One of my biggest frustrations as a dog mom is not being able to properly capture the true beauty of my standard black poodle, Kiki. Walking her around New York City is never dull. People often stop me to take her picture and ask me who does her hair. One guy even told me she looked like his ex mother-in-law! Unfortunately, most of my best efforts trying to capture her good looks have ended in failure. When trying to find a solution for getting a better picture, I realized that I wasn't the only one with this struggle. Black dogs are significantly more difficult to photograph!

how to photograph black dog, Kiki photographed by Marianne Barnett

Kiki photographed by Marianne Barnett

It’s a true and sad fact that a black dog will sit in a shelter much longer than any other color variety of dog. One of the reasons? Black dogs are notoriously difficult to photograph or see in photos.

Here are some helpful and easy tips we have gathered on capturing black dogs with a professional camera or a smartphone from pet photographers and pet influencers:

black dog with contrasting background


You can use nature, a bright wall, furniture or a colorful leash, collar or outfit to accomplish this.  

“Since the dog is already so dark, incorporate bright colors or accessories into the shot for some contrast!” - Megan Rose Macari @nycdogmom @pharrellandrosie

professional dog photo



You have some of the finest photography tools right in your pocket!

“On the iPhone camera, you can click on the screen and play around with the exposure settings. A nice, overcast day helps too for an overall even exposure.” Beth @goodboygrayson

black dog with flowers


Does your dog have a beard that makes the hipsters swoon? A unique spot perhaps?

“Find what makes them stand out. For my little black dog, I always make sure that the focus of his photos are his bright, expressive eyes. For others, it may be a bold side profile, a cool trick, a long floppy tongue, or their bond with their humans. Take a moment to find that trait to focus on in each photo. Where details may lack in shadows, let personality make them stand out and shine.” - Allie Muro @talltailscreative

black dog on contrasting background


A dark dog needs some extra help!

“Lighting is the most important thing when it comes to photography but especially true when photographing black dogs. If you don’t have access to external lights, take your dog outdoors or in front of a well lit window indoors and face them into the light; this will help fill all those shadows on their face and fur and give a sparkle to their eyes.” Michelle Russ @michelle_russ_photo

"I struggle with photographing my dog, Ivy, all the time. Soft light is your BEST friend. Try to avoid direct midday sun because the black of your dog & the white light of the sun battle one another. Opt for shady areas, overcast days or golden hour lighting instead!" - @izzythegiantschnauzer (Dog is Ivy)

“Try to utilize sunshine, especially during golden hour! Natural light really makes a difference. As does portrait mode.” - Marni Hagel @montydoodledoo

Now that you have the technical parts down, remember to bring lots of treats & toys to make your photo session a fun bonding experience for you and your pup(s)! If you try any of these photography tips, be sure to tag us on social media so we can see your work!


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