Puppy conformation photos

I cannot tell the number of puppy photos I have done over the last 15 years. A bunch. There are tricks to make them work, some people are able to mold puppies with their hands and then some puppies just fall square.

Lets start with just the basic lighting and camera stuff. Doesn’t have to be fancy, but, photography is the same whether you are using a phone or a professional DSLR setup. Light matters

I am going to start with lighting. Make sure the light BEHIND the puppy is lower than the light hitting it. If you are setting them up with the sun behind, nothing is going to come out right.

Do not do mid day sun in the middle of the sunshine. Too much light. I generally find a spot of open shade or if I have to be in the house, an uncluttered area. Tons of clutter will take away from the puppies you are showing.

Another thing, what you wear. Do not wear loud prints, the same color as the puppy or anything that won’t make a good backdrop. Plain colored bright shirt is usually the best. I had on a tank top once and someone commented on my cleavage. Irritating but I learned that lesson….

This is why I don’t use food, it ruins the whole topline. This photo is almost 14 years old, so, cut me a break on it. This is the worst photo I have of my own as I have 1) gotten much better at this over the last 15 years and 2) I likely deleted all the crap that was bad


In contrast, a 4 week old puppy in my backyard. She is being supported under the chin and at the rear so you can really see how they look

Pearlie Mae

Here is an older puppy and she is on a show lead as she is old enough to hold herself up. Off in front of her, there is someone making noise, tossing toys. That helps to get the puppy arched over itself.

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Make sure to have the camera about level with the table. Generally I sit on a lawn chair and the puppies are stacked on the grooming table. That is about the right height

Also, Make sure to have zoomed in. Do not be right on top of the puppy or you will get distortion, so back up, zoom in. I think the biggest things I see are people either too close or shooting down on the dog. Its a big no.

I often have toys or cookies on the table, so I can throw them to get the puppy over themselves. I never feed them on to get them to stand. That always messes up the topline. This was fine, but, I am sure a split second later she would have been not set up

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Here is an example of brighter behind the puppy. Notice the puppy is underexposed. had I moved the table out into the yard, that would have fixed the issue

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Food is being used here, but, not to pull the puppies neck up like a giraffe. Also notice how much better the lighting is. The puppy is a few weeks younger in this photo

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So, in short, lighting, camera angle, and being zoomed in are most important. Having someone to work the camera and having someone to stack the puppy are most important. If you have to do them alone, put the camera/phone on a tripod and either have a remote, or video. I will add to them as I think of things!

Here is a solution when it is just you and no one else. Set the camera up on a table or tripod and video. Then just pull stills off it.