Today I am going to cover infant puppy photos. If you are going to take photos of young puppies, it is best to start out with a blanket of a solid color and please make it a different shade to the puppy you are photographing. Pick a background with some weight. A sheet makes for a poor background choice because every fold or wrinkle will show and it really does look tacky. You will not be happy with your photos. White is hard to work with, as it will cause the subject in front to be either to dark or totally overexpose the background creating glare. White is suitable as an accent (lace, toy, etc) but do not use it for the entire background. White can make some amazing photos, but takes perfect light, which is unlikely if you are new to photography. Black can be amazing as well, but it also takes a lot of light, especially with black puppies! A safe background for infant black puppies is a cream, grey, brown in solids. You can do a texture but keep it simple like tweed. If you use a color like pink for girls and blue for boys, just be aware that the color can change how the pups look. Your blue background will add a blue haze to black puppies, as an example. I do not have a big issues with this, as I think it adds interest as long as it isn’t overdone. However, if you want true color to show, you need to stick with more earth tones and move out from there.
I’m going to show you some photos of my typical infant puppy setup for photography.
STEP ONE: Look around your house for a location that has good natural light. A large window is perfect for infant pups. You do not want anything drafty, so no outside shots or open doors. The puppies safety comes first. I have a large wall of windows in my computer room that gets direct sunlight in the morning. Just after the sun peaks over the roof and the direct light is defused, I take photos. OR on a cloudy day, I take them early in the morning. The clouds defuse the light. If you have studio lighting, great. I do not, so I make do with what nature provides.
Now that you have your location, you need to set up a place for the pups to rest and create a backdrop. I like to raise my babies up so that when I sit on the floor I can take eye level photos of them. To do this, I use two laundry baskets and back them up to two computer chairs right in front of my light source.
Next, take a large dog bed and place over the baskets and bend it so it creates a backdrop against the chairs.
Next (NOT SHOWN) put a heating pad on the dog bed and turn it on so it can start to warm the area. This keeps the puppies very very happy and sleepy. Lastly, add your basic background. It can be a blanket or section of heavy fabric, etc.
Now take a pair of socks the same color as the pups you will be photoing and use it as a test subject. See how the shadows are going to fall, make sure in your mind you know where the best angle to take the photos and what level you need to be on to achieve your goal. If you have a DSL camera, you can play around with your F-stop and see how much depth of field makes for the most interesting photo. You can test multiple backgrounds with the socks. The best way is to just leave the large heavy background and add in other items like scarves, baby blankets, sheep skin, or other props. The large brown blanket I have above is really nice because it grips whatever fabric I place over it and I can use it to safety pin other backgrounds up behind. Using the socks while you are just starting out puts less stress on pups. Once you have experience, you can usually go right to using the pups as I did here JAZZ AND RIVER PUPS- 3 DAYS OLD. You can see there are many many options to create some really amazing photos. This setup will allow you flexibility at a low cost.
A note on flash. I do not like to use flash photography in most cases. It is to harsh and removes all shadow from the subject creating a flatter image. If you need extra light use something white to reflect the light you have back on your subject from a different angle. A large piece of white cardboard or poster board could be placed on each end of the setup above to reflect a lot of the window’s light back onto the puppy.
Things are getting a bit busy around here, with the movers coming in a week. It might be a while before my next post on the subject, but I still have a lot to cover. Keep checking back for more interesting doggy photography tips!