What do I need to carry in my pet photographer’s camera bag?

What do I need to carry in my pet photographer’s camera bag?

Photographing your dog outdoors is a wonderful way to spend time together and create memories to last a lifetime. Make sure you have what you need in your bag to make your photoshoot a success!

These tips below may come in handy if you want to photograph your dog and are wondering what to pack for the adventure.

As a professional dog and animal photographer, over the years I’ve discovered and added various tools of the trade to my camera bag. Some work a treat, others not so much. It’s all a case of try it and see. If it works, it can make a big difference to the outcome of the photos and the whole experience.

Since I work from our destination farm location in Wootton NSW on the Barrington Coast, I have the luxury of being able get to items quickly when I need them as I don’t need to leave the property.

Below is a list of tools I use on a regular basis; however, these are my top 15 … and some of them you may never have guessed!

TOP 15 TOOLS to include in your PET PHOTOGRAPHER’S CAMERA BAG:

  1. Your Camera! I use a Canon R5 mirrorless, and I also have my Canon 5D MKIV as a backup camera, just in case.
  2. 70-200mm 2.8 lens. This is the lens I use the most. It helps create separation between your subject and the background allowing a creamy almost painterly finish to the scene behind. Also, great when photographing shy dogs as you can be quite covert and keep distance.
  3. 24-70mm 2.8 lens. The lens I use when I get up close and personal with the dog… and enables me to dispense treats to them as I shoot!
  4. Hoodman Loupe. I love this tool as I’ve had vision issues in the past and surgery to rectify. The loupe is like a magnifying glass you press to the LCD screen of your camera so you can review your images easily, even in bright sunlight. Traditionally used by videographers, it’s one tool that changed my workflow for the better.
  5. Spider Holster belt with treat bag attached containing an abundance of treats. Treats are king when it comes to working with dogs for both rewarding them and gaining their undivided attention. Make sure you have a good pouch to keep them in… and preferably one that will keep curious snouts out when you’re focusing on other things. The Spider Holster belt saved me after suffering from a frozen shoulder back in 2016.
  6. Noisemakers. Another way to get great expression, head tilts and attention generally from the dog you’re photographing. It’s good to have a variety of noisemakers, as dogs do tire from one sound very quickly. Do not overuse these tools… keep them for when you really need to pop out an expression and make sure you are fully ready with your settings before you do.
  7. Spare batteries and cards. An absolute essential for session success. I’ve rarely had a situation where either run out, but these are ALWAYS in my bag ready to go.
  8. Water. This important for the dog, the dog’s pawrents and myself.  I have a preference for the “crunchy” water bottles as they double up as an additional noisemaker. I also always carry a portable collapsible dog water bowl which I hook to my camera backpack with a carabiner.
  9. Wipes. Essential for keeping hands clean from slobber, treats and mess in general.
  10. Insect repellent – especially for mozzies in the warmer months, and those big march flies we sometimes get. You can also get insect repellent to spray on clothing now.
  11. Various leashes. I have a black and a white show lead which I use for smaller dogs in shots where the collar may be a distraction. These just slip over the head. they are relatively easy to edit out of photos. My long leads are great for running shots while also keeping the dog safe.
  12. A variety of toys and attention-getters, including a small ball launcher. I use this above my head when I have a particularly ball-focused dog and I’m looking to get expression. Best not to overuse as I usually don’t actually launch the ball. I ask pawrents to bring their dog’s favourite toys along if they’d like to. I also have a few in my kit which double up as different noisemakers.
  13. Lens cleaning cloth. An essential tool for any dog photographer to keep lenses clean from wet nose and tongue marks.
  14. Treat bag with an abundance of treats. Treats are king when it comes to working with dogs for both rewarding them and gaining their undivided attention. Make sure you have a good pouch to keep them in… and preferably one that will keep curious snouts out when you’re focusing on other things.
  15. Bubble Wrap! This is one you are probably surprised to see on the list. We get a lot of rain up here in Wootton, and I lay about on the ground a lot when photographing. I get loads of bubble wrap with my artwork deliveries so I’m glad I’ve found a way to re-use it! It keeps me dry when lying in dirt or on the grass and can be wiped clean after use. It also provides a level of comfort between myself and the ground.

For photos of the mentioned tools, click here.

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