Top tips for taking stunning photos of your dog in flowers this Spring.
I love Spring!!!
Since starting my photography, Spring has catapulted itself into the top spot for my favourite season to take photos in. I love all of the colours and different flowers available to really make your dog portraits hit the next level. I love flowers so much I created a session just for flower shoots!
I have put together my top tips for getting the most out of this wonderful time of year. It doesn't matter if you shoot on a DSLR, mirrorless or phone camera you can apply these tips to improve your dog photography this Spring.
TIP 1 (and by far the most important one!): - Don't trample the flowers!!
This is less of a tip and more of an instruction. Hopefully this is a given to you and I don't need to tell you to respect nature and be careful when shooting amongst flowers. However I'm going to mention it anyway because it is super important and I see it happen way too often.
Fun Fact: Bluebells take 5-7 years to get established from seeds to flowers and it takes them years to recover from damage. It is actually illegal to intentionally pick or damage bluebells!
You can still get shots of your dogs surrounded by flowers without stepping foot in them. Take advantage of paths running through fields and around woodland and make sure you keep your dog on the path and don't let them run through the flowers.
For this shot Hendrix was stood on a clear pathway, and I positioned myself on another path and took the shot across the flowers. It still looks like he is surrounded by bluebells but none of them were damaged while getting the shot.
This leads nicely on to tip 2....
Tip 2: Get down low
This is a great tip for dog photography in general, not just flower shoots.
By getting down to your dogs level you will create a deeper connection with your dog in your photography, it is as if you are seeing them through a dogs eyes, you see the world from their perspective. It helps to make them the main focus of the image.
This is not to say you cannot have fun with quirky angles because you absolutely can, but I would say 90% of all of my images are taken as a result of me sitting, or lying on the floor.
Also by getting down low you are closer to the flowers and can see them from a side view rather than looking down on them.
Which leads me nicely to tip 3.....
Tip 3: Shoot through the flowers to add more depth to your image
This is another tip that you can apply to your photography year round and not just at Spring time. Getting down low and shooting through a texture, such as long grass, leaves or flowers will help to build depth in your images. Those textures at the front will be soft and out of focus while the ones around your dog will be sharper and more in focus. This is easier to achieve on a DSLR or mirrorless camera but even phone cameras now have the ability to capture these shots with the introduction of portrait modes and aperture control.
For those of you that have the ability to control the aperture, an open aperture of f2.8 will help to create those dreamy out of focus textures, just make sure that the focus is on your subject and doesn't jump to whatever you are shooting through.
Tip 4: Check the flower field is free for public use
Again this is less of a tip and more of a warning, please make sure that the flower field you intend to use for your shoot is on public, not private land. For example, poppy fields often appear on farmers land as the result of a bad crop, regardless of how pretty it may look, please do not trespass on private land in order to photograph your dog. Also keep in mind that if these fields are surrounded by farmers crop fields, please do not walk over crops to get to flowers, this is someones livelihood you are trampling on (also please see Tip 1).
There was a stunning poppy field that appeared in my local area however it was on private land, so I took the time and did the research to find a more suitable location to hold my poppy sessions. I understand it is tempting to break the rules just for one or two shots, but please don't, respect peoples land.
Some places will require an entry fee in order to access their flower crops such as lavender and pumpkin farms. Do your research and make sure these places are dog friendly and happy to allow you to take photos. Most places are happy for you to take personal photos however if you are shooting clients you will need to ask for permission and may need to pay them an additional fee to use their site.
Tip 5: Do your research
Flowers are very unpredictable and don't always pop up at the same time or in the same place every year. I have found Facebook and Instagram an invaluable tool for discovering new flower locations. If you follow local groups or dogs that live in your area, keep an eye out for locations that they tag in their photos that you could also use.
On Facebook, have a look at local walking groups that regularly post photos from their walks. I am part of a local group like this and it is a fabulous resource for finding new locations and also knowing when and where the local flowers are. Sometimes it is worth simply asking someone if they are willing to share the location with you, most people are happy to help.
For those of you in the UK like me, I am going to share with you a fabulous group I found last year that is all about finding local flower fields. People share locations of flower fields they find across the UK.
I hope this has been useful for you to start planning your spring photo shoots for your dog. If you have additional tips you think I have missed, or you have a specific question for me, drop them in the comments below.
If you use some of these tips to get some cracking flower portraits of your dog, please share them with me on social media, I'd love to see them!