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How to Photograph a Dog at the Beach

A dog, crashing waves, and a beautiful shoreline to run along: what a great photo opportunity. Beach photography is susceptible to overexposure, but a short guide to camera settings and dog handling is all you need to set up the day for success.

Preparing to Photograph

1. Choose a good time for photography. If your dog is brown or black, an early afternoon shoot will provide the best contrast. If your dog has a light coloration, the late afternoon may be better. You'll usually want the sun behind the camera, but you can try a magical "sun on the water" effect if you're up for a challenge.

  • A bright overcast day is easiest on the photographer.

2. Increase the shutter speed. Set this to 1/200 or faster. This will let you take action shots of the dog in motion without blurs.

3. Increase the aperture size. Lower the f-stop value to increase the amount of light let into the lens. This makes up for the fast shutter speed, which can otherwise make your pictures too dark.

4. Lower the ISO. All that sand and water reflects a lot of light, so lower your camera's ISO to avoid overexposure. An ISO of 100 is usually ideal in sunny weather.

  • You may increase the ISO if your pictures are too dark, but keep it below 640 or so. The higher the ISO, the grainier the photograph.

5. Adjust the white balance based on the dog's fur. When you get to the beach, take a few test shots of your dog. Choose a white balance that gets the best color out of the dog.

6. Check out the area. Look for flowing lines or patterns in the sand, shoreline, or water. Think about how you would like to incorporate these elements into your shots.

7. Set up your tripod (optional). If you're here to have fun on a beach trip, you may just want to carry the camera around your neck and play with your dog. If you're here for a dedicated photoshoot, though, you may want a tripod for at least some of your shots. Bring a wooden board to create a flat surface to support it. Choose a location far enough from the water to avoid damage, and away from other beachgoers.

Photographing Your Dog

1. Arrange a running shot. Position your camera far enough from the dog to avoid the sand it kicks up, and to include some of the background. Point the camera so the dog is on one side of the field of view. Throw a ball or call the dog to you so it runs toward the camera at an angle. Photograph it as it runs.

2. Take candid shots of the dog playing. Throwing a frisbee into shallow water is a great way to get more action shots of the dog. If you can, have an assistant play with the dog so you can focus on the photography.

3. Get the dog to pose. If you want the dog to look at the camera, hold a treat — or an empty fist — right above the camera. Squeeze a squeaky toy to get the dog's ears to perk up.

  • If you're going for a more dramatic effect, take the shot from a distance, at a slight angle.

4. Finish up the day. Complete your shoot with some pictures of the dog relaxing or panting. And for a final classic, explain to your friend that art requires him to stand next to the dog while it shakes water off its fur.


  • Bring along brushes to get sand out of your equipment.