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Post & Photo by Joe Farace – Follow Joe on Twitter

People love to take pictures of their kids and their pets. When it comes to dogs dressed up for Halloween, everybody wants to photograph other people’s dogs. If you’re wondering how I do this, here are a few tips, tools and techniques.

To start with you must like dogs. If you’re nervous and hyper, they’re more likely to freak out. They’re already dressed up in costumes, so most of them will be a little shy anyway. It’s your job to project an air of calm assertiveness that will make the dogs relax and help you get great pictures at the same time.

Keep a low-key demeanor. If you want to photograph people with their dogs it’s going to be harder than shooting dogs by themselves. Just like parents, they start primping the dog and asking him to look at the camera. This has the opposite effect and minimizes your chances of getting a good photo. Just as important to do is what not to do. I don’t use flash because it may cause red eye problems or change the look and texture of their coats plus it’s another distraction for the dog.

Wear your grungies. Don’t be afraid to get your clothes dirty. To get a great shoot you may have to get down on your knees or sit of the ground, so wear something you don’t mind getting a little grimy.

Bring lots of memory cards and lots of high capacity cards because the best shots are going to made after watching a dog for a while and making many exposures to get the right one. These shots are not just luck, they come from watching a subject that’s constantly looking around and when you’re lucky maybe at you.

Long lenses are a good idea. Don’t expect these pooches to come to you; use the right focal length to shoot them when and where they’re comfortable. This not only gives you space to photograph the dog without your presence being too distracting, but also produces less depth-of-field to soften a distracting background.

Focus on their eyes. Just like a portrait of people, keeping the dog’s eyes in focus creates a nice portrait and image stabilization lenses (or in-body stabilization) increase the odds of getting sharp photos. Unlike photographing fashion models on a runway, you never know where these pooches are going to move or what they will do!

Joe Farace is the author of “Studio Lighting Anywhere” the second book in a trilogy or glamour and portrait photography from Amherst Media. It’s available on


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