Ten Tips for Catching Your Dog on Camera

Is your dog ready to go viral? Help show him off to the world—either in a YouTube video or a photo contest—with these photography tips. 

1. Train your dog.

Everyone has seen those great videos of Border Collies herding, catching Frisbees, and doing tricks like dancing, drawing, and loading laundry in the dryer. Amazing tricks are fun to watch, but even if your dog has a limited repertoire, such commands as sit and stay can help you keep any dog in the frame, and looking cute.

 

2. Train your eye.

Professional cinematographers can look through the lens and see what they are getting. For a novice, it’s important to practice. That develops the ability to see exactly what is being recorded and understand how such variables as lighting and backgrounds can make a difference.

 

3. Choose the right camera.

Think about what kinds of events you are hoping to record. A zoom lens will make agility trials and other sporting events easier to capture. Also don’t forget about audio. A microphone attachment may be a good investment if you want more than background noise.

 

4. Let the moment happen.

Who can forget those beautiful videos of returning soldiers being reunited with their dogs? In situations like these, it’s just best to start filming and keep the camera running. You can shorten or edit later. Don’t try to stage everything. You won’t get those magical moments.

 

5. Have great, but realistic, expectations.

For every movie hero dog on the big screen, there are six or seven canine doubles, and often each will have a different talent. It takes a lot of skill and people to make it all look that good. It may not be an epic, but a simple activity can yield some entertaining videos, such as what happens when this Mastiff meets an ice-cream cone.

 

6. Allow some sniff time.

If you are shooting in an unfamiliar place, give the dog as much time as possible to get used to the new environment. Even the most stable and serene dog may become tense in new surroundings. Others might find the camera intimidating. It’s probably a good idea to allow your canine subjects to take a close look and a sniff at that weird gadget before you start to film.

 

7. Get a dog’s-eye view.

This means, skip the tripod and get down and dirty. Many people stand, aiming three or more feet below eye level, and end up seeing mostly the top of the dog’s head. Things are more interesting down on the dog’s level.

 

8. Recruit helpers.

It’s difficult to handle a camera and a dog at the same time, and impossible if you are hoping to record an event. Designate a friend or family member as videographer, and make sure in advance that he knows how to use the camera.

 

9. Visualize.

Before you pick up the camera, think about what you want to achieve. Having a mental image of the memories you’d like to preserve will help you direct the lens.

 

10. Have fun.

If you’re tense, your dog will be, too. Be relaxed and enjoy the process. And if things don’t work out exactly as you’d planned, remember that everyone loves a blooper.