Equipment Questions and More

This week we are covering a variety of questions. We are in need of more questions to answer! Please contact us at our email or on Facebook with yours!

I’m curious what lens do you recommend and best all around settings for camera? Also any tips for photos of smaller dogs on the dang hard!  

This depends heavily on the brand of camera you use, and what type of shot you are trying to get. A win shot or a candid? Inside or out? The number one thing I can tell you is that digital cameras chose light over focus. This is not the choice a dog person wants. To avoid this, especially indoors, a lens with an f-stop of 2.8 is your best bet.
For small dogs always try to be on their level. If they are on a table stand up, if they are on the ground, get down. It isn't always easy for those of us with dog show knees but that is what it takes!

What is the largest barrier in getting started as a photographer?

The dog knowledge needed. Not the cost, but the hard knowledge of each breed you need to have to take a good photo of it.  Equipment is expensive, shows are hard to "get," but the knowledge is the single largest barrier because most don't see it until they try to do it.

What is the typical equipment used by photographers and does it vary between win and candid/action shots?

This is an interesting question because 15 years ago I could have told you what every photographer used, and now I have no idea! 😮 Most, if not all, are digital now, but I truly miss the film! 😥 Times change, and everyone wants their prints yesterday. Digital allows for that. Canon or Nikon are the most commonly used as is true for all photography I think. Lenses and style of camera vary from person to person. Photographers are not really a "social" group as we are always working at the same time, and have little time to sit and chat! 😁

What are some of the top changes good and bad you have seen in dog show photography since you began?

Good and bad? Well that is probably just a  matter of opinion. First, dog show win photos started as a "record shot" to record and help with point counts. Today? They are expected to be mini portraits.  This is tough to do in a reasonable amount of time to respect the judges time frame. This is neither good or bad, just a difference that most exhibitors do not realize, or understand.

On the bad side? 
  • Most exhibitors do not care any more about getting a win shot. The number of photos we take at any given show have fallen off spectacularly.  Most of you only need a "selfie" of the ribbons, you and your dogs. Funny how they are dog shows, and yet half the time on Facebook you barely see the dog in the selfie. "Look what I did today!" I think the theory still is, the dog won, but maybe not. 😏 
  • Those that do come get win photos?  I would say 1/3 of them are judgeless. Exhibitors either don't have time, don't want to wait for the judge, or flat do not care if the judge is even in the photo.
  • Another thing I have noticed is that the common availability of the equipment and it's lowered price point from the film cameras has meant everyone thinks they are a photographer, or that it is an "easy" thing to do. Unless and until they try to work a show, they have no idea of the 'rest of the picture' the nuances of club, judges and exhibitor. The years spent cultivating and learning the quirks of judges, who will finish early and be there ready and waiting for you, who will be late and need you to wait till lunch. Of the way to actually READ a judging schedule and understand it, watch it, and make it work for our needs.  I have also noticed as more people become "photographers", judges that used to have no issues with time or letting you in, seem to be running "closer to time" on that first break. Once they see it is me, they seem to be fine the rest of the day. I have had a couple judges tell me, it's not like it used to be, they are less and less likely to have time, as these "new guys" do not respect them or their time. So, they just don't make the time for it. Its sad really shows should be about the dogs and the judges that judge them should be respected but, that seems old fashioned today I guess.
  • The equipment is "disposable" now. When we switched to digital I retired the film camera I had apprenticed on after over 30 yrs, yes I had some newer cameras and pieces of equipment, but I also had that original one. Digitals?  With the locations of dog shows and the number of images we take I am lucky to get 2 or maybe 3 years out of them. They are meant to be expendable not repairable. Repairs, even cleaning, cost more than purchasing an entire new rig. This is very frustrating because you are never done buying, looking, shopping for at least one piece of equipment.

The good? well, with everything on digital now it is ready faster, up quicker, and out the door sooner.  I think the largest good, has been that with digital comes the ability to order online, pick your own shot, and for the photographer to be paid in advance eliminating receivables we used to carry, sometimes for years.

What is the future of dog show photography?

I am not sure where dog show photography is headed. I suspect that smaller shows and specialties will start putting up a "selfie booth" and not even hire or contract a photographer. As I said earlier, many of my images are judgeless. Our business has dropped significantly in the last 10 years. You don't take the number of photos you used to per day, even at large shows or National Specialties. Dog show photography began as a way to prove your win, at a time when cameras were not common, now they are on our phones and everyone can do it; so I really have no idea where we are headed.

Have questions? Ask them! Follow us on Facebook for more information. Interested in having us photograph your show? Contact us at either location!  We have updated our website! See our calendar to know where we will be next!


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