Composition in Dog Photography

Composition in photography is how elements in the image are arranged. In this week’s Unleashed Embark challenge dog photographers across the world were charged with creating an image using one of the simplest rules of composition – centering. And while a centered composition sounds simple – perfect placement of dogs can be anything but simple. I always say “Ideally we’d like…” and we work together to get your dog in the general area where the light is pretty with plenty of room for “close enough”. But with this image I knew I needed a dog that could be very specific in exactly how every paw was placed.

Meet Me at the Cemetery.

I also had a crazy idea to photograph this image in the cemetery. And not just any cemetery, Atlanta’s iconic Oakland Cemetery. I had scoured photos online to find out where I would create this image. When I saw the Richards Mausoleum in a photo from a wedding, I knew I found my spot. The moment I saw that huge impressive copper door I could imagine this gargoyle but really a dog centered exactly on the door to complete the composition in dog photography challenge. I needed a big dog. I needed a big, impressive, and very well trained dog to create the image I saw in my head. A dog that we could place in exactly the right spot.

Meet Umbria – The Cane Corso

 I was so excited when Anna & Umbria applied for the EMBARK Challenges. Not only is Umbria a beautiful Cane Corso with a stunning brindle coat – she also has beautiful manners and is well trained by her Atlanta dog trainer mom Anna of Healthy Happy Pup. I knew she would be perfect for this image.

Next up – I had to break the news. Not only did I need them to meet at a cemetery – I also needed them to meet me there at dawn. Thank goodness Umbria agreed to forgo a little extra beauty sleep in exchange for some Wild Weenies and Anna agreed to drive her over.

Puppy dog eyes photos are best saved for the end of your dog's Atlanta' photo shoot.

Getting the Final Image

We tried several variations – closer to the door, farther from the door, standing, sitting, laying, up close, but in the end this was my favorite. I love Umbria’s slight smile and the way the light is just kissing the backs of her ears. Plus, she was exactly centered on the door which fit the composition in dog photography brief perfectly.

I was so excited to have this image awarded a Top 10 placement in the Composition 101.

Here was the brief: “Your subject should be centered in this image – and we mean perfectly centered! Using symmetry – both in the pose of the dog and the background elements – helps greatly to support a centered image, though it’s not essential for this challenge. As long as the subject is centered and the image is balanced.”.

And our final feedback from the judges: “Fantastic composition, super symmetry, the dog has a great expression and the juxtaposition of the hard urban landscape and the soft pearl necklace is a lovely detail!”

Created during the Embark dog photography challenge of 2022 this image of a Cane Corso in Atlanta, GA scored a Top 10 placement.
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