Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tricks for Snapping Prize-winning Dog Portraits

ARA – “He’s so photogenic!” gushes one mother. “She’s so lovely, I’m thinking of getting her into modeling,” asserts another. Are these would-be “stage moms” comparing the beauty of their babies? Not quite. For millions of dog-loving Americans, their pet pooch is among their favorite photo subjects.

From YouTube and pet-oriented Web sites to photography competitions like the Make a Milk-Bone Moment contest that celebrates the 100th anniversary of the popular dog snack and those special moments between pet and pet parent, there are ample opportunities for pet-owners to show off their dog’s charms—and their own photography skills. So how do you get the shot of a lifetime, the winning snap that communicates to all who see it just how special your dog really is?

Celebrity Photographer Christopher Ameruoso, who has photographed hundreds of celebrities with their pets, offers some advice on how to get a howling good shot that captures that special bond between you and your pet:

* Use the Great Outdoors for Great Shots

“Most animals look better outdoors,” Ameruoso says. Plus, natural sunlight will make for a better picture. Take your pup outside and look for a background that enhances the subject – but doesn’t distract from it – with complementary colors, textures and visual interest. Natural light is warmest at sunrise and sunset. Position your pet with the sun behind him. For darker animals, direct sunlight can be ideal. Get down to the animal’s level, so that your head and hers are at the same level when you’re taking the photo.

“Some of the best photos I have ever taken are not just of the dog alone but of a dog and his parent,” Ameruoso says. Consider adding man’s best friend to the shot to capture the special bond and interaction between pet and pet parent.

* Be Patient

“Working with animals requires a lot of patience,” Ameruoso says. If your pet seems to be getting distracted, antsy or over stimulated, let him run around for a while, burn off some energy and then come back for the shoot. Keep the mood casual, and remember that once you start snapping you’ll probably have just 20 minutes to get the shot.

* Squeak and Shoot

Who doesn’t love the sight of a dog with his head cocked to the side and ears raised inquisitively? To get a dog’s attention, Ameruoso hides a small squeak toy in his hand and squeezes it just before he’s about to take a shot. Don’t overuse the trick, however; most dogs will catch on to what you’re doing after five to 10 shots, he says. Also, unless your pet is already trained for treats don’t bring them to your shoot. They’ll only distract the animal.

* Safety in Numbers

Ameruoso often takes hundreds of pictures to arrive at one he really likes. Digital cameras make it easy to take the numerous shots you’ll need to get one outstanding picture. Digital photos also allow you to touch up your picture. Use editing software to adjust color, contrast, brightness and saturation.

Once you’ve got that irreplaceable moment you share with your pet, why not enter it in the Make a Milk-Bone Moment contest? The contest commemorates the 100th anniversary of the famous dog snack first invented in a small bakery on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The top 100 entries that display the special times between pets and pet parents will be posted on where the public can vote for their favorite photo and select the grand prize winner, who will receive a $100,000 contract to serve as the first ever Milk-Bone 100th Anniversary SpokesDog. All entries must be received by Sept. 18 and must be accompanied by a brief essay that explains why the pictured Milk-Bone Moment is special. Visit to learn more or to enter the contest.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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