Your Pet Business’ Guide to Outdoor Photos
Dogs and the outdoors go together like campfires and s’mores. Dogs smile wider, run a little faster, and jump a little higher when they are under the warm sun with their favorite people. Outdoor lifestyle photos are one of my favorite things in the world because there’s just so much pure joy in them.
Check out my top five secrets to making outdoor photoshoots so awesome…
1. THINK ABOUT THE LIGHT
Amazing lighting is what makes a photo feel ooey-gooey, warm, inviting, and just dripping with gotta-have-it goodness. It can also make a photo feel cold, uneasy, and stand-offish. What you want to avoid at all costs, though, is poor lighting, which can make a photo feel very blah, unemotional, or flat like a snapshot.
Light is the magic behind every great photograph.
While you can create all sorts of light at any time of day with auxiliary lighting setups, Mother Nature gives us two times every day to get the most spectacular natural light. The hour around sunrise and the hour around sunset are two absolutely perfect times to capture sparkles, sun flares, and warm, delicious moments.
If you absolutely must shoot mid-day, it’s doable but you’ll need to choose locations that won’t create harsh shadows, or you’ll need to plan to add in some extra light. This is where an overcast day would come in really handy, too.
2. CHOOSE LOCATIONS THAT FIT YOUR BRAND AESTHETIC
When it comes to commercial photo shoots, there are few things as important as location choice.
Your location needs a style that represents your brand and the feeling you want consumers to get. It also needs to offer an ample variety of backgrounds so you get the absolute most out of the shoot.
For super outdoorsy-adventurous places, I like to look for locations with trees that the light will sparkle through, interesting rocks, bridges, fences, open spaces to run, wide vistas, tall grasses, or creeks. Rustic buildings can also add great texture and backgrounds. Look for areas that can be shot from multiple angles for different looks.
Sometimes outdoors just means a backyard, though! What then? Variety is still key. Look for places that perhaps have a patio, green grass, and a well-designed side yard or front yard. The more areas you have to shoot, the more valuable that location will be to you in the long run.
3. CAST THE PERFECT DOGS
Choose dogs who match the location, the product you’re selling, and who will truly enjoy the activities they’ll be participating in at the shoot. Be sure they have the training to perform those behaviors quickly and reliably.
Think closely about the dogs who are going to get reactions from consumers and allow them to see themselves in that exact place and time.
If you’re doing a shoot for a brand new collar and leash for adventure dogs high atop a mountain, a small Yorkie probably wouldn’t be the best choice. A medium-sized, trim and fit Labrador would be perfect, though!
Be sure to grab my exclusive PDF on the top five elements for choosing the perfect dog models right here.
4. MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS
At a photoshoot, the photographer and the products we’re working with need to be the most interesting thing to our dog models. That means we need to minimize distractions. Public locations that are crowded on weekends are often much quieter on the weekdays, making that the perfect time to shoot.
The fewer distractions our dog models have at the photoshoot, the quicker we can get the shots we need and maximize the variety in your images.
5. KEEP IT LEGIT
One of Westway’s core principles is to be honest and respectful — always. When it comes to commercial shoots, this is even more important. So many things had to come together to get us to this very moment, and the last thing we want to do is put it in jeopardy.
Many outdoor locations that are free for personal use require special permits or licenses for commercial work — and it’s important to have them.
When you’re renting private spaces or getting permits for city or county locations, be honest about what you’re doing. Let people know you’re going to be photographing for commercial use, that you’ll have dogs, what you’ll be shooting, and that you’ll respect all laws about where dogs can and can’t be.
In the middle of one of my sunrise photo shoots, two park rangers approached us asking to see our permit. I showed them the paperwork, they were pleasantly surprised to see we were legit, and allowed us to continue our shoot in peace. My client was on-site for the shoot and said, “you saved the day with that permit!”