Interview with Dog Photographer Megan Williams

How did you get into Photography?

I have been a Photographer for over 6 years now and it all started from taking photos of my Working Cocker Spaniel Woody. I’d spend all my time following him around with a camera practicing his posing and action shots, it later turned into my career having now photographed 1000’s of dogs and other animals and I specialise in animal photography. I now also have a Cockapoo called Wilma, and living in the Cotswold countryside I spend most of my time outdoors with them getting muddy and enjoying the views.

Which camera is best?

You don’t need any fancy equipment, most of us walk around carrying cameras wherever we go with the phone in our pocket; using that you are able to capture some great memories to look back on. Plus your phone is light weight and easy to carry on every dog walk.

How do you get your dogs to pose?

Make it fun for the dogs, if they’re happy you’re happy. They won’t do anything for free so I’d always advise taking some tasty treats or their favourite toy with you so you can reward them after they’ve posed for a photo. Then you can ask them to sit and hold the reward above your head so they look straight into the camera wherever you are stood. My dogs soon learnt that they just have to sit where I ask them to and they can then enjoy a tasty snack.

For most shots I’d recommend getting down to the dogs eye level. This might mean sitting in the mud but the images will look so much better shooting from their level. To start off with your dogs may get excited and not sit still because you’re acting unusual and are crouching down with them, but eventually you can master a ‘Wait’ command and can walk a few steps away to take the perfect photo.

If they are a little wriggly and find having their photo taken too exciting that’s ok too, it’s good they’re so happy. You can bring a friend along to hold their leads from one side so they can’t run off. Or often dogs stay still for a second longer if they’re raised off the ground. Nothing too high so they don’t jump off and hurt themselves but pop them on a fallen tree trunk or sat on a bench, it can make a great prop for a photo and more chance of capturing the photo before the dogs run off to play. Or just embrace the action shots, some dogs prefer to be running around 100mph which can can be just as entertaining to look back on.

How can I take a good action shot of my dog?

The easiest way is to get your dog running in a straight line to you. Either put them in a ‘wait’ then call them or have a friend holding them so they can run to you from a distance away. Sometimes it can help if they’re running for a toy next to you. You’ll need a fast shutter speed and take as many shots as you can at once. This means that you should get a combination of different strides or the dog’s tongue hanging out and amongst all the shots should be the perfect image. It may take a bit of practice to perfect, but I’m sure your dog won’t mind running around having fun.

What if my dog has black fur, how do I photograph them?

Darker dogs especially can be tricky to photograph in bright sunlight without all the detail being lost from their coat. Always have the dog facing the direction of the sun, this means that no shadows fall across their face and you don’t have half in sunlight and half in a shadow. On really bright days if you’re still struggling then find a big tree and go underneath in it’s shadow. This means it’s still a bright day but there are no bright sections on the dog and you can see their eyes and faces perfectly.

What are your favourite Muck boots?

I’d say my favourite are the Women’s Arctic Sport II; there’s nothing worse than having chilly toes on a long walk but there’s no chance of that happening in these. They’re not clumpy or heavy, but hug your calves and are the comfiest boots I own! So when I’m out on photoshoots walking through muddy fields and streams it feels like I’m wearing my cosy slippers at home. I also have a pair of the Arctic Weekend boots which are similar but don’t come quite as far up your leg if that’s something you prefer. The other thing I love about the boots is if I’m in a rush to head out with the dogs it doesn’t matter if I’ve got the wrong kind of socks on as they don’t fall down and scrunch up which can be uncomfortable. Working outdoors all day long the right clothing is so important, the best footwear means no interruptions to the photoshoots.

Favourite dog friendly places to walk in the Cotswolds?

Some of my favourite places to visit with the dogs are Westonbirt Arboretum, Cirencester Park, Lower Slaughter, Castle Combe and many more. There are so many gorgeous spots that are so dog friendly. In the summer I’d suggest Cotswold Lavender farm where you can walk in fields of purple with your dogs; or at the start of the year Rococo Gardens in Painswick which has the most amazing blanket of Snowdrops, again very dog friendly. Of course every good walk needs to end with a pub lunch or tea and cake in a café, which you won’t struggle to find here.