After a day of sewing up a batch of fun dog collars I was preparing the listings and waiting for the sun to set so I could walk over with the pup to the Battle Green to shoot some lifestyle shots.  

With careful consideration of everything that was needed we set off but, the best-laid plans of mice  and men, or in this case... dogs and women often go awry!  Thinking I had everything that I needed and having exercised the dog before hand I promised my chief leash-holder and dog trainer (ahem.. daugher) that the process would go smoothly and quickly.  Instead, well… the pictures tell the real story…

There are way better blogs about the art of product photography I am sure but some things can still be learned from a bad shoot too.  Here then are 4 tips for avoiding a messy photography session.

1. Location, Location, Location - Every photographer realizes the value of a beautiful setting to stage a shoot.  I thought the well trimmed lawn of the Battle Green would be perfect and I could not have been more wrong.  Why?  My model!  But, really I cannot blame Pacino (yes, he is named after the scars on his face).  It was really my fault for not realizing Pacino can’t help being the puppy that he is at 9 months old or that he is so good natured that he wants to play and say hi to everyone.  And, the fact that he is a Lab breed and wants to chase birds, squirrels and bunnies - anything that moves really - may have been lost on me with my desire to shoot at a certain place.  This setting was way too busy for an active pup like Pacino.

2.  Timing is everything - Good lighting is important in photography and I had planned to shoot when the outdoor light would be flat which meant the sun had to set a bit.  Ahead of time I thought I would take Pacino out for a long walk and expend his energy and we did just that… before dinner.  Afraid to lose the light we went right to the green after the walk.  Once there Pacino was so hungry he spent the whole time harassing me for treats and at one point had his whole head in the treat bag while we were talking about the camera setting.  In hindsight I realize that I had created a tired and “hangry”  pup not a good combination at all.

Keeping his eye on the prize!  Pacino the "Hangry" pup wanted the treat in myhands and was very vocal about it!

3.  Charge the Batteries - Pacino’s batteries were depleted and that was my fault!  And, the camera batteries?  Also my fault.  Luckily I had a cell phone camera, not the best but at least I had managed to charge that before leaving.  My daughter’s sigh was deafening…  

4.  Patience - Having patience with dogs is definitely important, especially with a high-energy pup like Pacino.  Patience is also important during a shoot.  The lighting might not be right or the model is having a bad day but losing one’s cool only makes everything worse.  Once I stopped trying to get the “perfect” shot and worked with the situation instead of trying to control it I found that the session was not a complete loss.  I was able to get a few good shots after I allowed Pacino to be himself.  

So, here you have them 4 tips for a better photo session as taught, not by me, but by the dog!

Not all of the pictures were bad, Pacino was eyeing a squirrel and sat long enough forme to take a quick snap! 

What are your product photography tips?  Share in the comments section!