Four Bouvier des Flandres. Leo (demonstrating tip #5), Lulu, Clover, Rosie
“Complicated” always means imagination, props, hats and location; it does not mean technical know-how. I have a really good camera with expensive lenses and a tripod, but I probably take more pictures with my iPhone. I’m not a good photographer, but I am good at capturing moments.
Here are a few tips for capturing your own moments.
Take pictures. All the time. It’s easy to carry around a camera these days; now you have to remind yourself to use it. If something makes you laugh, say awwww or brings a tear to your eye…take a picture.
If the focus of your shot is breathing, you’ll more than likely disrupt the moment if you move to take the perfect picture. Stay put and crop later. You can also try different angles with your camera…above your head, to the side, tilted.
3. Dress up:
The best dress-up outfits are homemade. The clothes they sell for animals are often expensive and never fit correctly. This may sound odd, but I’ve found that while most pups do not like to play dress up, they tolerate it better if the costume suits them. Rascal loves to be pretty; she is not fond of wearing a pig’s nose or rabbit ears. So consider your pup’s personality before you put him or her in a tutu or a raincoat and booties.
I have placed pups in flower pots (flower pup—get it?) and in a large bathtub filled with bubbles (my mother was out…). Look around you and see what cool props are available. Cowboy boots, a large stuffed animal, cooking pans, hats, headbands, jewelry, nightgowns, t-shirts, ties, raincoats, vests, bath towels, sweatshirts, shorts, boxers, thongs…you get the idea.
5. Just take the picture, k?
If your pup doesn’t want to sit, a picture is not the time to make sitting an issue; if your pup immediately flattens his ears when you point the camera, consider a prop that covers his ears. Arrow, I’m firmly convinced, was in the witness protection program; every time I would try to take his picture, he would go into attack mode. He never tried to bite me, but he would snarl and growl at the camera. Arrow’s picture went on a “most wanted” poster.
6. Be ready:
After you’re all set up is not the time to decide you need to go to the bathroom, are dying of thirst, or (God forbid) discover the battery on your camera is low. I usually take pictures after my pups have gone potty, but right before I serve a meal. A little hunger is good.
7. Technique: Do what works and do it quickly. (Caught in a moment..there was fraction of a second before they took off again)
8. Helpers: “Mom, you can’t want me to keep him on the couch and stay out of the picture at the same time” Cole between clinched teeth.
Cole is my primary helper during more complicated photo shoots. Recent instruction from me, as recounted by Cole, went something like this….
Cole, stand behind me and squeak the pig. (Pause.) Darn it, Cole. You know better than to squeak the pig that loud.
Needless to say, it takes a lot of promises to coax Cole (yes, my son—not one of the pups) out from under the bed when I decide we are going to have a photo shoot. I’m a lot nicer to non-family members so when possible I ask Vickie, our friend and camp helper, to be my wrangler when I want to capture a picture of a pup or a turtle in a tutu.
9. Rewards: While I was writing this blog post, Rascal insisted on showing you one kind of acceptable treat. If you have any questions, she is happy to answer them for you. The label is hard to read: Deli Fresh Turkey.
My pups don’t work for free—and I’m not talking about a dry Milk Bone. When I take pictures, I reward with the good stuff. If your pup is not food driven, use a favorite toy or ball. I have a special squeaky chicken and pink pig that I only share during picture time. Reward quietly and just enough to keep them interested during the photo op. After you call it a wrap, bring on the excitement and offer a bonus for a job well done.
10: Tools of the trade: Cole gave me this stapler…a little hostile humor perhaps.
Scotch tape, a stapler (good for threatening, “If you don’t keep that hat on your head”… Just kidding!!!), scarves, colored chalk, duct tape, noisemakers, small cut-up treats, laser pointer, feather duster, toys, Wet Ones, clear lip gloss, Vaseline, a bell. I’m not going to tell you how to use each of these tools, but if you take enough pictures you’ll use every single one.
11. Impromptu: This picture is not of a sleeping pup with a hat on his head..but this pug perfect picture was very impromptu
The next time your pup is sleeping, toss a hat onto his head, make an unexpected noise—and be ready with the camera. After you take the picture, quickly offer him a reward. This is a great way to teach your pup… the click of the camera leads to all good things.
It’s a wrap! I hope these tips help you capture some FUN moments with your precious furs. . .Oh, wait..did I mention these tips work for kids….too?
Odd Loves Company,