Every person, dog, or cat has a unique personality. Interestingly, when we look at a portrait, we not only get a feeling for the subject's personality, we can usually tell if the picture is presenting the real personality. Great pictures give us the feeling that the personality being displayed is accurate and truly represents the subject.
In the picture above Olive, on the left, is a happy go lucky dog that always wants to greet you with a tail wag and kiss. Jersey, on the right, is a much more head strong dog that knows what she wants and expects to get it. But I probably didn't need to explain that as the picture tells the tail.
Beyond getting the dogs to sit still long enough for a picture to be taken, there are a number of things that needed to come together to get this picture.
Most importantly, the dogs needed to be relaxed. Scared or stressed dogs will project those characteristics hiding their personality. These two had just spent a bunch of time playing and exploring together. They were enjoying each other's company and had burned off a lot of nervous energy.
Secondly, they were comfortable with the situation. Weird people, strange equipment, and unusual situations create confusion. Confusion creates tension. Tension creates bad pictures. This picture was a quick one, taken without huge planning or setup. It was a simple setup outdoors using natural light. It only took minimal coercion to get them to sit together. They're comfortable.
A picture like this develops naturally. If you're stressing, trying to get them positioned, sitting still, and looking perfect it won't happen. With pet photography the model calls the shots. They have to be given the time and space to relax and let their true personalities shine through.
Is this an award winning photo that will grace the cover of "Doggy Illustrated"? Probably not, but it is a picture that captures their true spirit and delivers a warm emotional response for anyone that views it.