I’m delighted to share with you a few tips and tricks that have helped me photograph Tilly and other black beauties. These tips can be applied to a simple phone camera, through to more equipped models such as DSLRs and mirror-less cameras. I am in no way, shape or form an expert, and if you have any extra pointers, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
Black dogs are infamous for being difficult to photograph. This is something I have struggled with, as my little dog Tilly is JET BLACK. Not the kind of glossy black you get with a labrador’s coat that reflects light back to the camera, her fur seems to have a magical way of absorbing light. In fact, Tilly’s beautiful shade of noir is the main reason I wanted to improve my photography.
1. Find a source of soft, even light. I have found midday sun is quite harsh which can make your photo subject appear flat and dark in contrast to brighter surroundings. There are a couple of ways to avoid this. Bring your dog into a shaded area, making sure your background isn’t too brightly lit. Shooting on cloudy days means your subject will be more evenly lit and your won’t have to worry too much about shadows.
2. Personality. Black dogs seem to have a reputation for being unfriendly and even dangerous…We all know this is codswallop, however I find a great way to bring personality to a photo is to capture a dog’s beautiful eyes. If your dog has a good stay command, an easy way to do this is to hold something enticing such as a ball or toy near to the camera. Try moving the ball around to reflect the light on your dog’s eyes, this is often called a ‘catch light’.
Shooting from above helps with dogs who have more fur. It allows fur to fall back away from the eyes. Plus it’s such an endearing angle!
3. A great time of day to shoot is the hour just before the sun sets. This is referred to as the golden hour. As sun is low in the sky… shadows are long, and light is much softer so easier to work with. A benefit of shooting with soft light is your dog is less likely to squint, meaning their eyes will be open and engaging for your photo. Much more flattering!
Black dogs are perfect for silhouettes! This is something I really should do more often as I love the way it looks. This is easiest to achieve with the sun behind your subject during the golden hour at dawn or dusk.
4. Go outside. If your house isn’t especially well lit (like ours) then you may find indoor shots of your pooch turn out like a black blob. For me, an easy fix was to go where the light was, plus Tilly is at her happiest when exploring, and this can help you capture candid precious moments.
I hope you found this useful, thanks for reading! Do you have any tips for photographing black dogs? I’d love to know.
Amy & Tilly