I have been hearing the same sentence over and over which has prompted me to write a blog post outlining how we run our sessions and how we overcome this problem.
The sentence, "I would love photos but Daisy, Tom, Bob, Alfie, (yes I really do hear this a lot) won't sit still".
Well I'm so pleased to tell you this isn't a problem!!!
There aren't many dogs out there who do like to sit still when taken to the beach or park, they like to run around, have a sniff and generally just be a dog. The second most common thing I hear is that the dog is camera shy, well believe it or not my dog Poppy who features on my page almost weekly still turns her head away the moment the camera comes out, she also doesn't like to sit still when we're out and about, I get the look...the one that says "Mum really are you serious, nope not doing it, go away! I just want to go over here and sniff ok!"
Poppy having a restThis image is an example of using the long lens to capture a moment, I asked Poppy to sit she was looking unhappy so I moved away with the long lens and let her be. Minutes later I was able to capture the image I had in mind.
So how do we overcome this? Well it all starts from the moment you contact me to talk about photos, I like to find out as much information as I can about you and your dog and what sort of photos you're after. I've put together a little list of things that are so helpful for us to know before a session.
1. Your dog's personality - is he/she shy, timid, jumpy, very excitable, weary of new people, does he/she get on with other dogs.
2. Is your dog able to follow basic commands - come, sit, stay
3. Is your dog able too be off lead? If not in many circumstances the lead can be removed in post production.
4. Do you want to be in the photos, this is completely fine, a lot of people like some photos of their dog alone and some with the dog, this isn't a problem.
5. Is their a particular style you are after or a particular shot that you really want, be sure to let me know and I will be sure to capture this moment!
6. Is your dog motivated by food? e.g. can we use treats to help to get them looking at the camera
7. If not food perhaps toys? Or a stick, if there is something in particular that they respond well to sometimes bringing this along to the session can help.
8. Are there any special props you would like to bring along? For example a special bed/blanket or toy/teddy bear etc.
9. Keywords - these are words your dog responds to e.g. dinner, walk etc
Ok so we've had a great chat about you and your dog and I now have plenty of information which will allow me to work out the best way to approach your session. What next...session time!
I like to take a few minutes at the start of the session to quietly meet your dog and allow them to have a run and check out the location, this allows them time to settle in and get the initial excitement over and done with. For very shy dogs, I stand back and wait for them to come to me. During this time I will have a long lens on which allows me to capture some candid shots of your dog just being them. These shots are often the best for really showing your dog's personality. Once we feel comfortable and they start to settle we can then move into some more posed shots, this is where you can be a great help to me. It's really great if you can stay calm and relaxed so your dog feels relaxed, they pick up very quickly if we get flustered or upset. This is where we can use treats/toys etc to assist with getting your dog looking at the camera. I usually do several play/candid then posed. That way I find we get a good variety of shots and your dog doesn't become bored and uncomfortable. I will also keep an eye on his/her body language and if I see signs of stress, panting, looking uncomfortable etc we will move on with something else for a bit and allow them to take a break. Perhaps just a few pats some reassurance and a treat or two. If your dog is very camera shy or just won't sit still well that's ok, we can just go for a walk in a place which is familiar a beach you like to walk at or the local park. I can keep my long lens on and capture images as we move along. They usually relax this way and often don't even know they are being photographed!
Poppy listening to a dog at the parkPoppy was sitting having a rest during a recent session when her attention was caught by a dog playing at the park nearby. I was able to capture this candid moment and just love the expression.
Well I really hope this has helped answer a few questions and put your mind at ease, if I've missed anything please let me know and I'd be happy to help.