How do I get photos of a dog who runs away and refuses to “cooperate”?

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How do I get photos of a dog who ignores me? I loved this question from my newsletter request a few weeks ago!

Oh my – do I know how this goes. My dogs laugh at me as I chase them and try and get photos of them… and this was for candid shots. I really am not a fan of “sit and pose” shots – but you may have figured that out by now.
Basically the dogs would see a treat and immediately crowd me, so I could not get a shot, or they would see my camera or phone come up, and immediately walk away. They knew I was just going to tease them with the treat to get a photo… and they wanted nothing to do with it.

Occasionally it’s as if my photographer brain shuts off if it’s my own canines (most child photographers with kids will probably identify with this, as well 🙂 ). So here are my top ways to get an animal to interact with you – and things I have to remember myself.

  1. Throw the ball
    Or stick, or toy, or whatever… what matters is to have them run further from you so that they run towards you. The key is to be able to hold the camera up and shoot while simultaneously throwing. Easier said than done, obviously!
  2. Bring someone else along to play with them.
    You could have another person that they trust and enjoy having around come over and play with them. Having the person stand directly behind you and calling them works – as does having them play towards you, so the friend eventually ends up behind you.
  3. Hold a treat up.
    You’ll need a wide angle lens for this, but it works to get great snout shots. Just make sure you wipe off your lens afterwards ;).
  4. Ignore them and shoot other things.
    Don’t make a big deal. They feed off of you. If you can, shoot without even putting the camera up to your eye. You can engage their interest with out that scary thing up to your eye…

The biggest thing to remember for a successful session with your own pups – don’t shout “look over here” constantly. They will get confused, tire out, and lose interest. Keep shooting and playing without giving them constant direction. You’ll get much better shots that way. It also keeps the cursing to a minimum ;).

Hope these tips help – let me know how they work for you!

Taking photos of dogs who ignore you

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1 Comment

1 Comment on How do I get photos of a dog who runs away and refuses to “cooperate”?

  1. Dayn
    October 31, 2014 at 5:45 am (3 years ago)

    Hannah, I agree completely with everything you’ve said. The same is also true for horses. They’re easier to photograph in a large field than a small paddock — your approach can be from further away, and they slowly meander over to investigate.

    For both subjects, a zoom lens is absolutely essential. Cell phone cameras work, certainly more than they used to. Personally, I prefer a travel lens (or mid-range zoom) that includes the 55-75mm range, rather than a telephoto that only goes from 75mm to 200 or 300mm. An 18-55 lens is OK, but there’s only so much post-process cropping that can be done. My current lens is an 18-200mm Tamron, and I’ll probably end up replacing it with a similarly ranged lens in the next couple years.

    The other thing I might add that many people don’t consider is the sheer number of shots that go straight into the garbage. I believe the ratio is about 100:1 for getting a ‘killer’ shot. Makes it harder to get those awesome shots on a cell phone, unless you’re planning on spending a good deal of time flipping between photos on your phone, or hooking it up to a computer.