Take Greyt Photos of Your Greyhound
Learn how to take greyt photos of your personal greyhounds and get that shot that will get your foster adopted!
Learn how to go from this picture with bad lighting, distorted nose, and bad background to this gorgeous picture without an expensive camera!
Learn tricks to posing a greyhound that will take you from tail tucked, back hunched, head down, and miserable looking, to this happy shot with ears and head up.
When photographing foster greyhounds for adoption, it is especially critical to get great shots! The majority of adopters pick out their dogs online first, then make arrangements to meet the dogs they are interested in in person. So your photo is their all important first impression. Adopters have to chose their new family member based on just a short description and a few pictures on a website. They will be choosing one dog from all the greyhounds on your website and from all the dogs on the websites of several other adoption groups in your area. If your photos aren't flattering, they will have no way to know how beautiful your foster really is. It only takes 5 to 15 minutes to get several really beautiful, professional looking pictures, if you know how.
These are the typical greyhound foster photos we all see online. These are all of the gorgeous greyhound, Happy Stutz, at the top of this page. With a little coaching, your foster photos will be much better than these. One picture of your foster sleeping or laying down might be fine to add to an online album of pictures, but it shouldn't be the best or only picture you have.
1. If you only remember one thing, this is the tip to remember! Squat down or kneel down and take all your pictures at the dog's eye level.
Photos taken from above greyhounds rarely look cute or flattering, and make our tall greyhounds look short and squat. Look at the difference in the two photos, taken in exactly the same pose and place, with just the photographer putting one knee down on the ground. The background in the second photo of JD is not great and the full sun isn't great either but he looks proud and beautiful instead of short legged and slightly sad.
If you are photographing a greyhound puppy or a very small breed of dog, you may even need to lay down or put the small dog up on something, like I did in this photo of Miles at 8 weeks old.
2. No Direct Sun!
One of the biggest mistakes people make, when taking photos of humans and animals, is to stand the subject in bright, direct sunlight. This causes dark areas of shadows and looks very harsh.
It is much better to do your photographs on a cloudy day or put your greyhound in the shade. In the second picture below the shadows are softer and JD is not squinting.
There is an exception to this rule. Black or very dark colored greyhounds can look good in the sun and it brings out a beautiful shine in their coat like in these pictures of 9 month old Shrimpy.
It will be more difficult to photograph in the the sun. Be aware of the angle of the sun and try to keep the photographer, the assistant, the greyhound itself, and the leash from casting shadows on your dark colored greyhound like in the photos below.
3. On hot days, try to keep the dog as cool as possible before starting the pictures and snap the pictures fast to avoid too much tongue in your photos. Don't take pictures right after your greyhound has been exercising or playing.
As you can see a picture with less tongue really makes a difference
4. Be aware of where the most light is coming from when photographing in the shade.
Is there a big open area of sky or a lake reflecting light? Make sure the strongest light source is behind the photographer or to one side. If the most light is behind your greyhound, the dog will be too dark in the photo with too much brightness behind it. Be sure that your shade is good shade. Dappled light coming through leaves makes weird looking light or white spots on the dog's coat. The background isn't great in the second photo, but the light is much better on JD.
Light coming from behind your greyhound can be a beautiful effect if you are looking for a silhouette. This type of photo is great for your personal dogs, but isn't something that should be used to show off fosters. These pictures don't show the color of the dog and your focus goes to the the beautiful scenery. The first photo is JD, the dog featured in the photos above, and the second photo is Happy Stutz our model at the top of this page.
5. Check your background.
Is there a tree growing out of your greyhound's back and a log sprouting from his chest, like in the first photo of JD? Is there clutter or a mess in the background or anything else distracting, like another dog licking himself like in the second picture of Miles? Things that don’t look strange to the naked eye can look strange in a photo. That basket ball in the background that you didn't notice, may look like it is a growth on your dog in a picture.
Often the photographer can change the angle or move a little himself to change the background, without moving the dog, like in the picture below.
6. Don't use a flash!
Avoid taking photos indoors unless you have a nice background AND a large window to let in natural light behind the photographer. Don’t try to fix a dark photo indoors or outside by using a flash, the greyhound's eyes will glow green or occasionally red. Please don't use scary, glowing, alien-eye, photos to promote your foster, unless you are in love with him and want to just keep him.
Posing Your Greyhound
1.Get an assistant!
You will need help to pose your dog on leash. It takes forever to get a good shot of a free roaming greyhound in your yard. They naturally sniff around with their head down, which isn't going to be flattering. When he finally perks his ears and head up to listen or look at something, he is not likely to be standing squarely, at a good angle and in front of the best background. Nearly all of the pictures on this page were taken with the dog on leash, except for a few of JD, my obedience trained greyhound, that had a great stand stay. The leash was photoshopped out later in most of the photos.
2. Stand the dog!
Have your assistant make sure your greyhound's legs are squarely under him or even pulled out a little in a dog show stance. If your dog has his front and back feet too closely together he will look hunched up, scared and miserable. Have your assistant reposition the legs a few inches by hand or move the dog slightly forward so it takes a small step with the front feet, keeping the back legs were they were. You don't have to stretch the dog out in a very exaggerated way, keep it natural. You can see the difference moving the feet just a few inches makes by looking at JD below.
3.Take off extra collars and harnesses
If you like to keep a separate tag collar on your dog or the dog is a flight risk and needs a harness, just take the pictures in a securely fenced yard. The collar doesn't have to be fancy, just a plain martingale style greyhound collar is fine, but make sure it is clean. A plain black or neutral color collar is less distracting than a bright colored one. Don't ruin a beautiful picture with ugly old collars.
5. Head up!
Besides the extra collars in the photos above, the greyhounds both have their heads down. Make sure your greyhound's head is up proudly. If his head is low in the photo it will make him look shy, scared or uncomfortable. With dogs that are nervous, your assistant may have to actually pull the dog’s head up by holding the leash above the dogs head and pulling it straight up a few inches. Just try to keep hands out of the photo and, of course, don’t choke the dog.
6. How to hold a greyhound for pictures
The first photo below is a good example of what not to do. Be sure to hold the leash up and out of the picture and have the collar turned so the loops the leash attach to are above the neck or on the back side of the neck. It is very hard to hold a wiggly greyhound still with a leash this loose and it will be hard to crop a leash out of the photo if it is in front of or over the greyhound. The second picture shows the assistant straddling a wiggly greyhound's back end to get a good portrait. Notice the dog is sideways to the photographer and her head is turned and up. Leash is up and out of the way. On our long greyhounds it is easy to crop out the assistant using this hold when you are just taking a photograph of the greyhound's face. The straddle hold works well on most greyhounds, but it can make more timid ones too nervous.
These are the resulting photos from this photo shoot. Notice, in the first picture, we forgot to take off the extra track collar. That ruined an otherwise cute picture. The second photo is what we are looking for. I usually try to get a couple of good slightly different portraits of each foster for the website. It took 33 shots to get just one good portrait because the foster would glance at the camera and quickly look away, blurring the pictures. Making noises and tossing toys worried her, so I just had to just wait quietly for her to look at the camera. It still only took 15 minutes.
This is how your assistant should hold a greyhound for a body shot. The greyhound is sideways to the photographer. Leash is up and out of the way and assistant is leaning forward with her feet and legs as far from the dog as possible. Assistant has made sure the greyhound is standing squarely with head up. The leash was cropped out in the resulting picture. I usually try to get at least one good body shot of each foster that shows what the greyhound looks like.
7. Turn the greyhound's body sideways to the camera
Greyhound portraits look odd if the entire dog is pointed directly at the camera like in these pictures below. It is better to have the greyhound's body sideways to the photographer and have their head turned toward the camera.
Your greyhound doesn't have to be looking directly at the camera. A three quarter shot is really nice where the dog's head is turned slightly but you can still see both eyes. Notice the body is positioned sideways to the camera.
We get so many adopters that say "That greyhound's eyes just spoke to me!" when they see a picture of a foster looking directly into the camera. After hearing so many comments like that, I do try to get fosters to look directly at the camera if I can. Notice again that the dogs' bodies are all placed sideways to the camera and their heads are turned toward the photographer. All the pictures are taken on a cloudy day or in shade.
8. Working with shy greyhounds
If you are working with a shy or nervous greyhound that just won't look at the camera, you can try treats, funny sounds, squeakers or toss a toy to get their attention. If you have access to a second assistant, have them move around right behind the camera in hopes the dog will look. If noises or movement makes them uncomfortable just be silent and wait for them to start looking around. Sometimes turning a bit sideways so you aren't facing the dog directly is less intimidating. Just point the camera toward the dog, instead of your whole body. Backing farther away from the dog and using your zoom lens may also help. If you don't have a zoom lens you can just crop the picture later to remove the excess background. With dogs that won't look at the camera at all, you can always use a profile shot or one of the dog looking back toward its' own tail. Repeating the photo session after the foster has had a few days to settle in can be more successful. With very shy spooky dogs, it is best to pose them inside of a safely fenced area so they can't get away if they freak out and bolt or slip their collar.
9. Ears Up!
Try to get the greyhound to perk up its' ears, especially if you are photographing a foster. Greyhound people know that relaxed greyhounds hold their ears back and down against their head, but the average adopter doesn't know that. In a lot of breeds ears pinned down and back like that means the dog is very nervous or even likely to bite. Try making noises and tossing toys to get the ears up if you can. As you can see from the pictures below, ears make a huge difference in how friendly and happy the dogs look.
10. Keep your distance!
Don't get too close to the dog while taking pictures with a camera or a cell phone. Crop the photo later to get the "close up" look. The dog will be more relaxed without a camera in its face, and you are less likely to have the dog's nose look distorted and overly long in your photos if you stay back a little. If you are taking pictures of your own dog, these with a distorted nose can be funny and cute. They aren't what you want if you are doing adoption photography.
Cameras and apps
Newer cell phones take excellent photos. They are better quality than the professional camera I started out taking dog pictures with, years ago. Many of the photos on this page were taken with a cell phone. You don't have to spend money to buy a fancy camera to get good pictures of your dog or foster.
Make sure your camera and cell phone settings are set to take your photos at the largest size possible. That will give you the best quality photo even if you have to crop the picture a lot later. Crop your photos so the dog is framed nicely and not too far away. Be sure to crop out your assistant. If the photograph is going to be used online, you can resize a copy of the finished cropped photo so it will post well on a website. If you are going to be printing the picture you will want to print from a large, high resolution photo.
Lots of cropping done here to get this beautiful portrait.
These are gorgeous scenic shots would look great in a frame or on a calendar. They would be great shots to try to get of your personal dogs, but skip these when photographing a foster for adoption. You want foster photography to focus on the dog not the beautiful scenery. Crop your foster pictures so the background is not distracting.
If your greyhound is moving a lot and won't stand still, causing photos to blur, you can change the setting on your camera to sports mode or move into brighter light to stop the action. If you continue having blurry photos be sure that your camera is centered on the point on the dog you want to be in sharp focus. A lot of cameras have an automatic center focus, if the dog is not in the center of the photo, the camera will focus on whatever is in the center.
Grab an assistant and go get started! Take LOTS of photos!! I take 30 to 50 photos, of each foster, to end up with 3 really good pictures. You may need to take even more, while you and your assistant are perfecting your skill. Dogs blink, move, lick their lips, move their ears and make faces. Many of your "great shots" may not be as good as you think, when you go back and look at them closer. Kneel down and and just start clicking. It only takes 5 to 15 minutes, with a good assistant. Dogs with nice pictures get adopted faster. Spending 15 minutes getting a few great shots of your foster, now, is likely to save you weeks of time caring for that foster. It will also save you or your group money in the weeks of dog food that foster would have eaten. It is the most important thing you can do to get your foster adopted. We have yet to meet an ugly greyhound, but we have seen some pretty scary foster photos.
Get a good photo editing app and learn to use it. I use Photoshop, but there are many free ones that will allow you to crop, brighten and even take the leashes out of the pictures. With a good photo editing app you will be able to make a good photo into a great photo. Here is an example of what can be done with a good editing program.