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Photographing Fido: Dog Tips & Tricks from an Expert

Have you ever tried to photograph your dog and catch his or her true essence? That one picture that really sums up the true character of who they are? Haven’t we all?

Joe Frasciello did and turned it into a life’s passion. He shares with FIDO Friendly magazine  how he got started, what he does, and how you, too, can take doggone awesome photos of the Fido(s) in your life.

FIDO Friendly: How did you get started in the dog photography business?

Joe Frasciello: I started photographing dogs to give as gifts for friends and clients. What started out as good intentions has turned into a life’s passion. Photographing pets looks easier than it actually is, but if you’ve been at it for 15 or so years you’ll figure out what works and what doesn’t.

FF: Do you find dogs easy to photograph? Our FIDO Friendly fans can relate to wanting the perfect shot and maybe getting a blurred end result or a quick moving dog.

Joe F: Dogs are the easiest subjects to photograph as long as they are paid handsomely with treats pats and praise. Cats are a whole other subject, but I find them much easier to work with if you get them at the right moment.

FF: What advice can an experienced dog photographer like you give to FIDO Friendly readers if they want to take awesome dog photos?

Joe F: Most dogs will only give you a small window of their time to any one subject unless, of course, it’s a ball loving dog who will spend an eternity chasing and fetching their favorite tennis ball until they collapse at your feet still looking at you to throw the ball just one last time. But for most dogs,  time is never ending. It only begins anew every 20 minutes or so.

FF: You’ve taken amazing pictures of my dog, Dexter, at a NYC Bark for Life American Cancer Society event. In fact, they’ve become my favorites. What advice can you give to our readers?

Joe F: Begin your shoot where your dog is most comfortable, especiallyat home or a favorite park. Try to keep your surroundings free of distraction, especially people and other animals. Outdoors works best because of its light.

FF: Are there better times to shoot?

Joe F: Absolutely.  The best times to shoot are very early morning or right before sundown. This lighting tends to be just right and makes for some very magical images.

FF: What about shutters, lenses, and more technical aspects?

Joe F: If shooting with a digital point and shoot camera, you will be limited to the speed of your shutter and lens. With patience and time, you can overcome this handicap by practicing your timing down as to when to actually hit the shutter.

FF: So many times, our dogs won’t calm down. They see the camera and run, look at it, or maybe aren’t interested at all. Then what?

Joe F: Exercising or going for a long walk prior to will relax your subject and make for a much easier shoot. Waiting for your dog to lie down or sit naturally is best but you can always ask them sit or lie down. Try not to force them into this action, as it can change the energy of the dog if they are “forced into submission.” Once the dog is relaxed, position yourself at their level.

FF: That is such a good point, Joe. Those eye level shots you take are phenomenal.

Joe F: Thanks! Most photographs you see of pets are usually taken from above and never really captures the subject as it would if it were a person at eye level. If holding your dog’s attention for any one moment becomes difficult, try using their favorite treats. Allow them one or two treats before holding one back right above to the camera. Once the dog is looking right at the lens take your photograph.

FF: I’ve seen that trick used in person when you photographed my dog.

Joe F: Another way to capture your dog’s attention is to use a squeaky toy or sound that may be foreign to them. This will usually get the endearing head tilt that makes most of us sigh. Always aim for the eye. Keeping the eyes in focus is a must for a great photograph. The eyes capture the soul and show the true nature and beauty of the dog.

FF: What if it doesn’t go right? How can we get better?

Joe F: Don’t be dismayed if you aren’t getting the look your shooting for. The great thing about shooting digital versus film is that you are not limited to the amount of photographs you can take. The photographs you take today will be nowhere near as good as the ones you will take tomorrow. So start taking photographs.

A strong supporter for animal adoption, Joe continues to share his talents and photographic services to help benefit dog shelters and animal welfare groups in New York, New Jersey and Chicago. He is available for commercial and private sessions and can be reached at frazzzz@mac.com. See more of Joe’s work in the gallery below and by visiting his website, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joseph-Frazz-Photography/114981261894705.

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