How to Take Exceptional Outdoor Photos of your dog


Hi, Hello, and welcome back to another dog photography tips post!

Last time we talked about taking exception photos of your Dogs indoors. Today we are going to discuss taking exceptional photos of your pups, outdoors.

So, enough from me, let's get straight to it. Below you will find 6 tips and corresponding images for taking exceptional photos of your dogs, outdoors. Enjoy! (Psst! Make sure to read through to the end for a special discount code.)

Soft sunlight

  • Shoot in a shaded area or at a time when the sun is not directly overhead. If you are going to be outdoors, it is better to either photograph during hours of the day when the sun is not in full blast, between the hours of 11AM-4PM. If you cannot avoid this timeframe, then it is also ideal to be a softly shaded area, underneath a tree or awning of sorts. IDeally, outdoor photos are best captured using softer light during the morning, or during the oh so coveted Golden Hour. If you do end up in the shade, during the middle of the day, this can be ideal lighting since you will still get the sunlight without it harshly blasting out the highlights and overpowering your image. It may sound backwards, but shooting outdoors on a cloudy day is ideal for me. Now, I am not talking about going out and getting images right before a thunderstorm hits, but if the skies are grey and a little bit moody, then you may just find that the softer sunlight will provide you with the ideal outdoor lighting. The image below was taken at a park, around 6:30/7PM, underneath a tree. There was still plenty of light out, but it was not harsh because the sun was preparing to set, and the dogs were both underneath a tree, which provide softer lighting in the shade.
Lindy and Samba sit under a tree

Large aperture

  • For those of you shooting on a DSLR or Mirrorless camera (I use a Sony A7III), there are two main settings to consider when shooting anything: Aperture and Shutter Speed. When I shoot outside, I use a higher aperture. Which, ironically, is one of the smaller numbers in your settings. Using a high aperture will help give you a soft bokeh-ish like background. This can be helpful to capture the colors of the background you have in mind, meanwhile also preventing your background from becoming too distracting or cluttered. Never fear, if you do not shoot with a DSLR or full frame camera, the aperture is typically automated and works well. The image below is a good example of a very large aperture on an image shot towards sunset. You can see a clear glittering bokeh in the background, and while if you search for them the trees in the background can be recognizable, they are more so soft and aesthetically pleasing than anything else. They do not distract or detract for the dogs, which are the subject of this image.
Lindy and Samba sit together underneath a tree

Burst mode/Fast shutter speed

  • If at all possible on your camera (or phone), switch your shutter to burst mode. With a higher aperture (smaller number), and a faster shutter speed (larger number i.e. 1200s/1.4a), you’ve found the ideal combination for capturing your pup in motion. An outdoor environment can provide for a lot of distractions. Burst mode allows you to capture plenty of images so that later you can sort through which may or may not work for your purposes. Personally, I’ve found that some of my favorite shots are motion shots of the pups. For instance, the image below shows Lindy walking towards the camera, with a very high shutter speed (this was shot over 1000), I was able to safely capture that movement without any blur. Of course, this is not only due to the high shutter speed, but also the well-light space, and the high aperture.
Lindy walks towards the camera

Treats! Toys!

  • Outdoor environments, depending on where you end up going, can provide extra distractions for your pups. Having their favorite treats to keep their attention or to help them stay in a position are great ways to help them stay focused, and help you stay calm. Even having their favorite squeaky ball or toy may help them focus on you. Remember, this can also help your dog have more fun while taking photos with you as well. Samba is an easy photo model so long as we have plenty of treats to provide for him as “payment” for his best behavior. Look at that face! Don’t you think that deserves a treat? I sure do.
Samba smiles at the camera with his tongue hanging out

Focus on your Dog’s eyes

  1. As has been previously mentioned, while shooting outdoors is a great option to capture fun, well-light action shots of your dog, it can also provide for plenty of distractions. These can be distractions for your pup, but also for your camera. It is important to check, double-check, and triple check your camera’s focus settings when shooting outside. There is nothing worse than getting home to find out that your camera has focused on a tree behind your pup, or the patch of grass four feet in front of them for every single shot! Below is an image where it is clear that the focus of the camera is set for the dog’s face. The below image is a good example of settings that are directly focused on the dog’s face. In fact, we could do better next time by making sure that the focus is set to Lindy’s eyes and not just her nose.
Lindy smiles wildly at the camera

Consider your colors when editing

  1. Depending on the time of day and the type of environment in which you take photos, your colors can play a huge part in your editing process. If you’ve just taken images at a rather green park, consider that your editing may provide for very punchy and bright Greens. Or if you’ve just experienced some beautiful Fall weather, make sure to highlight the reds and oranges in your shot.  While most of the images from this shoot are warmer because of the oranges in the bandana and the fall foliage in the trees, below you can see that the colors were edited to be much cooler because the green in the grass and the trees in the background were very apparent. This was done on purpose!
Lindy sits on a hill looking off towards her right

All of these tips can be taken in stride, or not. You will know what will work best for you and your pups, but hopefully you are able to take away a few helpful tips form this post. I cannot wait to see what type of images you come up with on your next outdoor shoot! Go and take exceptional outdoor photos of your dogs!



Bandanas in this post:

Lindy & Samba: Seasoned Plaid

Use code: OutdoorPhotos for 20% off your bandana purchase!

Thanks for reading,


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