Photographing shelter dogs - using Sense of Scale

When photographing rescue or shelter dogs I always try to capture a few different types of shots so that people looking on pet finder websites have a good idea of the dog’s personality as well as its size, before heading over to the shelter for a visit. In addition to head shots, a close up of their face, I always incorporate ”sense of scale”, images that give people a good idea of the size of a dog.

For small dogs I may place them on a table or chair so people can see how tiny they are! For large dogs if they are in the shelter environment, I sometimes have them lying on the couch that is available at the shelter where I photograph dogs. Having the dogs stand beside a person is the easiest way to show a dog’s size.

In the images below I have placed the dogs on a couch and picnic table to showcase their size.

If I am called to take pictures of the dogs that are in foster care, then we can go to a prettier location and I will use rocks, trees, walls and their foster mom or dad to provide this sense of scale.

This week I photographed Apollo. He’s a rescue dog from China where he was slated for the meat market. Thanks to the wonderful work of Beagle Freedom Project, he was flown from China to Toronto where he is now with a lovely foster family awaiting his forever home.

When I was called to take pictures of him I suggested a pretty little park in Toronto which I often use for my dog photography clients. I was lucky in this situation to have a far nicer location than the usual drab shelter environment.

Here are some examples of Apollo in images that show his size. The first image is the easiest way to show sense of scale - the dog with a human. In the second image, Apollo is standing between two walls used to provide the sense of scale.


Below Apollo stands beside a tree to provide a sense of scale, and April, a sweet black Labrador retriever sits beside her favourite human, also showing her size.

This blog is part of the 52 week pet photography project in which I am participating. For more ideas on “sense of scale” in dog photography, take a look at the work of Angela Schneider. Angela Schneider of Noses & Toes Pet Photography in Spokane, WA, and North Idaho, unabashedly celebrates the bond you've made with your dog.

If I can help you celebrate your dog, be it big or small, give me a call or contact me by e-mail. We can chat about your furry friend and discuss his or her photo opportunities in the Greater Toronto or Southeast Florida areas!