Tibetan Mastiffs
Gold Line


Favorite Links

Captain taken from patio doorI am always surprised at how much people struggle to get a decent photo of their dog. I am comforted by the fact that I have wonderful photos to reflect back on that showcases each stage of every one of my dogs lives. From puppy to senior they are preserved forever. A photo captures, keeps and treasures details long after your mind has forgotten them.

I know that dogs and especially puppies are not always the easiest subjects to capture but a good photograph is not an impossible task. With a little time and a little patience you will be rewarded with photos you can be proud of.

I think the one thing that most people might not understand is the sheer number of photos that you typically have to take in order to come away with those special pictures. You literally have to take 100's of photos to get a handful of really great shots. Thankfully with the widespread use of digital cameras this is no problem at all. If you take 100 pictures and end up with 5 great shots then you can simply delete the remaining 95!

It does not take a great deal of time to click off 100 shots either. One 20 minute session spent hanging out in the yard with your dog can easily yield 100 photographs. I am NOT a professional by any means, I am an amateur through and through but I think I can share some tips that will help most anyone come away with a better result.

  1. Captain on planterWATCH for times when your dog might be posing naturally or looking particularly regal or adorable. Spend some time in the yard with them where they can relax enough to go about their business. Then just watch for something worth photographing.

    Captain loves to stand on the top of a wooden planter on the deck and after watching him do it often enough I began leaving the camera by the patio door in order to catch him in a handsome pose. As a matter of fact I purposely leave the camera somewhere near the patio door in case I want to step out and take some quick shots.
  2. Action shots RARELY make a good photo. They are usually blurry and or make the dog look awkward & unflattering. If you can catch them “gaiting” or trotting beautifully across the yard that may be a winning shot but wrestling, tug of war and other such activities are TYPICALLY too difficult to capture with any real success. But doesn't hurt to try.
  3. Asia enjoying the flowers
  4. You will typically have better results outside rather than inside simply because the flash on almost all standard cameras will cause the glowing “pet eyes” that will ruin a picture faster than you can say “CLICK”. Plus the grass and trees are just a naturally beautiful backdrop for your Tibetan Mastiff.

    When I spotted Asia lying in the daffodils I ran out in my socks to capture this photo.  I took at least 15-20 shots of her lying in the flowers and came away with a few great ones. I never caught her doing this again and the daffodils soon quit blooming so I am glad I rushed out in my socks that day!
  5. Katie in bright sunlight
  6. Consider taking your photos on slightly overcast or cloudy days. Bright sunlight will cast harsh shadows on your subject. I get my best photos on overcast days, in the early morning or later in the day when the sun is at a lower angle and is not casting such a glare.

    You can see with this photo of Katie that half of her face is lost in the shadow cast by the direct sunlight and the other half of her is overexposed.  Solid black dogs are notoriously difficult to photograph and bright sunlight makes this even more of a challenge.
  7. Leo taken lying on the floor
  8. Get down to your dogs’ level!! Nothing screams lazy like a picture shot from a standing position showing the top of your dogs head. Crouch, kneel, or lay down, whatever it takes! This is crucial when photographing puppies. You are NOT going to get a wonderful shot from a standing position unless they are up on a table or deck. I will often literally lie down on my belly to photograph the puppies and I am not disappointed by the results.

    In this picture of "D" litter puppy Leo, I am on my belly on the kitchen floor in order to capture this shot. Our kitchen gets a ton of natural light so a flash was not necessary. Also as you can see, he is unaffected by the camera because he had been having his picture taken since birth ha!
  9. Angus close upGET CLOSER!! Did you ever notice when someone readies themselves to take a photo they always back up several feet? Don’t back up! Fill the whole frame with your subject unless the background is something you are purposely trying to include in the photo. You don’t want to be on top of the subject so as to distort the photograph but close enough so that your subject takes up most or the entire frame.

    In this picture of Angus I not only moved in close but you can also see that the absence of direct sunlight allows you to see all of the detail of a black dog.

  10. Shoot often but don’t shoot just ANYTHING. You cannot expect to walk out into the yard, snap five random photographs and come away with five perfect photos. I cannot stress enough how it will pay off for you if you take NUMEROUS photo!Sydney chilling out This does not have to be time consuming; 15-20 minutes of straight picture taking will most likely yield SOMETHING. But more importantly wait for your dog to do something worth photographing. Wait for them to sit or lie down and look off into the distance. Wait for them to jump up on the picnic table and survey their surroundings. WAIT WAIT WAIT for something that will make a potential outstanding photo. If you are just shooting him walking with his head down or chewing on a stick then you are likely to get mediocre photos. If he is not cooperating on this day then try again the next. Take several pictures a week and you are sure to come away with something worth putting in your scrapbook. The more often you photograph your dog the more comfortable he (and you!) will become with the camera. My dogs rarely even blink when I am photographing them. The camera is something they see so often it doesn't even register a response. Drago on wooden planterEven when I do not have my camera I find that I am constantly framing them in my mind. If I see one of them pose pretty or cock their head I imagine snapping the photo in my head. Then when I have my camera I watch for the same behavior, stance or position and try to capture it on “film”.
  11. Shoot at the highest quality or resolution that your camera will allow. Yes it takes up more room on the memory card but if you end up with something you want to crop closer or have printed for framing, you will not be sorry you went with the higher resolution.

Buy a digital SLR camera! They are a bit more expensive than your typical point and shoot but I promise you it will be the best money you ever spent. I own a Canon Digital Rebel and once I wear it out, I will definitely buy another. The quality of your photos, the recovery time between shots and the ability to shoot continuously makes all the difference in the world - especially when photographing fast moving subjects like animals and children. I would advise you to save up for a digital SLR rather than spend your money on another point and shoot. Don't be intimidated by all of the features contained on the SLR's, even if you never use anything but auto mode, the quality of your pictures will increase 10 fold!

And if you want to venture a little further into amateur photography a digital SLR will allow you to expand your abilities with endless settings, filters and lenses. It's a win win purchase!

An excellent site for camera reviews and specifications is Steve's Digicams. I would not buy a camera without visiting this site first.

Steve's Digicams

I hope some of this will help you capture the spirit and personality of your dog in a photo. Something that many of you might find useful is a FREE photo editing program available from Google called "Picasa". It helps you catalog your photos and has editing options like crop, brightness, contrast etc. It will also automatically resize your photos for emailing and has a fantastic printing option and many other useful features such as the ability to send your photos over the net to places like Wal-mart, Ritz Camera or Shutterfly to order prints for local pickup or delivery by post. You can download it here:


Happy shooting and remember that nothing will make your breeder happier than receiving fantastic pictures of the puppies they have entrusted to your care! It’s a thrill to open your email and find that you have not only received recent photos, but extraordinary photos of your babies.

Read another helpful article on photographing your TM at the Tibetan Mastiff Response Network:

Photographing Your Tibetan Mastiff


Top of Page


Home | Philosophy | Plans | Puppies | Our Dogs | Available | The Breed | Links | News | Contact Us
Web Design :: Kathleen McDaniel of Citadel Designs


Citadel Tibetan Mastiffs Home

Citadel Tibetan Mastiffs Philosophy
Citadel Tibetan Mastiffs Available Puppies Adults
Citadel Tibetan Mastiffs Puppies
Citadel Tibetan Mastiffs
Citadel Tibetan Mastiffs What's New
Citadel Tibetan Mastiffs What's New
Citadel Tibetan Mastiffs The Breed
Citadel Tibetan Mastiffs Favorite Links
Citadel Tibetan Mastiffs Contact Us