By Julie Austin
This is a time of year when many of you will be taking photographs of your senior dog(s) and I thought you might like a little advice from a pro so I asked award-winning photographer Julie Austin to give you some tips that might be helpful.
Julie has been a good friend to Old Dog Haven for many years and has taken hundreds of photographs of our dogs. Not only does Julie photograph ODH dogs, but she also photographs dogs from other rescues as well. Also, Julie’s photographs can often be seen on the cover of City Dog magazine, and her extraordinary photograph of ODH dog Solomon graces the cover of the book about Old Dog Haven: Old Dog Haven: Every Old Dog Has a Story to Tell.
Julie has been voted Evening Magazine’s “The Best of Western Washington” Best Pet Photographer five years in a row! 2012-2016. Results for 2017 will be announced November 6 and we’re hoping Julie wins again.
All of the photos of ODH dogs in this blog were taken by Julie. As you can see, she has an amazing eye, and we’re so happy to have her share her work with us as well as her tips for taking photographs.
Here’s what she has to say:
- “If you are struggling to get a photograph of your deaf and/or blind dog looking at the camera, it can help to use treats. I like to give the dog a few treats first, so that they know that there is food nearby. I recommend bringing a variety in case your pet is feeling picky. My favorite treat to use is Zuke’s Peanut Butter treats; they are small (so they can have as many as they want!), gluten free, and corn free. I also use squeaky toys a lot to get the dog’s attention. Obviously, if your dog is hard of hearing or deaf, this may not be route for you.
- “Get down on their level! Move around and photograph from different angles. You can also put the dog on a chair or couch to get them at eye level…as long as you don’t think they will jump off! Safety first.
- “Avoid using a flash. That can turn a dog’s eyes red (or green if they have cataracts). Natural light, preferably outdoors, is best.
- “Some folks think you need sunshine for photos. It’s fine as long as it’s not too bright (think a summer day at noon) but I prefer cloudy days. Thank goodness we have plenty of those here in the PNW!
- “Get into the picture! Have someone take over the camera to get photos of you and your pup. Even if you hate to have your picture taken, you’ll treasure the image of you with your beloved dog.
- “Take LOTS of pictures. For my typical three hour session I will take around 1,000 pictures, and approximately 50 of those are keepers. Of course, you don’t need to take that many!
- “Do you have a black dog? They are notoriously challenging to photograph. I suggest to keep them out of the sun. Photograph them in a shaded area, or on a cloudy day.
- “Your dog doesn’t always need to be in the center of the picture. It can be more interesting if the dog is off to the side.
- “I always suggest taking a painting or drawing class. Composition is a huge part of photography. But don’t worry if you don’t feel up to doing that!
- “Editing is part of my creative process. You can find inexpensive (or free) editing programs for your laptop and smart phone.
- “Take your time. Patience is key when photographing animals.
- “Have fun! If you feel like you’re getting frustrated, put the camera down and just spend some time snuggling with your pooch. We all know how easily they pick up on our moods.”
Julie Austin / Photographer
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Julie Austin Photography