Photographing a little Beau-ty / by Andrew Wilson

I can hear it now; cries of "awwww" and "how cute!" sweep the internet as these photos go out into the wild. Say hello to Beau, my sister and partner's little French Bulldog puppy, who I recently had the pleasure (and challenge) of photographing.

So although I've photographed pets and animals before I've never done so in a more formal way. For this reason when I arrived at my sister's place I decided to take a few impromptu photos of Beau before I set up my lighting equipment. I see this as a way to get my eye in - to "warm-up". In the meantime she burned off some excitable puppy-energy which helped me out when it came to having a calmer model.


A stuffed toy came proved useful for setting up my lighting. I used the toy as a prop to help dial in the settings as much as possible before bringing Beau into position. I didn't want to be working all that out with a fidgety puppy!


My (relatively) modest lighting equipment - a flash is wirelessly triggered from my camera, firing into my photo-umbrella which bounces back a softer quality of light.


The classic head-tilt dog pose.


This animated GIF shows how I processed the above photo in Adobe Lightroom. I typically start off by making tonal adjustments (exposure, contrast etc) in black & white, before going back to colour to make further tweaks.


All the attention was a bit tiring for the model!

While Beau was having a bit of a snooze, I decided to set up my lighting to capture a silhouette photo I had pre-visualised. I wanted to catch the outline of Beau's face and features with the surroundings being dark. It's not often I think of a photo before I have taken it so I was pretty pleased I was able to match what I had in mind. 

I fired the flash directly at Beau without the umbrella as I wanted a narrow spread of light. I used the dark side of a reflector to help get a dark background... 

...after capturing the above photo, I decided to swing the light a bit more towards me to illuminate more of Beau's face.

Intrigued by the lighting - an impromptu photo between changing set-ups. 

For my last few photos I wanted to try some back-lit silhouettes. The flash was placed behind Beau facing me, with the reflector (without a cover) acting as a diffused panel...

...this photo was over exposed for a silhouette...

...but this one worked out. The ears of a French Bulldog are quite prominent, so I thought a straight-on silhouette could be striking. What I didn't expect was the light to shine through her ears - a happy accident! 

After capturing the silhouette photo I decided to wrap up the shoot. I was happy with the variety of photos I got and I appreciated Beau being a well-behaved little puppy. It was challenging yet fun. I'm sure Beau and my camera will meet again some day! If you would like to keep up with the adventures of Beau then check out her Instagram @chasepride_beau_beau.

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