Today is National Black Dog Day. Some studies show black dogs and cats are less likely to be adopted; some show this is not the case. Regardless, they are more challenging to photograph. Here are five tips to make it easier for you to get great photos of your black, four-legged kids.
Don’t photograph them in direct, overhead sunlight as your camera will have a hard time reading all the light in the scene. Usually what happens is your dog will be underexposed (looking like a black blob) while the exposure in the rest of your photo looks pretty good. Instead, put your dog in an evenly shaded, soft-lit area. Try to avoid spots that have bright light breaking through or areas of bright light behind them. Also, have your dog look in the direction of open sky. Looking in that direction puts great light in their eyes, helping them “pop” and stand out.
If you can, photograph them on cloudy days. Cloudy days have soft, diffuse, even light, which is really flattering to your dog and the scene. Your camera doesn’t have to figure out what to expose for, the scene or the dog, as they are all fairly evenly lit, so your exposure on both should be good.
Photograph them during the “golden hours,” about an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset. The sun is lower and the whole scene is less bright, plus the angle of the sun is more flattering. Have your dog face the sun, again to put light in her eyes.
Think about your background. Black dogs stand out really well against mid-tone colors such as reds, yellows, and mid-tone greens and blues. Avoid photographing them against darker colors as they will blend into the background. This includes areas of heavy shade. You also should avoid really light, bright tones, such as white. This is really contrasty, making it harder for your camera to figure out the correct exposure. While your dog will pop against these colors, the high contrast is less pleasing. When you look at the photo, you go back and forth between the dog and the background, not just settling on the star of the photo, your dog!
If you’re really serious about it, learn how to use off-camera lighting. You will get great photos of your dogs using the tips above, but using off-camera lighting is another way to really make black dogs shine (as it were). I use it for almost all my photos, no matter what color the dog or cat. It helps fill in shadows and separate them from the background and gives an extra pop to my photos.
Ellen Zangla Photography: Pet portraits with personality!
M.Photog., Certified Professional Photographer
Professional Photographers of America: 2018 Bronze Medal Photographer of the Year
My pets, one dog and four cats, are an integral part of my life. I absolutely adore them. Like other family members whom we love, I feel that it is incredibly important to have portraits of them that capture the essence of who they are, whether they’re regal or goofy (or both!) or somewhere in between. If you feel the same way about your dog, cat or other fur or scaled kid, here’s how you can learn more about a pet photoshoot with me works. Or feel free to contact me.
I am a pet photographer, specializing in photographs of pets and pets with their people. I serve all of Northern Virginia, including Loudoun, Fairfax, Leesburg, Ashburn, and Reston, as well the DC Metro area, and I would love to portraits of your pets that reflect how you feel about them and that you will treasure for a lifetime!