And rocks! And smells! AND WAS THAT A SQUIRREL? Let’s look at everything except the camera!

Now, maybe it’s just because I’m not very good with people, but I definitely prefer working with dogs. It just feels right for me.

I think this post got a bit off topic, but oh well! My point is that while I do like the pictures where the subject looks perfect, like a model, I don’t think anything can top a picture where the subjects personality is showing through. It just seems to give the photos something special.

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One thought on “Let’s See That Personality!

  1. Hahaha! I totally agree! Dogs are waaaaay better subjects than people 😉 And I also go for the same thing when I’m photographing shelter dogs – I go for the main profile Petfinder pic the – look at me I’m gorgeous why the hell am I in a shelter pic and for Petfinder pics two and three I go for the, oh but I’m still a dog and here’s a ball and there’s a tree and holy crap look at my tongue hanging out as I’m galloping through the run, I’m so awesome, I love life, pic. I think you’re doing a great job with people, btw!

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