We can’t all be really really really ridiculously good looking in every photo, right? Alfie tries his best, but I’m always watching. There were a lot more outtakes, but I was pretty heavy handed with the black flag in Lightroom when I first got the z5. I’ve gotten a lot more appreciative of his goofy faces and honestly, sometimes they even have a little more ~interest~ than his regular face.
Sometimes our biggest struggle is to get him to look interested at all. The majority of our outtakes are usually just Alfie staring directly at the camera, waiting for me to give a command. Sometimes even our favorite high value treats won’t shake his thousand yard stare. I’ve got a couple of tips to help get more than a straight-forward stare out of your dog–I didn’t shoot Photo Booth photos at a doggy daycare for almost a decade for nothing!
Utilize a Tripod
It’s always great to have an extra set of hands when photographing dogs, but usually it’s just me and Alfie out there. I’ve had great luck setting my camera up on a tripod (I like the JOBY Gorilla Pod, the z5 is light enough that I can normally use a pretty small one that can be carried around easily) and using my phone as a remote shutter release. This set up lets me move around and direct Alfie’s focus to the best of my ability. I can even hold a fill flash if I desperately need it.
Find What Drives Your Dog
I’m a firm believer of a high rate of reward when it comes to photography time. Lucky for me, Alf has always been pretty food driven, but even he gets burnt out on hot dogs and fish filets. Some dogs respond much better to a toy, a specific sound or even a verbal cue you use out of context (Like asking if they’d like to “Go for a ride?” for that classic head tilt). There are millions of different stimuli you can use to get the dog’s attention.
Have I mentioned high value treats? It seems like common sense, but I’m always surprised at what people ask their dogs to do and how little they offer in return. We use everything from Stella and Chewy’s Wild Weenies (the Bacon recipe is our favorite!) to those packaged fish filets for cats. Vital Essentials also carries a great line of unique freeze dried proteins that are easy to keep in a treat pouch and can interest even the pickiest eater. Alf is currently obsessed with the chicken hearts at the moment.