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5 Tips For Better Pet Photos To Immortalize Your Furry Friends

Over the years photographer and creative director Rachel Jezowski has been photographing her adventures with her dogs and sharing her images and videos on Instagram: @wildgoldens. Her following continues to grow, and she’s been approached by a multitude of brands to create images including not only her dogs, but other dogs and products. She likes to help coach others who are photographing dogs or doing other commercial work, and we sat down with her to learn more about how she creates successful imagery of her adventures with her three golden retrievers –  Barley, Cassie and Moe. Keep reading as she shares more about her start in dog photography and her top five tips for photographing your own furry, four-legged subjects.

Photo by Rachel Jezowski. Sony Alpha 7 III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/640-sec., f/1.8, ISO 200

Photo by Rachel Jezowski. Sony Alpha 7 III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/640-sec., f/1.8, ISO 200

Meet The Wild Goldens

Much of Rachel’s work shares her adventures with her three golden retrievers. “Barley is the OG who started it all,” she explains. “He is turning 11 here in December, so we’ve had a lot of walks over quite a few years. I began photographing him during them because he would just pose in the most magnificent ways. I loved capturing his quirks and personality throughout the different seasons, and that spurred our Instagram page @wildgoldens. That just kind of blew up and we started working with brands and I began making content and doing product photography and all of these things.”

Photo by Rachel Jezowski. Sony Alpha 7 III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/1.6, ISO 500

Photo by Rachel Jezowski. Sony Alpha 7 III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/1.6, ISO 500

Rachel decided to add to her adventure crew, getting Barley a little brother. “His name is Moe, and he’s six now which I can’t believe,” she says. “Moe is so fun to photograph and my dad jokes he has to be the most photographed puppy in the universe. Then Cassie came into our lives right before the pandemic. I saw a picture of her online and knew she had to be ours. We rescued her and my gut was right, she was the perfect fit to complete our little family. We think she’s about six years old too, but aren’t totally sure.”

Rachel’s 5 Tips For Better Dog Photography


1. Create A Relaxed & Comfortable Environment For Your Subject

Rachel says that her number one tip for dog photography would be to always let the dog relax and get to know you first, whether you're working with your dog or someone else’s. “If we’re taking my dogs out to a new location, we always give them space and time to sniff things and just kind of get any initial jitters out before we actually start working together. That helps quite a bit. I also definitely lean into more documentary style images, so I kind of just like to watch my dogs and capture them doing whatever they love to do.”

Photo by Rachel Jezowski. Sony Alpha 7 III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/640-sec., f/2.5, ISO 200

Photo by Rachel Jezowski. Sony Alpha 7 III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/640-sec., f/2.5, ISO 200

2. Bring Toys Or Treats Your Subjects Love

If you’re trying to get a specific shot and only have a certain amount of time, that’s when the special rewards might need to come in. “Bringing a squeaker along or making really crazy noises really helps you get their attention and perks them up quite a bit,” Rachel explains. “Don't be afraid to use really crazy treats like hot dogs or cheese or depending on what dog you're trying to capture, maybe they have a specific toy that they really like that you could bring along to kind of get them in action or paying attention to you.”

3. Learn How To Work With The Light

Rachel prefers to backlight her pups when photographing them, avoiding super harsh light. “I just really vibe at sunset or sunrise, and I always try to shoot for those times to get my work done because I just think that natural light is so amazing,” she says. “I think it’s important to just learn how to work with the light the best way possible for you. I like to use the hand trick where you can put your hand up and see where the shadows are. I always tell people to try that, to make sure you're positioning your subject correctly to get that best shot.

Photo by Rachel Jezowski. Sony Alpha 7 III. Sony 85mm f/1.8. 1/1000-sec., f/2, ISO 200

Photo by Rachel Jezowski. Sony Alpha 7 III. Sony 85mm f/1.8. 1/1000-sec., f/2, ISO 200

She continues, “I'm a really lazy editor, and so if I don't get it right, I don't love spending a lot of time in Photoshop and over processing. I more so would like to shoot correctly and expose correctly to then bring that in and have that image already be what I want. And the Sony colors are so beautiful. I barely have to touch my images most of the time, but I just quite literally bought my first flash this week. So while I’ve always just used natural light, I’m excited to try something new.”

4. Get Gear That Will Help You (& Don’t Be Afraid To Upgrade For Brand Work)

Rachel says she wishes she would have purchased that flash for indoor photography quite a while ago, which leads her into her next tip of not being afraid to have the proper gear to help you. Having previously shot with Canon, she realized she wasn’t able to get the speed or quality she needed for her imagery. “In so many instances I'm trying to catch these very quick moments of my dogs,” she explains. “I almost quit photography at that time because I spent all this money on this new nice camera, and here it just did not do what I was hoping and I was missing most shots. So I switched from that Canon to the Sony Alpha 7 III, and was instantly addicted.”

Photo by Rachel Jezowski. Sony Alpha 7 III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/320-sec., f/1.4, ISO 100

Photo by Rachel Jezowski. Sony Alpha 7 III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/320-sec., f/1.4, ISO 100

Rachel then upgraded to the Sony Alpha 7 IV when it was released, and most recently upgraded to the Sony Alpha 7R V to meet her needs as she leans more into commercial photography. “When I’m working with brands, many times they want very crisp details of their product or the dog, and sometimes they need things shot very wide to fit a certain banner ad, or a certain white space at the top of the image to put text over it. Just having more megapixels and resolution allows me to blow those images up and use them in multitudes of different applications. And it's not that my other camera wasn't cutting it, but this just gave me a lot more flexibility to have them be able to crop in really closely and it still looks amazing.”

She likes to use the Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master for pet photography, as well as other lenses like the Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master, Sony 50mm f/1.4, Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master and Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master II. “These have all been just amazing for dog photography,” she says.

5. Go In With An Open Mind

Even with all of the right gear and preparation in the world, it’s important to remember that you are working with animals. They don’t speak our language and we can’t read their minds, so most moments are completely unexpected. “I think I know my dogs very well, and it's very easy for me to get really amazing images with them,” Rachel explains, “but I have been on a few projects where we're just using everybody's time trying to get these specific shots and have the dogs be interested in whatever we're doing that day, and regardless of how hard you try, sometimes it just doesn't work out.”

Photo by Rachel Jezowski. Sony Alpha 7 III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/1000-sec., f/1.4, ISO 200

Photo by Rachel Jezowski. Sony Alpha 7 III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/1000-sec., f/1.4, ISO 200

“So I would say just knowing that going in and being open and ready to do it until you get it right. It’s just important to keep the animal happy because you want them to be having fun too. It's their job as well, and if they don't enjoy it, nothing is going to turn out.”

Rachel loves what she does, and cherishes the adventures with her three goldens. “I think that they are just so happy to be out exploring, and it brings me an immense amount of joy to be able to not only do that and experience that with them and show them new things, but also capture that with them because I know I'll be able to look back at all of those memories. So that's a big thing, and then honestly…it's just fun. I don't think you can work with dogs and not be happy.”

Follow more of Rachel Jezowski and her dogs’ adventures on Instagram @wildgoldens.

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