When I talk about distractions I am not talking about squirrels. Although I could talk about that problem, that is a topic for another time. What I am talking about are things that are distracting in your portraits. Most photographers will do a clothing consultation when they photograph humans. They talk about clothing that will look good in the portrait and they will talk about what types of clothing and colors of clothing to avoid. These clothes should be avoided usually because they will be unflattering or distracting.
The same thought process needs to go into preparing for a photo session with a dog. Think about a dog collar. Unless you are on location and need to control the dog, you need to think about whether the dog collar is adding to the story you are telling with your photograph, or if it is a distraction. If there is no need for the collar and it doesn’t contribute to the story, why have the dog wear a collar? At the very least, if the dog needs the collar, turn the collar around so the tags are not seen, or remove the tags altogether. It is rare that the tags are part of the story.
The same goes with leashes. Is it part of the story you are trying to tell? If so, then leave it in. Do you only need it to control the dog on location? Then remove it in post production.
Are you having the dog wear clothing or jewelry? Add it if it helps to tell the story. If there is no reason to have it in the photograph, then don’t use it.
What about props? Do they give more meaning to the portrait? If yes, then use them. If not, then don’t.
What about backgrounds? Do they catch your attention more than the subject, then reconsider the background. You want people saying “what a beautiful dog” and not “what a beautiful beach”!
You get the idea. The subject of your portrait is/are the dog(s) and maybe their humans. Anything else in the portrait should add to the portrait and enhance the story you are telling. Anything else might be a distraction. Take a second and third look when you are composing your portraits and make sure all of the elements add to the story you are telling.
Have some thoughts on the subject of distractions? Comment below.