It is a sad but true fact that black dogs are likely to spend twice as long in rehoming centres than their lighter counterparts. Why? Partly due to superstition...think Winston Churchill’s metaphor for depression - his ‘black dog’ but also because of the difficulty of getting good pictures of black dogs that highlight their features.
As a dog photographer I meet many frustrated owners who are unable to capture satisfactory images of their beloved pooch, getting instead a ‘black blob’ with no distinguishing features.
Regardless of your equipment, you should be able to capture good images of your black dogs by following these simple rules:
1. Avoid bright sunlight...
It is counterintuitive to assume that an overcast day will produce the best images but the absence of harsh sunlight will be your friend in photographing any subject, let alone dark-furred animals. Bright sunlight casts shadows that are difficult to balance post-processing so if you absolutely have no choice, seek shade or consider using a fill-in flash. Get as close to the dog as possible so it fills more of the frame and use exposure compensation to adjust the balance.
2. Focus on the eyes
This is true for photographing any living being, but the eyes on black dogs are often it’s most beautiful and appealing features. Aim to capture the catchlight in the eyes by positioning the dog in front of a reflective surface or an illuminated object.
3. Create definition in the fur
This can be done in a number of ways, through soft lighting, using water to define the fur, or through using a complementary background...usually mid-spectrum colours such as red, blue, green or yellow.
4. Use a prop
Props such as balls, dummies or toys can help to complement large areas of blackness whilst helping to keep the dog occupied!!!
5. Photograph a clean dog!
Mud can disguise the silkiness and definition on dark or black fur which is one of of the key features you will hope to capture in your photography. In contrast, water can help define the coat on a curly or frizzy coated breed!
You will only improve through practice. For every successful image I have now, I have discarded many more. Hopefully the settings on Millie the Black lab below will help to give you an idea of where to start...I took her photo on a fairly bright September day...
7. Share your images!
Send me your images using the hashtag #mygorgeousblackdog to @poloimages or via my Facebook page @MBdogphotography to be in with a chance of winning a professional doggy photoshoot!!!
Black working cocker spaniel puppy