I get asked “who took your photo?” quite frequently. I’m usually on the edge of a mountaintop in the middle of nowhere, so the answer ninety percent of the time is- ME!
I’ve been traveling with my German Shepard, Monty, for 3 years and have been able to snap some of my favorite memories with him. When you’re a solo traveler and your only companion is a furry side-kick, getting those travel photos with your dog can be challenging.
Dogs like to have a mind of their own at times and don’t want to always cooperate. Luckily Monty’s experienced now to the point where he naturally poses with me. But it took us time to get there. So I’m going to share with you my (not so) secret tips so you can too!
Dog Photography Tips Before You Go
Train Basic Commands
If your dog knows the basic commands like sit and stay, you’re already off to a good start. If not, I’d work on perfecting them. This will help greatly when it comes time to posing them for the photo.
There may be times when you have to pose your dog then run back to the camera to set the timer, then run back to pose with them. You don’t want them following you or breaking the pose.
Or maybe you want them to be laying down, giving you a hug, or shaking your hand during the shot. The process will go a lot smoother if they can obey to commands right away.
Having an idea of what you’re trying to capture could help smooth out the process ahead of time. One of my favorite places to look for inspiration is Pinterest.
It’s another major search engine that allows you to search your topic and save the pins to your own organized boards. This is nice because you can easily go back at any time for reference!
Just remember that not everything goes as planned when it comes to photographing dogs, especially when they have a mind of their own. So don’t be disappointed if things don’t work out exactly as you imagined.
Tools for Taking Photos With Your Dog
Use a Tripod
My tripod was a GAME CHANGER…I don’t know what I would have done without it at times. Having your own tripod allows you to set up your camera just about anywhere without relying on someone else.
On a rocky mountain side? No problem. Nothing to prop your phone up on? Now you have something. Don’t want your phone to be sitting in the sand? It can sit 60″ above the sand!
There are several different types of tripods so you’ll have to decide what it is you’ll want out of it. I love my tripod because it sits almost as tall as me, has every movable function that I need, and it is easily transportable and light weight.
Get a Remote
A small Bluetooth remote is another handy tool. I usually switch off between using a self timer and a remote, or I pair the two together. The only trick with this is making sure it doesn’t look like you’re using one!
You can naturally cup it in your hand, put it in your pocket, or hide your hand as you’re putting your arm around your dog. If you pair it with the self timer it’ll buy you time to hide the remote.
You can find inexpensive ones that will pair with your phone. If you plan on using a professional camera however, you’ll need to first see if it has Bluetooth and then research compatible remotes.
Use the Timer
I had 3 seconds to get into place for this photo using my tripod and camera self timer. Surprisingly it ended up being one of my favorite photos of us while watching the sunset in North Carolina!
Although Monty isn’t looking at the camera, this was as good as it was going to get because he was watching people across the street, so I settled for it and later fell in love with it.
Most cameras have a self timer, especially your phone camera, and it will become your best friend. I use it all of the time!
Give Training Treats
We all need a little motivation at times, am I right? I’m sure most dogs would agree. Training treats are a great way to train using positive reinforcement…as well as help you get them in place for your travel photo.
It is also a great way to get their attention because usually they’ll scarf it down, then look at you for more and CLICK, you take the shot.
How to Take Travel Photos with Your Dog
Get On Their Level
I like to change up poses when taking photos with my dog especially since I stand taller than he does. So sometimes I’ll crouch, kneel, or sit at his level.
It is also easier to keep them in pose when you are at their eye level. Sometimes it can be challenging to get your dog to look at the camera or at you, so that is when I’ll just gaze off in the general direction that he is and it looks more natural.
Like I mentioned before, when it comes to photography with dogs they don’t always cooperate. Sometimes it is best to go with the flow and do what they’re doing.
One of my favorite tricks is to be active in the photos. It not only keeps your dog occupied but you end up having way more fun! Running photos are my favorite way to take travel photos with a dog.
When taking a running photo I either ask a friend or stranger around to snap a bunch of photos as we run away and on the way back. If I’m alone I put the camera on a timer or even burst mode so it still snaps 10 photos. Usually one of these always ends up working out!
Walk To/From The Camera
Another way to keep your dog’s attention and staying active is to either walk towards or away from the camera. This is a great way to create a natural, in the moment feeling.
When Monty and I were at Canyons of the Ancients, I used my tripod and Bluetooth remote to snap photos of us as we walked towards the ruins. Just like with running, one of the million photos you snap will end up worthy!
Put Something Yummy on Your Lips
Kissing photos are a great way to take cute photos with your dog, and another personal favorite of mine. Somehow the bond you’ve created just ends up shining through.
If your dog is a big kisser you shouldn’t have a problem with this one. But if they don’t like giving kisses you can try putting something delicious on your lips to entice them.
Take Cute Selfies with Your Dog
Sometimes it is nice to switch things up and take a selfie of you and your pup. Trust me, you won’t always feel like taking out and setting up a tripod.
I feel like this really portrays your bond and lets the joy of both of you shine through. When taking selfies with my dog, Monty, I usually use portrait mode on my phone to give it better quality.
Lift Them or Hold Them!
Holding your dog can make for a cute travel photo! If you have a small dog it should be easy to hold them up, and if you have a large dog it can be done if they’ll let you. I’m a big fan of having your back to the camera while your dog is looking over your shoulder at it.
Monty doesn’t like to be lifted up and I stopped trying to photograph it because he looked grouchy in every photo! So we ended up compromising on giving hugs.
Ask a Stranger
From my experience, other travelers are more than willing to take your photo if you ask them. I have no shame when in public places to ask (and return) a favor. Like the one above from Arches National Park.
When having a stranger take your photo it is always good to put the shot into frame for them and kindly coach them on what you’d like. Everyone has their own style when it comes to photography.
Final Thoughts on How to Take Photos With Your Dog
Practice, Practice, Practice!
You will get better over time as you learn your personal style of travel photos. Just remember to be patient with your dog and have fun with it! These are suppose to be happy memories that’ll last a lifetime.
How do you take your travel photos with your dog? Share in the comments!