10 Tips for Taking Better iPhone Pictures of Your Dog

You may have heard the saying "the best camera is the one you have with you."  Beautiful images are possible with any camera, and since our smartphones are usually within close reach, they are often the most practical for capturing the everyday images of our four-legged friends.  Enjoy these tips and happy shooting!

All photos shown on this page were taken in and around my home using my iPhone 5s, and have not been edited whatsoever.



1) Shortcut

Use the camera shortcut located on the lower right corner of your iPhone home screen.  Dogs can move fast, and that special moment might be over by the time you enter your passcode and tap through the apps to find the camera.  One quick swipe and your camera is ready!

2) Look Ma!  Two hands

Hold your iPhone with two hands if possible to reduce shaking and blur.  It also helps to use the volume up button as your shutter button.

3) Grid

Turn on the camera grid lines in Settings > Photos & Camera > Grid.  Why?  This will help you apply the rule of thirds, which is a popular photography composition technique where you imagine the image being divided into nine parts (like a tic tac toe board) and place the main subject where the lines intersect.  Photographs following the rule of thirds are typically more interesting to our eyes.

4) Zoom with your feet

Avoid using the zoom feature on your iPhone camera, as it results in compromised quality making the image grainy or pixelated.  Instead, simply walk closer to your subject!

5) Filter your filter usage

If you like to tweak your iPhone images, avoid Instagram filters.  They are not very flexible and will end up looking like everyone else's over-filtered images.  Instead, I like the Snapseed app for editing on the iPhone.


6) Just say no to flash

Using flash can make your dog looked washed out, cast a weird color, cause reflective eyes, or all of the above.  Flash can also distract or startle some dogs.  Instead, look for another light source (like a window) and turn the flash off.

In the photograph on the left, Mackenzie was annoyed by the flash - see her ears tucked back?  The flash also cast a yellow color on her fur and made her eyes downright scary!  By turning the flash off, she acted normally and the photograph turned out more natural and pleasing.

  with flash

with flash

  window light, no flash

window light, no flash


7) KISS

Keep it simple...  Look for uncluttered surroundings so that your dog remains the star of the show.  Sometimes it just takes repositioning yourself to get a cleaner picture. 

Below is Sophie in her favorite spot on the couch.  I snapped the first picture from the comfort of my recliner, but all the toys on the end table compete with Sophie for your attention.  By getting up from the recliner and taking a step closer, I was able to get a shot where Sophie is the main focus.

  cluttered

cluttered

  simplified

simplified


8) Get low

Chances are your dog is much shorter than you are.  Shooting down from your chest or eye level will result in an image that is kind of "meh," as in it's the same view that everyone else sees.  Now try getting low and shooting at your dog's eye level.  It will make for an interesting angle and show your dog's perspective of the world. 

There's actually nothing wrong with the bird's eye view - in fact, most of us love those puppy dog eyes gazing up at us!  Here Sadie was patiently sitting as I promised her a treat.  If you don't want to get as low as the ground, you can also photograph at your dog's eye level when they are on an elevated surface, like the couch or bed, or a step as shown here.

  bird's eye view

bird's eye view

  dog's eye level

dog's eye level


  burst mode

burst mode

9) Burst into action

Unfortunately the iPhone is not the best camera for action shots.  That said, try burst mode to help capture your pup's more active pursuits.  Simply hold down the shutter button to take multiple shots in succession - then you can choose the best one and delete the rest.  This technique works better outdoors with plenty of light.

Here is Sadie playing fetch in the backyard.  When using burst mode, it's especially important to hold your iPhone as steady as possible.

 

 


  details

details

 

 

10) All in the details

You don't always have to include your dog's entire body, or even the face!  Is there a unique feature that you really love about your dog?  Try focusing just on the tail or the paws or the collar - it's the little details that help tell the whole story.

I have always loved Mackenzie's short legs and dappled paws, pictured here.

 

 

 

 

 


Lastly, experiment and see what works for you.  It's your art, so you can break as many rules as you want!

Still not getting the results you're after? 

Contact me to learn how we can create stunning photographs of your furry family members.