I’ll Chase Her Down Until She Loves Me

It’s kind of ridiculous but, even after all this time, photographing the Shivster takes a lot of creative-thinking. She is not a dog who loves to look at the camera. Shiva seems to know the exact moment my finger presses on the shutter as she almost always turns away at the last second. It is incredibly frustrating when the vast majority of my pictures look like this:

Or this:

Even when I mange to get a head-on shot, she never looks particularly happy about it. It makes me feel like a member of the paparazzi.

This is not the face of a happy Shiva. I dislike how she always looks so solemn. Photos of her remind me of early portraits of Victorian families, back when photography was  serious business and people worried the camera may steal their souls.  

If I don’t look directly at it, maybe it won’t eat my brain.

Oh well. I guess photographing Shiva is just another skill I need to hone. If I have to take a million pictures of the back of her head, at least it is a very pretty back of the head.

55 thoughts on “I’ll Chase Her Down Until She Loves Me

  1. I love back of the head shots!

    Misty was a head turner too. Oreo grew up with a camera pointed in his face, so he seems to love it.

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    • Sometimes she is good, especially if I have treats. But she always looks so dang serious! When we got professional photos taken, the photographer was able to get her to open her mouth a little and smile. I was stunned!

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    • My camera is all right – it’s not fancy but it does the job. The only one I have to blame is myself, really. I guess we both just need more practice but I figure, as long as there is a dog in the photo somewhere, it’s already a great shot!

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  2. Ha! Ha! I agree with Sara – I think it’s when they grow up with the shutter constantly clicking that they just become so blase to it…all our pets have had to deal with my maniacal obsession with the camera and they don’t take any notice of me anymore…in fact, I almost get the feeling that they “pose”! Muesli’s already picked up the skill – I’ve got a couple of amazing photos of her waiting to post which just HAVE to be posed – she is such a little poser! –

    But even Honey will realise that I’m ‘doing a photoshoot’ – which usually involves lots of treats – and she’ll actually act like it’s a job she’s got to get done. She even knows the poses that I like (I like her to raise her head high, to get that “majestic Dane” look) and will do them – almost like, “Oh alright, let’s just get this over with!” 🙂

    I do find that teaching a very reliable Stay & Wait are indispensable to getting good photos – especially a Stand Stay or instant Stand Wait (getting the dog to freeze instantly on command) – Honey will actually freeze and let me get the shot and after my release word, continue as if nothing happened! Hee! Hee!

    The one thing I haven’t managed to do – which really winds me up – is when you grab the VIDEO camera and they stop doing whatever they were doing! Aaaarrrgghh! I’ve lost so many good “moments” that way – for some reason, she seems a lot more aware of the video camera and will become “self-conscious” and stop doing what she as doing. So the only way to capture things is to have the video rolling all the time – long enough that she forgets about it – and be lucky to *just* catch it…but of course, you can’t have a video recording all day and it’s always when you give up and switch it off that she goes back to doing the thing you wanted to capture!! (*roll eyes*)!

    Hsin-Yi

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    • Shiva has an excellent sit-stay, stand-stay, and down-stay, but that doesn’t mean she will keep her head in one place. Ugh.

      I love that you have turned “photo time” into a game wherein Honey has a job to do. What a great idea! Maybe I just need to amp up my energy like I would if I was training a trick. That way I will keep her interest and perhaps catch some cool candid moments. Thanks for the tips!

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      • Oh really? What about when you say “Wait”? I find with Honey that if I say “Wait” – she will keep her attention on me because she knows that’s the command that means “freeze – wait – something is coming” – and so she is anticipating the next command. So if I say “Wait” to her (say, she is walking towards me and I stop her in her tracks) – she will *pause* and not move her head or anything – until I give the next command or the release word. I guess it’s sort of like teaching her that “Wait” means “freeze – don’t move until I say so and keep your eyes on me” – you should be able to train that using clicker (I didn’t but I think I did it inadvertently because I take SO many photos…and actually, I think Honey treats the CLICK of the shutter like the clicker – she will pause and hold a pose until she hears the shutter click and then she’ll relax)

        I agree also with some of the comments below – have a lot of treats and always reward any eye contact with the camera (seen throguh the lends) with a treat – and use the CLICK of the shutter like a clicker. Honey knows that if she is Sitting, she won’t be allowed to get up again and continue until she turns & looks at the camera and hear the CLICK of the shutter – to me, that’s no different when when you’re training “Watch me” with your dog using the clicker.

        It also helps – as someone said – to get down low at your dog’s level – pictures always look better that way. I do this a lot when I want to get action shots, rather than posed “portrait” ones.

        Oh – another thing I find is that your dog (esp one that’s bonded to you like Shiva) will always keep looking back at you every so often – so it’s a case of keeping the camera trained on her as she is walking and waiting for that one moment she glances back at you to press the shutter – you’ll usually get a more natural expression then.

        Good luck! Most of all it’s just practice! You just need to be taking a LOT more pictures!! 🙂 (If you’re born Asian, it would probably come naturally – ha! ha! ha! I don’t know any Asian person who doens’t have a camera surgically grafted to their hands! 😉 )

        Hsin-Yi

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  3. Oh – I forgot to say – that “serious expression” thing – hah! If you owned a jowly, mastiffy dog, that would just be a fact of life! Even when Honey is deliriously happy, she always looks very serioous, even sad, because of her heavy jowls and wrinkled forhead and generally droopy face! 🙂

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  4. Oh my gosh! Delilah is the exact same way, as soon as I point the camera she turns away, blinks, yawns etc.

    Sampson on the other hand seems resigned to his fate, probably because we had a camera in his face the day he was born! LOL

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  5. It’s a beautiful picture of the back of the head of Shiva! I always take pictures of Mika and Eva. Mika is a camera shy boy and I always have a feeling that he feels awkward whenever the camera is facing him. Eva is a natural, she knows it too well that she even poses for me and gives me enough time to make that click. : )

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    • Eva is definitely a natural, I agree. She seems to enjoy all of the attention. She could be a movie star.

      I think Shiva just gets bored really fast with all the standing around. “Less picture taking, more running!” What she doesn’t understand is that if she just posed properly in the first place, I’d put the camera away so much sooner!

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    • Ugh, don’t even get me started on the blur! My camera has a cool function that eliminates that, however, it works so slowly that by the time the photo is taken, my dog is at the end of the field!

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    • Hahaha! I was just going to say that the photo you are using for your gravatar looks awesome but now that I look, I do detect a hint of pensiveness in her gaze. She still looks stunning, regardless. It makes your collars look more regal.

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  6. When I first came to live with mom and dad, I HATED the flashy beast. But then I learned that when I posed pretty for mom, she gave me super delicious treats. So now I’m a big poser. But Brudder Ranger, on the other paw, he’s a lot like Shiva. He just hates to have his picture taken, no matter how many treatsies mom gives him.

    Wiggles & Wags,
    mayzie

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    • Treats definitely work, that’s for sure. I pull them out when all else fails. But sometimes they work a little too well and all she does for the next hour is stare at my hand!

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  7. Believe it or not my dogs are not the best at it either while outside. They much rather be doing what they want (hunting/exploring) than pose for me. So I make sure to reward them handsomly… but as you’ve seen Luna will often turn her face or ignore my requests. I agree that working on a sit/wait and stand/wait, or a “pause” will help, I use that a lot for both of them and it comes in handy. She will force you to continue to get creative though, I find that’s part of the fun of it all.

    I have the same video camera problem, soon as I pull it out they stop playing or whatever it was I was going to record. Wyatt especially.

    Practice practice and take lots of pics… isn’t that what digital is for anyway?
    Anna
    http://www.akginspiration.com

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    • I’m totally the opposite I MUCH prefer to shoot the kids outside doing what they’d like. I was for a photo of Rio inside on carpeting/hardwood/tile for a potential advertisement and I actually had to shoot one because I didn’t have a single photo from inside but I have hundreds of beautiful shots of him outside LOL!

      I let THEM do what they want and I roll on the ground getting photos is how it works most often LOL!

      I agree the more photos you take the the more creative you get, the better photographer you become.

      (keep an eye out on my blog for next week Kristine, I’m planning on a quick photo tips post since I get emails about photos pretty regularly)

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      • Thanks, I was hoping you would write about that! I’ve never considered myself a creative person but I think it is one more way Shiva is teaching me to explore all of my sides.

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    • It’s true. Thank goodness for digital, otherwise all my photos would just be grey blurs!

      All of your photos are excellent. Both Luna and Wyatt, even when intense, look like thet are having a good time. Maybe I need to come up with a verbal cue for posing for the camera. That way it will be a “trick” and Shiva will see it as a fun job to perform. Thanks for the idea!

      I still haven’t got a great video of Shiva running full tilt. It drives me insane. The video camera thing is definitely something I need to be much sneakier about!

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  8. Haha. I hear you – a lot of pictures of Moses get taken for one to turn out non-blurry with him looking at the camera. But as bad as dogs are, cats are worse!

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    • That is so true. I hardly have any photos of the cat because I have just about given up. He has a rare talent for not only turning his head but turning his whole body so I all I capture is his bare butt!

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    • LOL. Good to know my cat isn’t the only one who is an expert at camera-dodging! They do bring it to a whole new level.

      100 for 1? Then I am ahead at only 10 for 1, woo hoo!

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  9. Mine won’t sit still long enough to get a good picture and when she sleeps she curls up in a tiny ball not worth taking a photo of (although my husband loves to take pictures of the two of us taking naps together… usually not the most flattering for me).

    Shiva does indeed have a beautiful back of the head!

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    • My husband loves to do that too! Isn’t it incredibly irritating? I just love looking through the photos on the camera and finding twenty of myself with drool coming out of my mouth. Good times all around.

      Thanks! She thinks so too, apparently.

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    • Perhaps it just depends on the dog? Maybe I should be grateful Shiva looks at the camera even just occasionally. Poor Bella… I hope she adjusts eventually, that beautiful face deserves to shine!

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  10. Treats and toys work wonders for getting Riley to look at the camera! I hold a treat above the camera or a toy above the camera, and voila–a perfect picture! I find that if I just call Riley’s name, she only looks at me for a few seconds until she realizes that I’m not giving her any commands (or anything else for that matter), but toys and treats always grab her attention.

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    • Heh. Treats are definitely a good idea. Perhaps I need to use them more often instead of just relying on the name.

      Good to know I am not the only one struggling!

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  11. Honey doesn’t like having her picture taken either. That’s why my pictures of her look so terrible; it has nothing to do with my lack of photography skills. 🙂

    I think having my face covered with the camera is part of what frightens her.

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    • That’s what I’ve wondered too. They must be slightly weirded out by the black box in front of our faces.

      Your photos are lovely just by nature of including Honey. You have nothing to worry about!

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  12. As the proud mom of the Least Photogenic AKC Champion in the Country and Maybe the World, I can definitely relate to dogs that are difficult to photograph 🙂

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    • I’m sure the problem isn’t lack of photogenic-ness. After all, an AKC Champion is nothing short of gorgeous. It’s not the camera that doesn’t like the dog, more the dog that is just too good for the camera! 😉

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  13. we trained Chick, and we train all of our fosters, with lots of positive association with the camera. i never pull it out to photograph the dogs without treats in hand, unless i am trying to capture them “in action.” even our shyest dogs learn within a couple of weeks that if they just stare at the lens, they will be fed. good luck!

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    • That’s not idea. Shiva isn’t shy or scared of the camera, I don’t think. She just seems to think the whole thing is very dull. Perhaps if I spend some serious time building that positive and fun association, I’ll be rewarded with photos of a happy dog!

      Thanks!

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  14. i love spontaneous pictures, even when the dog is looking away. in fact, i think i much prefer them to straight on beautiful head shots or portraitures. i get a lot more of the dog’s character and personality that way!

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  15. Well Beryl is either tearing around or standing still looking boring so I often end up with lots of photos of grass or blurry ones or ones with her nose looking real long, which is akin to making someone’s bum look big, lol. Frankie is similar although he’s not as quick. I find having my camera on ‘burst’ is a big help and sometimes I fluke a photo or two that I’m pleased with. And one day I’ll get a DSLR and I won’t be able to blame my bad photos on the camera:)

    Shiva looks awesome from any angle but I can see how you’d like to get more photos of her all bright eyed and smiling:)

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    • Yes, that’s true. My camera is decent enough but it is no fancy DSLR. Does that mean I can just blame my lack of high-end technology? Sounds like a plan!

      I think your photos are always incredible, though, so it speaks a lot to the skill of the photographer. You always manage to capture your dogs’ personalities. I think that’s what bothers me. The true essence of Shiva never seems to come across in my photos.
      Perhaps I should try to use Burst a lot more myself!

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  16. Our second Greyhound, Hawk, had all those photos where he looked so regal and GQ, but the truth is he was a goofball and a half. He hated the camera flash and wouldn’t look at it in case it was going to steal his soul. If you can take pictures in natural light, that helps, and also, try backing away some and zooming in with the camera lens. The camera staring right at them is very intimidating for some dogs.

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    • Thanks for the great tips!

      I think that is what bothers me the most, that I can never bring out Shiva’s utter silliness, just her intenseness. Whereas your photos of Bunny and Blueberry always seem to capture that gleam in their eyes that gives away their natures. I will have to try to be more sneaky in the future.

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