You don’t have to be a pet owner to know that photographing dogs can be tricky. It takes time, patience, and skill to snap artful images of canines. Those who are able to capture such images undoubtedly have a gift—with both photography and animals. Anne Geier is one of these incredible individuals taking gorgeous pictures of dogs—both alone and in groups—that highlight their heart and humanity. Their expressive faces, which will make even the most lukewarm dog lovers melt, are made even more enchanting by being set amidst gorgeous natural backdrops.
Geier began photographing canines nearly a decade ago and has refined her techniques to make great shots an inevitability—not just a fluke. It starts with her fundamental viewpoint of pet portrait photography. “You have to show their soulful nature on the photos,” she tells My Modern Met. “The photos should say something about the dog.” In Geier’s work, this is achieved with an intoxicating combination of visuals; through lighting and color, she showcases the innate beauty of the creature, highlighting everything from the patterns in their fur to the piercing color of their eyes. Additionally, she places them in sun-soaked settings that any human would find idyllic. Together, they communicate a faithful companion that will be by your side on your adventures—but also the times you want to snooze in a hammock next to a grand lake.
We spoke to Geier about her work, including some of her favorite dog photography tips. Read our exclusive interview, below.
How did you get into photographing dogs?
The reason why I started to take photos of dogs was my first dog, Cindy. First of all, I just wanted to take photos of Cindy to create memories for eternity but then I developed a passion. The combination of art and dogs is truly fascinating.
You have a penchant for capturing the soulful nature of pups. How do you capture this kind of emotion in your subjects?
Capturing the soulful nature of pups means that you have to get oneself into a dog. Dogs are unpredictable! So you have to be quick enough to capture the spirit of the moment and, at the same time, you have to be patient to wait until this moment arises. You have to shoot at the eye level of the dog or lower– so you will achieve a special perspective from the dog's point of view. Nowadays most dogs are well trained, which makes it much easier to create nice portraits of them. The most important thing is to show the trademark spirit of the dog.
What are your favorite tips for photographing great portraits of dogs? What do you think all first-time photographers should know?
First of all, try to make the dog model be your friend, because you have to create living photos with a happy and not bored, scared, or tired dog. You have to motivate the dog with treats or its favorite toy. Try to make funny noises to win the dog's attention. A perfect shot of a dog is much more than only a perfect composition, lighting, and location. You have to show their soulful nature in the photos. The photos should say something about the dog.
Be patient and let the dog explore the location, so you create a relaxed atmosphere, which is very important to get a nice portrait.
Use a big aperture that the first glance is immediately directed to the dog.
Take care that you get a glance into the dog's eyes. Without a glance, the eyes do often look inanimate.
What gear do you use in your photography? What is your post-production like?
I work with a Nikon D850 and D750 and a large arsenal of different lenses. But my favorite lenses are the 85 1.4 and the 35 1.8. I love the 85mm because you can create an amazing blurry background and use many different perspectives. The big advantage of the 35 1.8 is that you can show the dog in a big part of the environment in a very attractive angle.
My latest gear is an underwater housing. Still, it is a little bit challenging for me but I am working hard to get better.
My pictures live from certain lighting moods, from a slightly dreamy look and breathtaking landscapes. I try to capture the characters of the dogs as good as possible and make the pictures emotionally captivating. I pay attention to get the best out of the photo while taking it. So when I am shooting, I try to create a natural frame and a certain depth through the natural conditions. With editing the photos only a little bit, the final finishing is done. Many of my participants in the workshops and coaching sessions are often very surprised how little is changed within the picture editing.
You've photographed gorgeous portraits of pups in so many ways. How do you keep things fresh?
The most powerful source to keep the photos breathtaking is inside each dog and the beauty of nature. Especially the spirit of my own dogs, Cindy, Finn, and Yuri, was and is a lot of inspiration for me. The soulfulness of dogs will always amaze me and uphold my creativity in taking new pictures.