How To Photograph A Puppy In The Studio

Recently I bought a new Vizsla puppy named Leo. I decided to take a few portraits of Leo in the studio and I put them on Facebook. They became my most liked images of all time. Yesterday I went back to the studio to create a video on how I did it. 


Leo is currently 9 weeks old and he is usually pretty wild. To capture these shots I figured out a few lessons right off the bat. 

1. Put the puppy up high so that he can't wander off

2. Put the puppy on something that you can easily turn so that you don't have to continue to move the puppy

3. Use a macro lens so that you can focus on tight shots

4. Use strobe light to freeze the puppies motion

In this video I created 3 different scenarios. First I simply used a Profoto B1 and dish with a grid to light him up. Keep in mind that a similarly sized softbox with a grid would create a similar look. The key is to get as close as possible to create super soft light that still accentuate all of the puppies fur and wrinkles. 


For the second shot I used a Alienbee ringflash. Once again I got the light as close as possible to Leo to create some interesting flat light with significant falloff.


For the final series we used a piece of Plexiglas and a bit of honey to get Leo interested in licking. I used the same grided dish to get some funny looking shots. 

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Josh Rottman's picture

Your poochie is so much more patient than mine!

Scott S's picture

step 1: get an adorable puppy.

Ralph Hightower's picture

Cute puppy! I saw the tongue photo on Facebook yesterday and wondered how it was done. Now, I know. Great tips!

aaronbratkovics's picture

Impressive. Now lets see a cat. NOT a kitten but a cat. NOT a fat one either. That would be cheating. The fat ones never do a thing. Nice post! lol.

Ngaere Woodford's picture

I took these of my two, sorry not the originals but you get the idea. Such a small space of time before they lose it and TBH I lost it too as the just don't want to sit still. But hey got there in the end. Wouldn't even attempted the kitten (now cat) now!

Lor Wor's picture

These are Viszlas #4 & 5 for us. Great dogs

Lee Morris's picture

How much do you exercise them? Everyone has us scared that Leo is going to be ultra hyper

Lor Wor's picture

Not one of mine has been hyper. They do love being around people and can cause mayhem when left alone. We walk'em once a day as much as possible - they really thik its their job in life. I think the 'hyper' thing is way over stated.

Casey Wrightsman's picture

Just did some photos of our 2 Pomeranians a few weeks ago. Really like the window idea tho!

pelle piano's picture

Good tip, putting the dog on a high thing. Handheld can also give a nice portrait ( for small dogs =) )

Jason Ranalli's picture

The plexiglass idea is a great one!

Eric Bloemers's picture

I love taking shots of my dog in the studio! Here is one of her :) Used an ultra wide angle to really exaggerate her features. used only one light with a 48" softlighter II.

Jason Vinson's picture

I keep wanting to do some studio stuff with my dogs but have only done some natural light stuff.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

So, you have a tutorial. Where is a backstage? :)

Prefers Film's picture

"Felix, I need you to show me pensive"

Nasri Saade's picture

@leemorris You should also include, take them for a walk or leave them free some time so they get a little bit tired and get used to being in the studio, and always have threats for them!

Michael Kormos's picture

Lee, these are FANTASTIC! We've contemplated getting a Vizsla before. Incredible animal. We're just too lazy to keep up with its athletic lifestyle.

That Profoto beauty dish + grid is my favorite modifier. Nothing gives you that tight controlled look.

Definitely not a budget-friendly modifier at $3k when you add in the strobe, but hey, the photos are worth it.

Juan Muino's picture

Michael,, you will love having a Vizsla... only problem is that you'll never want to own another breed. They are VERY active, but if you stimulate them mentally they get just as exhausted. We currently have four. go for it!

Nick Collins's picture

here's our Vizsla :D

João Almeida's picture

Just a simple 24" softbox in a yongnuo yn-560 III
Sony a6000 with Yongnuo 50mm /1.8 (shot at 6.3)

Juan Muino's picture

Hi Lee.

welcome to the wonderful world of Vizsla ownership (although they really own you)...your life will never be the same again. And trust me on this, if you wife suggest getting another one, be careful. We now have four! Ours are Wire-haired Vizslas and honestly couldn't be without them. Meet Mabel!


Train them young! :-) I've been shooting my Doberman from the day I got her (1.5yrs) She now sits and poses for me anytime! These were shot in my makeshift studio in my living room - first one is 2-10x48 grid strip lights on either side and the other was a 24" softbox above

Harrison Barden's picture

I have very similar photos of my cat like the first few. I don't believe I could get my cat to lick plexiglass.

Deleted Account's picture

Took some of my sisters horse the other day, this is sooc.

Vuk Bortnik's picture

My vizsla at 6 months

Barry Glassman's picture

Thanks for the advice. I as able to get some special shots with muted sunlight.