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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

How Did You Get That Picture?

I'm often asked how I get such great pictures of my dogs, especially when I am taking a picture of all of them together in a group shot, like this one: 

There are a couple secrets I'll share with you.  

The first is that I teach a solid stay behavior to all of my dogs. I want them to be able to stay in any comfortable position when asked for as long as I need them to stay there.  It becomes my responsibility to be sure that I'm not asking my dogs to stay in a position or situation that is uncomfortable or unsafe for them.  
In the above picture, I know that the dogs that are up on top of the bales are comfortable with being on various surfaces and being up off the ground.  I also know they have great stays and are very unlikely to move.  This means I feel safe leaving them up on top of the bales while I move away to take pictures. 

The dog in the lower left is Vinny.  He is still a puppy and does not have a very solid stay yet.  When I took this picture, we had never worked on a stay in a brand new public place before, and he had never done a stay with me so far away from him or for so long.  Plus he was excited to be out with the other dogs and wanted to bounce around and play.  His leash is attached in case I needed to catch him quickly, but I tucked it behind him so it wouldn't show in the picture.  He did great because I took many breaks and went back to reward him for choosing to stay.  This made the photo shoot take longer, but left me and my dogs happier and helped Vinny be successful.

The dog in the lower right is Vegas.  He can't see very far away from him and he is deaf, so when I backed up to take the photo, he couldn't see me.  That meant he had no idea where I had gone.  I know that Vegas can get spooked and if I am not within his line of sight, he will bolt and run far and fast until I can catch up with him.  Vegas has a leash on and is tethered to the hay bale just in case.  He has a great stay, but I will not take a chance with my dogs' safety.  If you look closely, you can see his leash tethered, but it does not detract from the great picture.  

My second secret is to take a LOT of pictures!  I take way more pictures than I will need so that I'm able to go back and choose the best shots.  For this great picture, there were many others that I deleted with dogs looking this way or that way.  It is hard to get blind and deaf dogs to look at the camera on demand.  By taking lots of pictures from different angles, I then have lots of great pictures to choose from and can usually find one where they are looking in my direction at leash partially.  

I already alluded to the fact that I carry treats - I carry lots of toys and treats during my photo shoots.  I don't want my dogs to look bored in their pictures.  It has to be fun for them for me to get the great shots that I get.  The photos are for my enjoyment, so I do all I can to make the process for my dogs' enjoyment also.  I schedule plenty of time and take lots of breaks.  I know which of my dogs enjoy photo sessions and which ones get tired of them quickly.  I can choose which dog I photograph first and whether to do the group shot first thing or perhaps in the middle before certain dogs get tired.  

These are just a few of my favorites from out last photo session:  

Owen - paws up stay

Brinks - sit stay and wave paw

Treasure - sit stay

Vinny - sit stay with his own variation of sniffing the air for treats

Vegas - sit stay and his famous smile

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