10 Tips for Capturing Candid Moments of Dogs in Action
As a dog photographer, there's nothing quite as rewarding as capturing candid moments of our furry friends in their element. Dogs are naturally expressive creatures, and catching them in action can lead to some of the most captivating and heartwarming photographs. Whether they're running, playing fetch, or just being their goofy selves, candid shots can truly showcase their personality and spirit. In this blog post, we'll explore ten essential tips to help you master the art of capturing those spontaneous and delightful moments of dogs in action.
1. Know Your Subject
Understanding the behaviour and energy levels of different dogs is crucial for successful candid photography. Some breeds and individuals might be more playful and active, while others are calmer and reserved. Speaking to the owners and spending time with the dogs will give you insights into their typical behaviours, making it easier to anticipate their actions and reactions during a shoot.
2. Use Burst Mode
Dogs are incredibly fast, and their actions can be rapidly changing. To increase your chances of capturing the perfect moment, set your camera to burst mode. This feature allows you to take multiple shots in rapid succession, ensuring you have a range of images to choose from, increasing the likelihood of getting that perfect candid shot.
3. Get Down to Their Level
Candid shots work best when you can establish a connection with your subject. Kneel or lie down to get eye-level with the dog. This perspective not only creates an emotional connection but also adds a sense of intimacy to the photograph, making it more engaging for viewers. But be aware- many dogs will run straight up to you - slobbery kisses incoming!
4. Anticipate the Action
Being prepared and anticipating the dog's movements can make a significant difference in capturing the perfect candid shot. Keep your finger on the shutter button and be ready to click at a moment's notice. Being quick on the draw will help you freeze those split-second actions that would otherwise be missed. Consider setting up back button focus if available on your camera.
5. Use Fast Shutter Speeds
To avoid motion blur and ensure sharp images, opt for a fast shutter speed. Dogs are dynamic creatures, and freezing their motion is essential for capturing those fleeting moments with clarity. A shutter speed around 1/1000th of a second or faster is recommended, depending on the dog's activity level and lighting conditions.
6. Capture the Eyes
A dog's eyes are windows to their soul. When photographing dogs in action, try to focus on their eyes to draw attention to their emotions and expressions. Sharp, well-lit eyes can add depth and emotional impact to your candid shots.
7. Leverage Natural Light
Natural light can enhance the authenticity of your candid shots. Whenever possible, shoot outdoors during the golden hours (early morning or late afternoon) when the sunlight is soft and warm. Avoid harsh midday sun, as it can create unflattering shadows and cause dogs to squint. Overcast days out in the open are also great especially when practicing action shots. The clouds act as a giant diffuser, so your camera has a lot of light to work with without harsh contrast on your subject.
8. Use Continuous Autofocus
Enabling continuous autofocus on your camera will help you maintain focus on a moving subject. This feature is particularly handy when dogs are running or playing, allowing you to keep them sharp and clear throughout their action. When it comes to focus areas try out different options. Depending on the situation I use spot focus or wide.
9. Incorporate the Surroundings
Candid shots of dogs in action can tell a story, and incorporating the environment can add depth and context to your photographs. Use leading lines, interesting backgrounds, or elements that complement the dog's activity to create a more visually appealing composition. Dogs in water are my favourite!
10. Patience is Key
Candid photography requires patience and a willingness to wait for the right moment. Dogs may take some time to warm up to the camera or get comfortable in their surroundings. Stay patient, observe their behaviour, and be ready to click when the magic happens. Repeat actions and make sure the dog and owner are comfortable at all times. It is completely normal to not get every shot in focus. While the capabilities of your camera of course play a role, you will see your hit rate increase the more you practice.
Capturing candid moments of dogs in action can be a delightful and rewarding experience for both you and your audience. By understanding your subjects, anticipating their actions, and using the right camera settings, you can freeze those spontaneous, heartwarming moments that reflect the true essence of these lovable creatures. Remember, it's the candid shots that often become the most cherished and timeless memories for dog owners. So, grab your camera, head outdoors, and let the dogs inspire your creativity! Happy shooting!