How To Take Better Dog Photos for Instagram

You know you’ve thought about it… if your dog doesn’t have their own Instagram account, are you even a crazy dog lady? It seems like the first thing a new dog owner does after stocking up on food and enrolling in a training class is to set up their pupper’s very own Instagram. When I meet an irresistible dog on the street I totally ask if they have an account, and the answer is usually yes!

If it’s a hobby or you have dreams of internet puppy stardom, having a better Instagram account starts with taking better photos of your dog. As I’ve grown my own account to 40,000 followers I’ve learned a lot of tricks!

Want to take better dog photos for Instagram? Keeping reading for my top 5 tips plus advice from professional pet photographers!

How To Take Better Dog Photos for Instagram

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1. The Best Lighting for Dog Photos

When in doubt, go for natural light. That means you’re going to get better photos during the day time. Even though your pup might do the most adorable thing right before bed, it’s going to be so hard to capture it on a camera. (That might be a better thing to share in your Stories) You always want the light source to be behind the photographer’s head. So, indoors you want to position your dog so they’re facing a window. If you head outside, stand so that the sun is behind your head and your dog is facing it.

When I first rescued Burt he loved looking out the windows. The easiest thing to capture would be from behind him, but I know that doesn’t make a great Instagram photo. Nobody would be able to see the wonder in his eyes and the smile on his face! So, I opened up the window and held my camera outside to get the view looking in. What a difference in capturing the same situation! If you can’t work with natural light for whatever reason, you could invest in the best ring light, it can be a great option for those that want to experiment with different lighting positions. But be careful, some dogs don’t enjoy bright unnatural light so don’t shoot full beam lights at your dogs eyes.

How To Take Better Dog Photos for Instagram

2. The Best Instagram Locations for Dog Photos

Photographing my own dogs for years and working on photoshoots with other pups I’ve found that you’ll get the best photos in a location where your dog is comfortable. That might be around your home or at the park you go to every day. If I take the dogs somewhere new and expect to take photos I have to give them some time to sniff around and get comfortable first. When their noses are to the ground it’s hard to get a good shot, so it’s better to be patient and take the photo when they’re ready.

I also love taking photos in front of murals and colorful walls. It’s amazing where you can find amazing photo backdrops! When I’m driving around I’m always on the lookout. Lucy and I were driving out of Raleigh, NC on a road trip and I spotted this mural on the side of Einstein Bros. Bagels in a shopping center! So we pulled in, I set up my tripod and snapped the photo. People tell me all the time that they don’t have murals in their town, but I bet they do! I found this yellow wall and concrete pillars on the side of a truck rental shop.


3. Dog Photo Editing Tips for Instagram

I think that a lot of dog photos on Instagram are too dark. As the mama of two dark chocolate labs, I’m always bringing up the shadows, increasing the brightness and playing with the contrast. Besides Photoshop (which not everyone has access to), one of my favorite apps to use for editing is A Color Story. There are tons of filters to choose from! I’ve found that the At Home, Feather and Picnic sets are great for dark colored dog photos.

I also love the editing tools built into the app. Tap the little wrench and you’ll be able to adjust all sorts of things. One of the best features is that you can focus the edit on a small area of a photo. I usually focus the little circle on the dogs’ faces and increase the brightness or contrast so you can see their features better. Download A Color Story today!


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4. The Best Equipment for Instagram Dog Photos

A lot of this advice applies to smartphone photographers. You don’t necessarily need a fancy camera to take awesome photos of your dog for Instagram. There are a couple of things I use to take my phone photos to the next level. I love having an adjustable tripod, like this little bendy one and this taller one. I also couldn’t live without my Bluetooth remote shutter clicker. You need this thing! I swear it will make it so much easier to capture all sorts of photos of your dog. Don’t mess around with self-timers, get this clicker and you’ll capture your shot in no time.


5. How to Stop the Scroll on Instagram

I was at a blogging conference where Joanna Gaines was the keynote speaker. She shared some advice that I think applies to your dog’s Instagram account!

“When you do what everyone else does people just keep scrolling. Be vulnerable and authentic and people will stop and stay a while.” – Joanna Gaines

Your goal on Instagram is to post photos that stop the scroll. You want someone to see your dog’s cute face, stop, like it, read the caption and become a super fan! It’s easier said than done, but one way to start is by creating photos that are unique to your dog. Does your dog have an amazing skill like our friend Oakley who can ring a bell a million times? Or does your dog do something special that makes you smile? Capture your dog’s unique personality and your Instagram account will really stand out!

Is your dog knows for their naughty tricks around the house? Show them off and you’ll connect with other dog moms who have the same struggles. When I posted this photo of Burt on top of my kitchen counters I got so much good training advice and I also got a lot of stories from other people who’ve had the same problems. For Lucy, I love taking tongue-out photos because she loves to eat so much! It really fits her personality.


Advice from Professional Pet Photographers

On the Wear Wag Repeat Podcast, I’ve interviewed over 50 women in the pet industry including some big-time pet photographers. In addition to business advice, I always ask them how to take better dog photos. Read their advice below. Click on each woman’s name to find the full episodes.

Milla Chappel of Real Happy Dogs, Episode 1

Question: Do you have tips for readers to capture great photos of their dogs?

Answer: First, always have a pocket full of treats! (I love these!) And no matter what kind of camera you have, be super aware of your backgrounds. Watch that you don’t have something really distracting coming out of your dog’s head, like a house plant. Look for colorful walls that you can use a backdrop. Often you don’t need to adjust your dog, you can move yourself a few feet to the left or right. I rarely ask the dog to do something specific, I follow the dog around and take pictures of them doing what they want.

Also, try to take the picture from different perspectives. Try kneeling for a few, then go above their head, then try each side. Sometimes the last thing you try is the best shot!

Natalie Williams of Grey Dog Studio, Episode 14

Question: As a professional photographer do you have any photo editing recommendations to help amateurs create better images of their pets?

Answer: I love the app VSCO, I use it for all my personal Instagram photos and funnel some of my professional photos through there, too. It’s all about practicing and experimenting with editing. But I try to have fun with it and go wild! Sometimes you can get lost in so many different color apps and lens flares. So go crazy, but maybe sleep on it! Lately, I’ve also been playing with my shadows and highlights. I go to the extreme with those settings then go back into the contrast to make it look more natural. I learned that from a landscape photography editing tutorial and I’ve been having fun using it on my dog photos.

Nicole Begley of Hair of the Dog, Episode 39

Question: What types of resources do you have for people wanting to learn more about pet photography?

Answer: Check out my blog called Hair of the Dog Photography to get free tutorials as well as a free training around the 5 simple tricks to drastically improve your images. There’s tutorials on removing leashes, brightening eyes and so much more! You can even find Tori sharing some incredible Instagram hacks.

Jenny Karlsson, Episode 9

Question: What’s important when photographing adoptable dogs?

Answer: A good photo is everything, so capturing their personality makes a huge difference in someone seeing an adoptable pet. We would take the dogs outside to get a nice background. It was the perfect way to take them for a walk, and get a great photo.

Find My Favorite Dog Photography Gear on Amazon

You can shop my favorite dog photography gear on Amazon. I have the exact tripods, phone mount, clicker, and clip-on ring light that I use all the time. I also included my mirrorless Sony A7 camera that I use when I want to take really great images! Click here to shop the list. Just so you know, this contains affiliate links so I might receive a small commission if you purchase anything.

How to take better dog photos for Instagram

Take the BEST Photo of Your Dog

Great photos last a lifetime and remind you of every sweet moment with your pup! My free e-book teaches you how to take professional style photos using just your phone.

Powered by ConvertKit

This post contains affiliate links.

Professional advice on taking better dog photos for Instagram5 tips for better dog photos for Instagram


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Tori Mistick is a blogger, podcaster and certified Canine Enrichment Specialist. You might call her a professional dog mom! Tori has a soft spot for senior dogs and loves the color pink. Based in Pittsburgh, PA.


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