Sheffield pooch photographer Rowan William has perfected the art of pet portraits. Here she shares her top tips for capturing your canine on camera....

To me, being a dog photographer is the best job in the world made even better by living in stunning South Yorkshire with some of the most amazing views in the world as my backdrop.  

Before launching Pooch & Pineapple Dog Photography, I used to work in corporate marketing, however, after purchasing a fancy camera nearly 15 years ago (despite not knowing how to use it at the time) photography soon became my passion. 

Great British Life: Rowan with Tula and GeorgeRowan with Tula and George (Image: Katie Dervin)

At the time, I was living close to an animal rescue centre and volunteered my time to photograph the cats and dogs they rescued. I’ve always loved animals, and have had many myself over the years.  

I currently live with a big goofy rescue dog called George (he’s a mutt, probably a rottweiler cross).  

However, it was taking on an end-of-life foster Dobermann, Tula, that really inspired me to take the leap into dog photography as a business.  

Tula was only with me eight months and I loved her deeply. The photographs I have of us all together are incredibly precious.  

Our dogs are only with us for a short time, and taking photos of (and with) them is one of the best things we can do to preserve happy memories.  

Here are my top tips for making the most of the photos you take of your best friend. 

Use the camera you have available to you 

Even though I have lots of camera equipment, I often take pictures of my own dog using the camera on my phone.  

I always start by wiping the lens to remove any finger marks and keep in mind that my camera phone (an iPhone) has a wide lens on the front.  

This means the lens takes in a lot of the scene and isn’t zoomed in to a point, so I stay close to my dog to make sure he really fills the frame.

Great British Life: Get creative and have fun taking shots of your dogGet creative and have fun taking shots of your dog (Image: Pooch & Pineapple photography) 

Prepare your dog 

Being a doggy model can be hard work! Help them to prepare to pose by giving them some time to let off steam before you ask them to concentrate. Let them sniff and potter about to get familiar with the environment before snapping away. 

Choose a spot where your dog is safe 

We’re spoiled for choice with beautiful locations in Yorkshire. When out in the countryside with your dog, keeping them safe is key.  

I always avoid areas where there is livestock, nesting birds or wild animals. If your dog isn’t great with recall, keep them on a lead. Most of the dogs I photograph are kept on leads. My own dog is quite reactive so he stays on a lead all the time.  

Great British Life: Lighting is key when taking the perfect photographLighting is key when taking the perfect photograph (Image: Pooch & Pineapple photography)

Capture great light 

I always recommend people take photos outside because the sun is the best light there is.  

Blazing midday sun is very unflattering for anyone in front of a camera, canine or otherwise! The bright light creates harsh black shadows - plus your dog will be panting to keep cool. 

Overcast and cloudy days are great for dog photography because the light is evenly spread and shadows are so soft they are barely noticeable.  

To illuminate your dog's warm breath on a cold winter day, move your dog so that the sun is behind them and lighting them from the back.

Get down low 

Changing your viewing point will dramatically change your photos. Us humans see the world from our human height, but it gets much more interesting when you take photos from your dog's eye level.  

Tips for photographing dogs in autumn and winter

On clear days, take advantage of the clear bright morning and evening light. The sun is much lower in the sky at this time of year, so you'll have that beautiful golden light from mid-afternoon through to sunset. 

On overcast days head out at midday to ensure you've got lots of light to illuminate your beautiful pooch.

If you want to capture leaves blowing and your pooch's long hair flowing, be sure to use a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion. And if the wind isn't blowing, you can cheat a little bit by throwing crispy dry leaves in the air for a bit of extra fun in the photo. 

Use high-value treats (like chicken or dried liver) to get a shot of your dog looking up at you from sitting on the dried leaf-covered ground.

Great British Life: Picking the right background is key when photographing both black and white dogsPicking the right background is key when photographing both black and white dogs (Image: Pooch & Pineapple Photography)

Capturing black dogs 

Lots of my clients have black dogs, and I know they can be tricky to photograph. I follow a few simple rules.  

Firstly, I always keep the background fairly neutral in tone - big green bushes and mossy walls make a perfect backdrop. If the background is too bright your dog is going to look like a black shape.  

Secondly, I make sure there is some light shining on the dog's face - I want to see their sparkly eyes shining out at me and all the gloss in their coat.  

When using your phone, tap the screen where your dog's face is to tell the camera what you’re taking a photo of and it will adjust the brightness of the picture to suit.  

Capturing white dogs 

Similar rules apply here. Make sure there is a fairly neutral background, nothing too light or too dark - we want to see all the details in the coat of your dog.  

If there are shadows on the ground, moving your dog into a shady area really helps make sure your dog isn’t reflecting all the light back at you and appearing like a glowing angel - even though they probably are! 

Great British Life: Making sure your dog is comfortable and stress-free is incredibly importantMaking sure your dog is comfortable and stress-free is incredibly important (Image: Pooch & Pineapple Photography)

Capturing active dogs and puppies 

It’s very rare I photograph a dog who can easily sit and stay for their photograph to be taken, so I always work with the energy level of the dog.  

If your dog wants to run around, try capturing them running towards you across a bridge or along a log.  

Get down low and put your camera in burst mode and keep snapping. If you have an explorer on your hands, photographing them standing on a rock, bench or wall is an easy way to satisfy that urge and slightly restrict their space enough to snap them in the moment. 

Great British Life: Autumn is the perfect time to take photos of your four-legged friendAutumn is the perfect time to take photos of your four-legged friend (Image: Pooch & Pineapple Photography)

Reward, reward and reward some more! 

The more you reward your dog for doing something for you, the more they want to do it. I use a combination of rewards including different textured treats and a good mix of toys.  

I want the dogs to think the photoshoot is the most enjoyable activity they have ever done. I never force a dog to do something they don’t want, and when they are calm and focused on the camera (even if just for a second at first) they get rewarded.  

I always keep the time they have to be calm and focused quite short and keep a keen eye for them getting stressed or confused.  

Have fun 

More than anything, have fun taking photos of your dog. Keep it short and light-hearted. Be sure to experiment, make mistakes and try out new techniques - it’s the best way to learn. 

Great British Life: Cityscapes such as Sheffield make for cool photo opportunities Cityscapes such as Sheffield make for cool photo opportunities  (Image: Pooch & Pineapple Photography)

Rowan's favourite photography spots in Yorkshire

Wentworth Woodhouse - both the formal gardens and the wider deer park are lovely places to visit and photograph dogs. There's a wide variety of beautiful scenery including the grand Jacobean house, manicured formal garden, open parkland and quiet woodland.

Penistone - Both Penistone town and the surrounding rolling hills are excellent places to take photos of dogs. I really enjoy hiking up to the top of Royd Moor for views over the Dark Peak. Penistone town is also host to many independent businesses which are dog friendly. 

South Street Park, Sheffield - This place hosts one of the best views over Sheffield city centre and is also west facing. This makes it an ideal location for sunset photos with a grand cityscape as the backdrop. 

Rivelin Valley Nature and Heritage Trail - located on the North West side of Sheffield, this 2.5-metre trail is brilliant for taking photos of dogs that love to paddle and scramble. There's moss-covered woodland, heritage industrial buildings and plenty of dog-friendly pubs and cafes to rest at. 

Cayton Bay, North Yorkshire - this quiet secluded beach is dog friendly all year round. Nestled between Scarborough and Filey it's a great place to let your dog burn off some steam in the waves. The nearby towns also make lovely picture locations with their quintessential British seaside town aesthetic. 

Rowan's dog-friendly go-to's

Dog and Partridge Pub, 56 Trippet Lane, Sheffield - Traditional and cosy freehouse in the centre of Sheffield. The staff really love dogs here and always make a special fuss of canine patrons. 

North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Pickering to Whitby - Heritage railway line that is a great day out for all the family. Dogs are allowed on all the trains, and you can get off to explore the stops along the way.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Yorkshire - Set in vast parkland and with what seems like an endlessly changing landscape of modern sculpture. 

See Rowan’s dog photography, visit 

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