Black spaniel running through water with a ball
We all take loads of photos of our dogs, but when we want to have a good one for a particular reason, very few of those we take ourselves are any good. Certainly, very seldom are they good enough to display on our walls.

This is where a specialist pet photographer can provide you with an image or two fit for the National Gallery, or at least your living room wall.

We’ve asked Stockport based Nicki Cameron to describe life as a dog photographer so you know what’s involved in getting the perfect picture of your pooch.

Preparation is key

Thankfully, no two day are the same in my world! As a natural, outdoor dog photographer, my favourite days are when I have a photoshoot on location.

Preparation is key for a successful session. My equipment must be ready & charged with all the doggy accessories available to hand such as balls, bubbles & whistles. I'll take along a variety of lenses but my go-to zoom lens will already be on the camera & ready to shoot.

Appropriate clothing depends on the season & weather. Dog photographers have to be on a level with the dogs which means getting as close to the ground as possible, so unless it's a Great Dane, we'll be lying flat! As I write this blog, it's mid-winter & wet so I'll be covered head-to-toe in thermals & waterproofs and I'll return home from the shoot looking like the mud monster.

By contrast, in the summertime, I'll most likely have nettles stings or insect bites on my arms & legs. It's at this point I think of the hundreds of people who comment that the life of a dog photographer is so much fun......

Hopefully, it won't rain as that's the only type of weather which makes me postpone a photoshoot. Droplets on my lens & a damp, bedraggled dog don't equate to the perfect photo. However, most other weather extremes can offer amazing, striking scenes that are different to the norm.

Best time of day for photos

You might have heard of the golden hour in photography. This is the hour after the sun rises and the hour before it sets. The soft, diffused light at these times is perfect for taking photos. Summer photography can mean very early starts! Bright blue skies, when the sun is high, can make photos look pretty flat so cloudier days are actually better. Also, dogs & heat don't mix well so if it is very hot, shoots are usually postponed till the cooler hours or days.

Dexter, the Basset Hound

But back to my wintry day! No, wait - another digression. I've got to tell you the story of Dexter, the Basset Hound. He was the most laid back dog I've ever come across. What a character! As he aged, he began to sag a little around his midriff - don't we all - and his long belly was quite close to the ground.

On our shoot, thick snow was covering the ground and Dexter began to look a little unhappy & agitated. His paws had accumulated ice balls between his toes but (talking about balls) on closer inspection, I also noticed that Dexter's furry plums had a thick icy covering where his undercarriage had trailed in the snow. No wonder the poor chap was uncomfortable!

The shoot was abandoned & Dex was whisked home to have the hairdryer on his tackle to defrost the ice...

High energy clients

Back to my day! Off to the shoot where I get to meet another gorgeous dog. This time it's Oslo, a 1 year old Lab. We go for a walk & I chat to his owner so that Oslo can run off a bit of steam (not successful!), then find a lovely spot, making sure the background is clear of unwanted objects and I'm on the ground, firing off a few shots of him running and playing.

I have the camera set to burst mode with a very high shutter speed so I can capture Oslo without blur. He's having an absolute ball, darting in & out of the tall grass. He's stops still for micro seconds when something distracts him & I have to be ready to press the shutter just at that very moment.

We head off to the river for some water action shots. Oslo's energy levels are still very high & he tries to run off with my camera bag! He's also very generous with his distribution of water & mud each time he leaps out of the water so both me & his owner are wet & splattered.

Damp Labrador standing on a grassy bank in the wind

Just about on the hour mark, I've taken over 500 shots of Oslo & we call it a day. Oslo's still going strong & looks disappointed that he's on his way home. He's one of the most energetic dogs I've ever photographed!

At this point, I can't wait to get home & upload the photos to see exactly what I've captured! I'll do a first round of deletions & then call it a day so that I'll look at the shots with a fresh pair of eyes the next day.

I can honestly say, being a dog photographer is my dream job. I love dogs & I love photography.

Dog photographs in the workplace

My company, The Art of Dog: Office Wall Art, is all about taking photos of your dog & transforming them into huge, quality wall art for your office, showroom, clinic, home office or any workplace. Imagine how happy you would be to look at a fabulous photo of your dog all day at work!

The philosophy behind The Art of Dog is that having personalised photos of dogs on the wall is a conversation starter, an ice-breaker, trust inducer & a focal point. There's also the well being aspect where oxytocin, the feel good hormone, is released when people look at images of dogs. Stress levels are lowered, people feel happier & calmer.

I also take photos for home life too!

If you'd like to know more, please message me for a chat & have a look at my website. My patch is the northwest – ask me for details on the areas I cover.

Head and shoulders of a cockapoo
Dog artDog photography

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