Does it take loads of luck to capture portraits of your dog?

Does it take loads of luck to capture epic portraits of your dog? Or is it more akin to skill?

First, what is luck?
Luck is defined as success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.

Then what is skill?
Skill is the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance. 

In a sense, they are on opposing sides, nearly opposites to each other. Pure luck shows up as gambling, while pure skill lands in the game of chess. The rest of the encounters throughout our lives land somewhere on the gradient. (Google “skill vs luck” for some rather in depth articles on how the two work with each other. This one is interesting.)

Guess if it is skill or luck:

  1. Camera use & image creation
  2. Seeing lighting conditions
  3. Capturing an epic action image
  4. Dog body language
  5. Capturing the perfect head tilt

The results: SKILLS!

That’s right! All of the above are skills!

NO WAY!?!?!?

You may think that capturing an epic action image is luck based, but with the right skills & knowledge it is very possible to do (a beginner might attribute the image to luck, whereas the professional knows it is skill). Head tilts don’t always happen and you may think they for sure are a point of luck, but the skill of the photographer is what draws them out, not just pure chance.  

Well hot dang! 

Plus it’s not only the skill of the photographer but the skills of your dog that lend towards epic portraits! 

If your dog has ample skills under his or her belt, they are going to lend way more to their portraits than us just chancing it with luck. And most dogs have tons of skills in their repertoire, even if they are rather primary. 

Skills such as:

  • Sit & lay
  • Standing still
  • Running & jumping
  • Head tilts
  • Shake, speak & roll over
  • Eye contact

Yes, eye contact is totally a skill dogs have and it gives them the leg up over their wild cousins (and was one of the way their ancestors forged their bond with ancient humans). Eye contact makes for stunning images with soul to them.

If your dog looks away when you aim a camera or phone their way, it’s not that they aren’t photogenic, but that they associate the camera as a big scary eye that is staring them down. Luckily, it is easy to transition them into eye contact with every device you use to capture their image. 

Start with a bazillion mega tasty treats. Have your dog sit & treat. Raise your camera just below your face, treat. Raise your camera to your face, treat. Click, shutter sounds, treat. Treat for continued eye contact. Repeat until your dog gives you supermodel eye contact any time your camera is raised. This same process will work with a cell phone too!

And… luck of the Irish, today is St. Patrick’s Day! 

A little history about Saint Patrick, from an article in the Virginia Free Press, 1833.

“St. Patrick received his commission to preach to the Irish nation in the year 431 from St. Celestine. It is generally agreed by writers, and especially by the the great Butler, that he was a Scotchman, and that when at the age of sixteen, he was carried a slave, by certain barbarians, to Ireland, and there retained in captivity for six months. However, admonished in a vision he had from God, he went back to his own country, where he was again enslaved, but recovered his liberty after two months. Finally, he was enabled to make his father’s house, where, by long preparation and careful study, both in science and virtue, he prepared himself for priesthood. In 432 he passed over into Ireland, and there effected a complete conversion of the whole island. He established and endowed innumerable monasteries and houses of learning, and left behind him a priesthood that has since not been out-rivaled for learning, virtue and constancy in maintaining the faith.”

The shamrock legend per 1961: “Long ago, when Ireland was the land of the Druids, there was a great Bishop, Patrick, by name, who came to teach the word of God throughout the country. This Saint, for he was indeed a saint, was well-loved everywhere he went. One day, however, a group of his followers came to hime and admitted that it was difficult for them to believe in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. St. Patrick reflected a moment then stooping down he plucked a leaf from the Shamrock and held it before them, bidding them to behole the living example of this ‘three-in-one’. “

Why March 17th? That’s the day Saint Patrick passed away, about the year 469. 

The first St. Patrick’s day parade in New York was held in 1737!

Why not do some St. Patrick’s day pictures? Heck, we should set up the backdrop stand and backdrops we’ve collected. Blue helped by barking at the backdrop stand, stood on the backdrops and thought they were rather fun to wrestle. 

Once they were up, he was quite a charmer & pro model! (Cheese treats & tripe treats work rather magically!)

First, the St. Patrick’s themed images. I love the green foliage backdrop, though the hat gets a little lost. I may keep this backdrop hung up longer as we haven’t seen rich greens in 6 months…

And a quick series with all of the other backdrops. All with front light provided by the living room windows paired with my new camera. (Yes I got a new camera! A Nikon Z9! A new car too! Haha!)

Looking to give a dog some extra luck and a new home? Check out these “Lucky” dogs on Petfinder!

And also, someone needs to adopt Drumstick! With a name like that, he’s sure to be a charmer. He’s at Tri County Humane Society, just down the road from me!

Or if you’d prefer something Green, or a little good fortune with a Shamrock or  Clover or just a good pal named Pat, you’ll be sure to find the luckiest dog to add to your family this March!

We’re in a blog ring of fellow dog & pet photographers around the world. Next Kim Learn of Two Saints Photography in St. Catharines, Ontario, finds the third time’s a charm with her dog photography.