So you want to make some nice pictures at a dog show, but you’re not sure how.
You don’t have professional equipment like the dog show photographer, and besides you don’t really want to be the dog show photographer. That’s really hard work. (In fact, you SHOULD BE SUPPORTING your dog show photographer. But more of that later.)
So, here are a few things you can do to improve YOUR pictures. But first, turn off your flash!
Where’s the best position
to shoot movement?
There are several spots around the ring to make good pictures of a dog’s movement. I like to move around, but I do have favorite locations that I know produce pictures.
One is shooting the dog on the diagonal down and back. Stand ringside across from the diagonal. A corner can work well (see photo below). You’ll be able to make a good picture of the side movement of the dog from there. You can also see movement from a corner as the dog and handler move around the ring.
Capturing the gait: It’s key to a good photo
It’s important to find the right moment in the dog’s trot to capture. You’re looking for both a front leg and the opposite hind leg in the air during the trot. The front leg is reaching forward and the hind leg is driving the dog. “Reach and drive.” You either have to predict this moment or shoot a burst of photos to find one you like. Here are examples of the right moment and the wrong moment captured.
Making uncluttered tight pictures of the face
One of the great opportunities for tight shots is when the handlers stack the dogs for examination.
You want to be near that line up, but you want to be positioned so you can see their faces straight on.
This can give you a nice picture of the dog’s face or front. But you have to be quick and make that picture before the judge examines the dog.
You’re looking for a “clean” picture, meaning there should be a minimum of clutter.
And ALWAYS be aware of
what’s in the background
Keep an eye out for distracting backgrounds. It’s hard to find a clean background at a show.
When you are looking for a place to stand, look for what will be in the background of your pictures.
You don’t want to get home and see a lady in a neon green dress in the background of EVERY one of your photos.
BUT sometimes a distracting background can work in your favor. Here is an example of using a very distracting background as a graphic element in a picture.
The right place to shoot stacking photos
You can make stacking pictures from several locations. Here are two examples. I like to see stacking pictures where the handler is actively watching the judge. It shows intensity and engagement.
Stand out by catching those
special, candid moments
My favorite dog show pictures are the candid, unguarded moments that just happen.
They don’t need a lot of explanation. They happen inside the ring and outside the ring.
You will only capture them if the camera is in your hands, not in your backpack 😉 Be watching for them and be ready for them.
NOW, please support your
dog show photographer
In fact, time out for a little public service announcement. Dog show photographers work hard. Their work is tedious and time consuming. So, do what you can to support them by purchasing their pictures and avoid the temptation to sneak a snap of that official win picture. That’s their bread and butter.
OK, I’m off my soapbox now.